Top Ten Tent Camping in the Carolinas

Top 10 Carolinas Tent Camping
  |  Gorp.com
Camping in North Carolina
 (North Carolina Div. of Tourism)

North and South Carolina offer varied and scenic ecosystems overlain with a rich human history. Both states stretch from the alluring Blue Ridge Mountains in the west—the highest, and some would argue, the most scenic range of the Appalachians—to the saltwater washed sands of the Atlantic coast in the east. These Southern Appalachians, unmatched in biodiversity in temperate climes, offer shady forests through which clear streams dance over gray boulders, feeding rivers that race toward the Piedmont. Here, where the hills soften, the beauty is more subtle, yet clearly alive to the discerning camper. Enhancing this natural charm, many rivers have been impounded to offer the tent camper endless water recreation opportunities. The central lands give way to the coastal plain where dark rivers quietly flow among buttressed cypress trees. Moving east, the water of the mountains meets the water of the sea, forming rich estuarine habitats, further complementing the ecosystem. Finally, the land ends at the Atlantic Ocean's edge, bordered by slender sand island chains and shell dotted beaches.

It is in the Carolinas where much of our country's formative history took place. For starters, did you know more Revolutionary battles between the Americans and the British took place in South Carolina than in any other state—or that the first English-speaking colonies in North America were located in North Carolina? In fact, under a charter from Queen Elizabeth, Sir Walter Raleigh initiated two North Carolina colonies in the 1580s. It is this melding of human and natural history that makes exploring the Carolinas so appealing.

Today tent campers can enjoy each of these distinct regions of the Carolinas. At the lofty altitude of 6,320 feet in Mount Mitchell State Park, you can pitch your tent at the highest campground in the East. Or camp along a federally designated Wild and Scenic river, such as the Chattooga or the New. The central Carolinas has quiet Woods Ferry, where Civil War soldiers once crossed the Broad River and where you can rejoin nature at West Morris Mountain. Here also are the big waters of Lake Norman State Park, where you can camp on a peninsula nearly encircled by the lake. The coastal plain also has scenic rivers ready to be explored, such as the Lumber and Little Pee Dee. A tent camper has to take a ferry to reach Ocracoke Campground. And there is Frisco Campground, about as far east as you can tent camp in the Carolinas, where tall dunes of sand rise high. All this spells paradise for the tent camper. No matter where you go, the scenery will never fail to please the eye.


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