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Camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Camping is a popular outdoor activity for people traveling through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. This region of the Blue Ridge Mountains is home to a number of state and federal forests and parks that provide camping sites, campgrounds, or backwoods camping opportunities. Some popular attractions with camping include:

Camping - Deep Creek
Camping is popular across the Blue Ridge.

Camping in our National Parks

Two of the nation’s most visited national park lands lie within the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area: the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Scenic and outdoor opportunities abound in both of these national parks in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, which offer a variety of campsites, some with full amenities, some primitive.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway, nine campgrounds serve the visitor from early May through the fall color season.  Visit the NPS website for information about Parkway campgrounds operated by the National Park Service.  For information about both National Park camping and nearby private campgrounds, visit the Blue Ridge Parkway Association’s  website.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers several different types of campsites, including backcountry, developed campgrounds, group campsites and campgrounds that can accommodate horses.  For those seeking to enjoy the backcountry camping opportunities within the Park there is now a $4 per person per night fee. Permits and reservations are required for backcountry camping and can be obtained online, and anytime 30 days in advance.

Camping in National Forests

Two major National Forests cover literally hundreds of miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina and offer excellent opportunities not only for camping, but also hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, fishing, mountain biking, or just enjoying the great outdoors.  The Nantahala National Forest is in the far western and southern region of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolilna, while the half-million acres of Pisgah National Forest drape like a cloak around the Asheville, North Carolina area.

Both the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests offer a wide variety of camping opportunities. Visit recreation.gov for more information on camping in National Parks, National Forests, and other federal lands. The site also offers on-line camping reservations.

Photo courtesy of Mark File, romanticasheville.com.

Camping in  State Parks and Forests

Nine state parks, two state forests and the Green River Game Lands in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina protect spectacular natural landmarks and provide outstanding recreational opportunities. These state lands are popular destinations for hiking, camping, picnicking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing, boating, and swimming.

Camping Near Cherokee, NC

One of the most popular destinations in the Blue Ridge Mountains is Cherokee,  home to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the Oconaluftee Cherokee Indian Village. Visitors to the Cherokee region have a variety of accommodation options including camping at a number of nearby private campgrounds and within the Nantahala National Forest.

Camping Near Historic Small Towns 

Many visitors to the Blue Ridge Mountains come to explore the quaint and historic small towns and cities. These towns and cities often provide unique accommodations including historic inns and bed and breakfasts.  However camping is also available in or nearby these communities for those looking for a more rugged and scenic travel experience.

Private Campgrounds

To find campgrounds in and near the historic small towns and cities in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, visit the websites of the three “Host Groups,” hospitality resources that help visitors find accommodations, including campgrounds, restaurants, and attractions in the North Carolina mountains and foothills:

Local Chambers of Commerce also provide listings of private camping facilities.

Popular Blue Ridge Camping Areas

Some of the most popular areas in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina for camping include sites near Brevard, Hot Springs, and other small mountain towns in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge, along the New River, in both the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the nine North Carolina state parks in the region.  Click here for a list of major attractions in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area that offer camping.

Other Fun Activities During Your Camping Trip

Camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains provides close access to many of the other great outdoor activities that this region has to offer including: bicycling, birding, visiting local farms and farmers’ markets, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, river adventures, and winter sports.

Camping tips

  • Because the weather or temperature can change with altitude in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, dressing in layers will allow you to stay comfortable.
  • Sudden showers are a common occurrence in the mountains of Western North Carolina, especially in summer, making a poncho or other water resilient wear almost a necessity.
  • Make sure that you don’t trespass onto private property.
  • Bring plenty of water for your stay. Don’t trust that the water in rivers or ponds is okay to drink.
  • Pack a first aid kit.
  • Wear comfortable shoes or hiking boots.
  • Don’t leave valuables in your car, RV or campground.
  • Check to make sure you are allowed to build a fire and that permits are not required. Some places only allow a cooking fire or will provide a fire ring to use.
  • Leave wild animals alone.
  • Do not leave food or food related items such as cooking utensils unsecured.
  • Remember always to collect your trash and take it with you.