National Forest campgrounds in North Carolina.
North Carolina national forests protect ancient hardwoods, wild rivers, venus flytraps, and coastal wetlands.
Hot spots for outdoor adventure, North Carolina’s four national forests sprawl across mountains, piedmont, and the eastern coast. Nantahala and Pisgah national forests in the western mountains offer easy access to wild whitewater and challenging mountain bike trails. Urban explorers can combine a trip to Charlotte or Raleigh with an overnight stay beside Badin Lake inRead more...
Hot spots for outdoor adventure, North Carolina’s four national forests sprawl across mountains, piedmont, and the eastern coast. Nantahala and Pisgah national forests in the western mountains offer easy access to wild whitewater and challenging mountain bike trails. Urban explorers can combine a trip to Charlotte or Raleigh with an overnight stay beside Badin Lake in Uwharrie while take-it-easy travelers can immerse in coastal wetlands on a paddle through Croatan. Tent and RV sites are found in all four national forests, while regulations for dispersed camping vary. A handful of campgrounds are open year-round in each forest.
Where to Go
Nantahala National Forest
With gorges, mountains, and untamed rivers, Nantahala is an easy choice for thrill-seekers. Camp in one of its 14 campgrounds for an early start on the Appalachian Trail (AT), whether you're kayaking, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, ziplining, or hiking. Standing Indian Campground borders the Nantahala River while Jackrabbit Mountain and Cheoah Point bump against family-friendly lakes. Tsali Campground funnels campers onto 39 miles of hiking and biking trails, while the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) runs rafting trips and offers various camping options. Bryson City and Cherokee are the nearest towns.
Pisgah National Forest
Soak up the cultural and culinary charms of Asheville—not to mention its craft beers—then jump into the 500,000-acre Pisgah National Forest for powerful waterfalls, a 60-foot-long natural waterslide, a hike on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, or world-class mountain biking—trout fishing is good too. Campers can find 11 campgrounds around Pisgah, which flanks the Blue Ridge Parkway and rolls north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Tennessee border.
Uwharrie National Forest
The Uwharrie Mountains were the site of a gold strike in 1799, but today, the 80-square-mile national forest attracts roadtrippers ready to hike, mountain bike, horseback ride, and tackle the ATV trails—or try their hand at gold panning. Others visit from nearby Charlotte to go fishing or swimming in Badin Lake, which has four developed campgrounds. Arrowhead Campground and West Morris Mountain Campground are both near Troy and open year-round.
Croatan National Forest
The scenery exudes a slow-it-down vibe at Croatan, a coastal woodland teeming with wildlife across cypress swamps, pine savannah, shrubby bogs, and saltwater estuaries. Tidal rivers and the Bogue Sound surround the nearly 160,000-acre forest, which is a short drive from New Bern and Jacksonville, North Carolina. Paddlers can scan for bald eagles, wild turkeys, osprey, and alligators while exploring the Saltwater Adventure Trail or part of the Mountains-to-Sea hiking trail. Camp at Oyster Point Campground or the two recreation areas.