waterfall at north carolina

Best North Carolina State Parks

North Carolina is one of the most welcoming and beautiful states in the nation. The Tar Heel State has some of the best hunting and fishing in the country, and some of the most picturesque state parks you could ever imagine. Whether you love to camp, hike, or simply enjoy the beautiful scenery, North Carolina's state parks have something great to offer. If you're planning an outdoor adventure, the biggest advantage is that there are no entrance fees to enjoy North Carolina state parks. That's a rarity, and a nice surprise for those visiting from out of state. Explore some of the most beautiful scenery that you can find anywhere in the continental U.S. with a visit to one of these great North Carolina state parks

Jordan Lake State Park

north carolina state parks

With over 1,000 family campsites and close to 14,000 acres of open water, the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area has something for everyone: boating, fishing, hiking, and much more. For those that crave more of a social camping experience, Jordan Lake might be just what you've been looking for. Camping enthusiasts who also count themselves as a part of the birding community will be happy to know that there are healthy populations of bald eagles and ospreys in the area.

Crowders Mountain State Park

north carolina state parks

Crowders Mountain State Park has over 5,000 acres of space to view the surrounding countryside, and that includes Crowders Mountain at an elevation of 1,625 feet. If hiking and rock climbing are your thing, or if you want to do some canoeing or fishing, then this is the state park for you. Serious hikers frequent Crowders Mountain, but less avid folks can also enjoy spectacular vistas and rugged terrain without giant hiking commitments. For more adventurous types, both bouldering and rock climbing are available with the correct permits and proper safety training.

Jockey's Ridge State Park

north carolina state parks

Nag's Head might be known for its towering sand dunes along North Carolina's Outer Banks, but it's also the home to the popular Jockey's Ridge State Park. If kite flying, sail-boarding, and windsurfing aren't enough, you can always sign up for hang gliding lessons. Oh, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial isn't too far away. For travelers with a mind on ecology, this is the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast and includes a boardwalk and exhibits that are well known for sharing the area's vast ecological history, all while watching hang gliders float above.

Gorges State Park

north carolina state parks

Not only can you find some amazing waterfalls and hidden swimming holes at Gorges State Park, but fly fishing for both wild trout and smallmouth bass is very popular at this state park. There is primitive camping to be had at Gorges, and if you're an equestrian, the Auger Hole Trail is just what you've been searching for. The park has close to 7,500 acres of wild swimming holes and waterfalls that will leave you breathless. It is far enough south and west that it touches the South Carolina border at Lake Jocassee.

Goose Creek State Park

north carolina state parks

Birders, hikers, and fishermen love Goose Creek for the different ways it can be accessed, but since there are no boat rentals, you will have to bring your own. Some eight miles of trails will lead visitors through a wide range of coastal living experiences such as live oaks draped in the amazing Spanish moss, the incredible wetlands along Pamlico Sound, and cypress swamps full of mystery and delight. Goose Creek is a coastal experience, but it is also just a quick jaunt out to the beauty of the sand beach.

Morrow Mountain State Park

north carolina state parks

Morrow Mountain State Park was built way back in the 1930s during a time when builders really paid attention to detail. When looking for the ideal situation to make plans for the entire family—including camping, hiking, and fishing throughout the backdrop of the mountain range—this park is the answer. At barely an hour north of Charlotte, you can explore over 15 miles of trails while overlooking some of North Carolina's most beautiful piedmont. There are sites for tent camping, trailers, and even RVs along with swimming, backpacking, and even horseback riding.

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