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Camping in the High Country

Nothing says “summer” quite like camping. 

If you prefer camping out under the stars in the woods of a national park or lounging comfortably in your RV with a lakefront view, the High Country has many scenic camping options to choose from. 

High Country campgrounds feature a host of activities: kayaking, rock climbing, biking, hiking, tubing, sports, fishing and more, as well as playgrounds and family activities for the kids. Up here, it’s easy to find the camping experience you’re looking for. 

Camping is permitted in national forests, but not on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Camp must be at least 1,000 feet from vehicular roads, as well as parking and recreation areas. National forests in the High Country include Pisgah National Forest, Linville Gorge and Grandfather Mountain. 


• The Linville Gorge Wilderness 

The “Grand Canyon of North Carolina” is part of the Pisgah National Forest. The gorge is formed by Jonas Ridge on the east and Linville Mountain on the west and is bisected by the Linville River, which drops 2,000 feet into the valleys below. Recreation opportunities include hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, fishing and hunting.

Camping is permitted in the Linville Gorge Wilderness, but permits are required on weekends and holidays May 1 to Oct. 31.

Free permits may be obtained at the District Ranger’s Office in Marion Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Walk-in permits, for the current week only, are available at the Linville Gorge Information Cabin, located on Kistler Memorial Highway. The cabin is open April through October, seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


• Grandfather Mountain State Park

Backpack camping is allowed with a permit at 13 backpack camping sites along the trail system. Though camping is free, campers must self-register at the trailheads. Campers must leave vehicles at either the Profile Trail or Blue Ridge Parkway trailheads; no vehicles can be left overnight in the Grandfather Mountain attraction. For cooking, a gas-powered backpacking stove is recommended. Water is available only from intermittent streams. The park office is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Reservations for group camping: The Daniel Boone campsite is now available for reservations. This is the only campsite in the park that is available for advance reservations. All others are walk-in, first-come-first-serve. This is a group site and is available only for groups of 7 to 12 campers. To make reservations, visit or call (877) 722-6762. Permits are still required when camping at this site (permits are located at the self-registration kiosk near the trailhead. For more information call the park office at (828) 963-9522 or email



Blue Bear Mountain Campground

196 Blue Bear Mountain Road

Todd, N.C.

(828) 406-4226

Blue Bear Mountain is a facility offering private, remote, rustic, leave-no-trace tent camping on 150 acres of pristine, natural land. RV camping, while not remote, still offers the beauty of a natural setting. Blue Bear Mountain offers spacious, low-density RV Camping, private rustic car-accessible tent camping. and remote tent camping. Located eight miles from Boone.


Buck Hill Campground

6401 N.C. 19-E South

Plumtree, N.C.

(828) 766-6162

Located 10 miles north of Spruce Pine in the Blue Ridge Mountains along 1,600 feet of the North Toe River, Buck Hill Campground is the perfect place for families to relax and play, offering 60 large, shady RV sites, each equipped with picnic tables, fire pits and full hookups. The campground features 144 acres of hiking trails. Enjoy a lazy ride down the river on your inner tube or spend the day fishing from the trout-filled waters stocked by the state hatchery. Primitive tent campers can enjoy the campground’s open grassy fields overlooking the pond. 


Down by the River Campground

292 River Campground Road 

Pineola, N.C.

(828) 733-5057 

At an elevation of 3,350 feet, Down by the River Campground offers full hook-ups and spacious RV and tent camping by the Linville River. Open through October.


Flintlock Campground

171 Flintlock Campground Drive, N.C. 105

Boone, N.C.

(828) 963-5325

Enjoy camping in the center of North Carolina’s High Country! Flintlock Campground features all the camping amenities, including cabins, tent sites and full hookups. Located on a mountainside stream at 3,500 feet in elevation, Flintlock is open April through October.


Grandfather Campground

125 Profile View Road

Banner Elk, N.C.

(828) 355-4535

Located just off N.C. 105 about 10 miles south of Boone, Grandfather Campground RV Resort & Cabins covers acres of breathtaking scenic views. More than 100 acres are kept by nature herself and are ideal for light to moderate hiking. Or go a little further to Grandfather Mountain, where you can choose your hiking by level of difficulty and distance. See the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, natural wildlife habitat and more. Full RV hookups and tent sites available. Open year round.


Helton Creek Campground

2145 Helton Road

Grassy Creek, N.C.

(336) 384-3474 

A family campground nestled in the banks of Helton Creek in Ashe County, five miles from N.C. 16 North and minutes away from the New River, Virginia Creeper Trail, Shatley Springs and Mount Rogers. Shady and peaceful with sites for tents and full RV hookups.


Honey Bear Campground

229 Honey Bear Campground Road

Boone, N.C.

(828) 963-4586

Conveniently located off Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 294 or just one mile off N.C. 105, Honey Bear Campground features 26 acres of seclusion just three miles from downtown Boone. The campground features fishing, hiking, tent sites, full RV hookups and cabins.


Julian Price Park Campground

Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 297

(828) 963-5911

Located a few minutes south of Blowing Rock on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Julian Price Memorial Park features a campground with non-electric RV and tent sites, as well as bathroom and drinking water facilities. Campers have convenient access to hiking trails, fishing and boat rentals on Price Lake and picnic facilities. Open early May through the fall leaf season. 



123 Harmony Mountain Lane

Boone, N.C.

(828) 264-7250

Located just outside of the Boone town limits off of N.C. 194, the Boone KOA Campground has tent sites, cabins and full RV hookups. Open until Nov. 1.


Raccoon Holler Campground

493 Raccoon Holler Road

Jefferson, N.C.

(336) 982-2706

Raccoon Holler is adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway between mileposts 257 and 258 at an elevation of 3,200 feet. Raccoon Holler features 150 sites with full hook-ups, a stocked lake, hiking, swimming and canoeing. Open from April 20 through Oct. 31.


Rivercamp USA 

2221 Kings Creek Road

Piney Creek, N.C.

(336) 359-2267

Rivercamp USA features riverfront, full-hookup campsites for RVs, tents and pop-ups. Rent canoes, kayaks and inner tubes for a leisurely float down the wild and scenic New River. Convenient to the Blue Ridge Parkway, I-77 and I-81. Open through October.


Vanderpool Campground 

120 Campground Road

Vilas, N.C.

(828) 297-3486

Located in Vilas, just seven miles north of Boone on U.S. 421, Vanderpool Campground in Boone offers year-round RV camping and tent camping. 


Camping Tips

• Bring warm clothes and linens. High Country autumns bring delightful weather during the day, but the mercury can dip into cool temperatures at night. Be prepared.

• Lather on sunscreen and bug spray. Contrary to some beliefs, mosquitos and other bugs do thrive in the mountains. And while it may not be as muggy here as in the lower elevations, you’ll get sunburned just as easily.

• Leave the firewood at home. Firewood from locations outside of the High Country can transfer non-native, invasive species that can disturb the local ecosystem. Many camping facilities sell firewood on site.

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Resting like a cool, blue jewel amidst the emerald green of the mountains, Watauga Lake is arguably one of the most stunning pieces of nature in all of the High Country. With swimming areas, miles of hiking trails, campsites and boating opportunities galore, the lake is a beloved destination…

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Everyone needs a break from reality sometimes. What better way to get it, as well as enjoy the natural beauty of autumn in the High Country, than roughing it? Camp out at one of the area’s many scenic campgrounds in the midst of the fall colors.

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