Winter car camping: 15 year-round campgrounds

A sad thing about car camping in the high country of the Carolinas: come mid to late fall the campgrounds all go into hibernation. Well, not all of them, exactly. As part of our collaboration with the Great Outdoor Provision Co., we’ve come up with a list of 15 places to camp year-round — 15 legal places, where you won’t have to worry about the county sheriff rousting you in the middle of the night. In the uplands of South Carolina we didn’t have to look hard: every state park campground we checked remains open year round — we included four in our list. North Carolina is more inclined to close its campgrounds in the winter, but we did find two (South Mountains and New River State parks). Ditto the National Forest Service campgrounds (we’ve got two: Davidson River and nearby N. Mills River). The rest are what are known as “dispersed campsites,” those found along certain remote gravel roads in our National Forests. Thought you had to take a break from car camping come winter? Think again.

Below are quick descriptions of the 15 campgrounds open year-round. For detailed information, click More info here.

1. Ammons Branch

Where: Pisgah National Forest along Bull Pen Road near Highlands, N.C.
Latitude: 35.0135
Longitude: 83.0861
No. of campsites: 4
Cost: free
Stuff to do nearby: hike, fish

More info here.

2. Big Ivy Area, Coleman Boundary

Where: Appalachian Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest near Barnardsville, N.C.
Latitude: 35.4532
Longitude: 82.2318
No. of campsites: not designated
Cost: free
Stuff to do nearby: hiking, biking

More info here.

3. Blue Valley dispersed camping

Where: Pisgah National Forest, NC 28S 5.5 miles south of US 64 near Highlands, N.C.
Latitude: 35.0024
Longitude: 83.1244
No. of campsites: 22
Cost: free
Stuff to do nearby: hiking, fishing, nature viewing

More info here.

4. Burrells Ford

Where: 112 Andrew Pickens Circle, Mountain Rest, S.C.
Latitude: 35.0966
Longitude: 83.1166
No. of campsites: not designated, about 10
Cost: free
Stuff to do nearby: hike, paddle

More info here.

5. Davidson River

Where: Pisgah National Forest, US 276 1 mile north of US 64/NC 280 near Brevard, N.C.
Latitude: 35.1722
Longitude: 82.4405
No. of campsites: 160 (not all open year-round).
Cost: $20
Stuff to do nearby: hiking, mountain biking, fishing, fly fishing

More info here.

6. Devils Fork State Park

Where: 161 Holcombe Circle, Salem, S.C.
Latitude: 34.9516
Longitude: 82.9464
No. of campsites: 84
Cost: $20-22 with hookups, $16 (less in offseason)
Stuff to do nearby: paddling, hiking

More info here.

7. Fires Creek Recreation Area

Where: Nantahala National Forest, Off US 64, between NC 175 and SR 1344 near Hayesville, N.C.
Latitude: 35.0627
Longitude: 83.4912
No. of campsites: 9
Cost: free
Stuff to do nearby: hiking, fishing

More info here.

8. Hot Springs Area

Where: Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs, N.C.
Latitude: 35.5349
Longitude: 82.4967
No. of campsites: not designated
Cost: free
Stuff to do nearby: hiking, whitewater kayaking

More info here.

9. Kings Mountain State Park

Where:1277 Park Road, Blacksburg, S.C.
Latitude: 35.0799
Longitude: 81.2104
No. of campsites: 125
Cost: $16-18 for sites with hookups, $12-13 for tent sites
Stuff to do nearby: hiking, paddling, fishing

More info here.

10. Wine Spring Horse Camp

Where: Nantahala National Forest, 90 Sloan Road (address of nearby office of Nantahala Ranger District office in Franklin)
Latitude: 35.1046
Longitude: 83.3672
No. of campsites: 5
Cost: free
Stuff to do nearby: hiking, horseback riding

More info here.

11. New River State Park

Where: 358 New River State Park Road, Laurel Springs, N.C.
Latitude: 36.4676
Longitude: 81.3403
No. of campsites: 45
Cost: $13
Stuff to do nearby: paddling

More info here.

12. North Mills River

Where: N. Mills River Road (SR 1345) 4.7 miles from NC 191, near Mills River, N.C.
Latitude: 35.2439
Longitude: 82.3981
No. of campsites: 31
Cost: $17
Stuff to do nearby: hiking, mountain biking, fishing.

More info here.

13. Oconee State Park

Where: 624 State Park Road, Mountain Rest, S.C.
Latitude: 34.8686
Longitude: 83.1055
No. of campsites: 155
Cost: $16-$20 for hookups, $11-$15 without
Stuff to do nearby: fishing, paddling, hiking

More info here.

15. South Mountains State Park

Where: 3001 South Mountain Park Ave., Connelly Springs, N.C.
Latitude: 35.5963
Longitude: 81.6000
No. of campsites: 11
Cost: $13
Stuff to do nearby: hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing

More info here.

15. Table Rock State Park

Where: 158 E. Ellison Lane, Pickens, S.C.
Latitude: 35.0235
Longitude: 82.4232
No. of campsites: 94.
Cost: $16-21 for sites with hookups, $9-13 for primitive sites
Stuff to do nearby: paddling, hiking, fishing,

More info here.

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5 Comments

  1. Warm up to Winter car camping | GetGoing NC! says:

    [...] 'slow'} ); Share HomeWhat we’re aboutAsk JoeWhere to play in North CarolinaCampingWinter car camping: 15 year-round campgroundsClimbingLearn to climbClimbing GymsCross-country skiingGreenway [...]

    Reply
  2. Patrick Mueller says:

    Dude. Right under your nose. There are camping sites at Jordan still open. Or supposed to be, according to the web site - http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/jord/main.php - click the "details" link beside "Campground Information" at the top of the page.

    Here are the locations:

    - New Hope - Primitive camping areas A and B will remain open during the winter 2012/spring 2013 for year-round camping.

    - Poplar Point - Loops C and E will remain open during the winter 2012/spring 2013 for year-round camping.

    New Hope's primitive camping isn't really typical car camping. You'll have to hike 100 (or 500) yds from the parking lot to the sites. Bring a wagon. :-)

    Reply
    • JoeMiller says:

      These 15 are just in the mountains. We'll be adding a list of campgrounds in the state's seven major metropolitan areas, including year-round areas such as those at Jordan Lake.

      Reply
      • eden hutton says:

        Is there any car camping in the Chapel Hill area for short stays, eg just passing through?
        Does car camping mean that you sleep in your car and a tent is not obligatory?

      • JoeMiller says:

        You can find five places to camp in the Chapel Hill area here. And I reckon as long as you pay for your site you're probably welcome to sleep in your car.

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