We’re staring down the first steamy weekend of the summer. Frankly, I’m hard pressed to think of something to do outdoors that doesn’t involve water.
There’s swimming, of course. At your local pool (search for local parks and rec departments with pools at the North Carolina Recreation & Parks Association Web site), at a trusted swimming hole (find 76 in North Carolina at SwimmingHoles.org), at the coast (find Outer Banks beaches here, Wilmington area beaches here and assorted other beaches here.
There’s paddling. If you have a canoe or kayak, check out our list below of 21 state parks that have canoe/kayak access. If you don’t have your own boat, there’s always our trusty list of 35 Places Where You Can Rent a Canoe or Kayak in the state. If you’re up for a guided trip — from a quiet journey through a black water swamp to a rollicking romp down Class II, III and IV water, check out this list of outfitters statewide.
Or maybe you’re just looking for an excuse to go wading. Saturday, get your feet wet in the cool waters of the New River during and Aquatic Sampling program at 1 p.m. (336.982.2587 for details on this trip, which meets at the Wagoner Access Area), while Sunday at 2 p.m. at Stone Mountain State Park there’s Aquatic Wild, a chance to poke about the East Prong of the Roaring River for wet wildlife.
Whichever wet option you chose, don’t forget the sunscreen, a hat, protective clothing, bug spray, perhaps a snack or two. And fun, don’t forget to have fun.
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State Parks where you can float your boat
Eno River State Park – Canoe access, river fishing.
Falls Lake State Recreation Area – 10 boat ramps, privately operated marina nearby.
Hanging Rock State Park – Lake swimming and fishing, rowboat and canoe rentals; boat access to nearby river.
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area – Lake fishing and swimming, 32 boat ramps, privately operated marina nearby.
Kerr Lake State Recreation Area – Lake fishing, accessible fishing pier, 14 boat ramps, two privately operated marinas nearby.
Lake Norman State Park – Boat ramp, lake fishing. Rowboat, canoe and pedal boat rentals, swimming and fishing on 33-acre lake inside park.
Lumber River State Park – Central State natural and scenic 115-mile black-water river, 81 miles also designated national wild and scenic waters. Five canoe-in campsites, boat access.
Morrow Mountain State Park – Pool, boat ramp, lake fishing, canoe and rowboat rentals.
Pilot Mountain State Park – Two canoe-in campsites; river fishing, canoe access.
Carolina Beach State Park – Marina with concession area; river fishing from accessible dock. Boat ramps to river; intracoastal waterway and ocean minutes away.
Hammocks Beach State Park – Accessible only by boat: park operates a seasonal passenger ferry and there’s a canoe paddle trail.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park – Swimming, fishing, kayaking and sailboarding in Roanoke Sound.
Dismal Swamp State Park – Rent kayak and take a trip on the Dismal Swamp Canal.
Goose Creek State Park – Canoe access and trail, boat ramp, river fishing and swimming.
Jones Lake State Park – Lake swimming, fishing, canoe and pedal boat rentals. Access for boats with 10-horsepower motors and below.
Merchants Millpond State Park – Seven canoe-in campsites and three canoe-in group campsites. Lake fishing, canoe access, canoe trails, canoe rentals.
Medoc Mountain State Park – Canoe access, creek fishing.
Pettigrew State Park – Fishing pier, boat ramp.
Singletary Lake State Park – Lake fishing and swimming, canoe rentals.
Lake James State Park – Two boat ramp areas, canoe rentals, lake fishing and swimming..
New River State Park – National Wild and Scenic River, more than 30 canoe-in tent campsites, canoe access, river fishing.