Boondocking in North Carolina

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 09:38 am. Originally published on April 23rd, 2021

If you love camping, there is no need to wait until you can afford a luxurious campground. There are many free camping in North Carolina options. There are outstanding options in the Appalachian Mountains near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point in the Piedmont area offer fantastic opportunities for those who love history and are looking for an urban camping experience. The inner coastal range provides some of the best barbecue in the world, and it is a fascinating place filled with lots of history. Water lovers will adore camping in the coastal area and the outer banks. Regardless of where you look, there are many boondocking locations in North Carolina. 

A sweeping mountain range under a cloudy sky with sunlight peeking through and lush fall trees in the foreground.

Boondocking Sites in North Carolina

Catfish Lake Boat Ramp

You can find free camping in North Carolina at the Catfish Lake Boat Ramp in the Croatan National Forest near Maysville. This is an excellent place to camp if you love to fish because bullheads, perch, and crappie are often biting. The nearby pocosin and the pine forest make this a great place to watch for wildlife, like deer and bears. 

Basin Creek Camping Area

Basin Creek Camping Area is at Thurmond Chatham Game Land in Wilkes County, North Carolina. There are no amenities or cell service at this campground that can easily accommodate rigs up to 35 feet long. Blue Ridge Parkway is adjacent to this campground, and Stone Mountain State Park is about nine miles away. 

Ammons Branch Campground

Enjoy the beautiful scenery of Nantahala National Forest while camping at Ammons Branch Campground. Each site comes with a picnic table and lantern hangers. A pit toilet is available at these sites off Bull Pen Road near Highlands. This is a beautiful area to go hiking with many scenic overviews located nearby. 

Long Point Boat Launch Camping

It is easy to get to the Long Point Boat Launch, and you can find free camping in North Carolina for units up to 39 feet long at this site in the Croatan National Forest near Maysville. The shallow water at this camp makes it a great place to launch a kayak. There is a vault toilet and fire rings available. 

Bristol Fields Horse Camp

Located very near Fires Creek in the Fires Creek Backcountry Area of Nantahala National Forest, there are nine campsites at Bristol Fields Horse Camp. These campsites are perfect for equestrians as horse camping is allowed, but they are also great for hikers. There is a pit toilet. Nearby, the Rim Trail offers stunning views of the creek while the Leatherwood Trail offers spectacular views of the meadow as it loops around the Leatherwood Picnic Area. This secluded campground is near Hayesville. 

Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River

The Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River campground area near Edgemont is a great place to go boondocking in North Carolina if you want to go climbing at the Little Lost Cove Cliffs. There are four nearby mountain biking trails. Anglers often catch their limit, and hikers enjoy exploring the nearby day hiking and backpacking trails. 

Badin Horse Camp

Camp next to the fantastic hiking and horseback riding trails in Uwharrie National Forest near Troy by staying at Badin Horse Camp. There are no toilets or trash services, so be sure to come prepared to this boondocking in North Carolina site off Mullinix Road. There is also no nearby source of water. If you are looking to unplug and relax in the beautiful scenery, this is an outstanding option. 

Where to Boondock in North Carolina

While you can find great choices for boondocking in North Carolina, most of them are in the state’s four national forests. The largest national forest in the Tar Heel state is Nantahala, near Cherokee and Bryson City, where you find gorgeous deep canyons and steep mountains to explore. Pisgah National Forest near Asheville is a mountain bikers’ delight. Some of the longest hiking trails in the state run through this forest. Uwharrie National Forest is home to Badin Lake, which brings in many boaters and kayakers. There are also over 205 miles of hiking trails in this forest near Charlotte. Finally, Croatan National Forest near New Bern, Beaufort, and Morehead City offers campers a chance to see how the state’s coast looked before huge developments took over. 

Free Camping in North Carolina

When preparing for your boondocking trip, keeping several different factors in mind can make the trip even better. You need to stay weather-aware as storms can brew quickly, especially in coastal areas. Consider a solar-powered or hand-cranked weather radio so that you can hear the latest weather news. Since many boondocking in North Carolina locations are in remote areas, learn to read the clouds, and act accordingly. 

Wild animals can pose dangers when boondocking in North Carolina. Consider how you will store your food so that bears and other animals cannot get to it. Additionally, consider equipping your RV with deer whistles to help stop one from running out in front of you unexpectedly. 

There are terrific places to go camping for free in North Carolina, from the mountains to the ocean. Think about the activities you want to do and how far you want to drive when choosing an appropriate site. Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about boondocking in North Carolina. 

North Carolina abounds in free camping opportunities, so load up your RV and head to one of these great options. If you don’t have an RV, then take advantage of this opportunity by renting one from RVshare.

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