10 Best Campgrounds in Nantahala Forest

by | Nantahala National Forest

Camping is such a fun experience. Sleeping under the stars, or in a tent, with nothing but the sound of a forest and the crackle of a campfire at night brings peace and happiness. The smell of the smoke from a fire glowing in the dark, marshmallows roasting, and happy people relaxing away from the noise of life for a little while is one of life’s greatest pleasures.  Carolina Outfitters want you to experience all that camping entails so we’ve put together the 10 best tent and RV friendly campgrounds in the Nantahala National Forest.

Nantahala RV Resort & Campground

Nantahala RV Resort campground near Bryson City

Nantahala RV Resort & Campground is conveniently located just off of highway 19/74 on Wesser Creek Road about one mile from the Nantahala River. They are ‘big rig friendly’ and also provide sites for tent camping. A bathhouse is provided for your use. During your stay you can enjoy gem mining (right next to the campground), hiking, white water rafting with Carolina Outfitters, fishing, boating, ziplining, and horseback riding–all located within a mile or two of the campground. The Nantahala General Store is located within walking distance for any grocery needs and camping supplies, and they also serve biscuits for breakfast (sausage, egg, bacon, etc.) and pizza (whole or by-the-slice)! We can’t think of a more perfect place for your camping pleasure right on the edge of the Nantahala National Forest.

Jackrabbit Mountain Recreation Area

Jack Rabbit Mountain Recreation

Located on a peninsula of Lake Chatuge on the Hiwassee River in western North Carolina, Jackrabbit Mountain Recreation Area has 92 wooded lots for camping. RV spots are available but there are no hookups. Hot showers, flushing toilets, and water are available. Enjoy many outdoor activities while you camp such as swimming, picnicking, mountain biking and hiking trails, fishing and motorized boating access to the lake. This is a reservation only campground. 

Standing Indian Campground

Standing Indian Campground

Near Franklin, North Carolina, at the headwaters of the Nantahala River, Standing Indian Campground is a crowd pleaser. Surrounded by mountains with trout streams criss-crossing the area, makes a beautiful spot to camp. Easy access to the Appalachian trail is a plus for those who want to do some hiking; the campground is a great stop-over for those hiking the Appalachian trail. Fishing the streams is a popular outdoor captivity to enjoy at Standing Indian Campground. Tent and RV camping spots are available.  RV length is 50 ft maximum. No electric hookups. Dump station located within a mile.

Cheoah Point Recreation Area

Cheoah Point Recreation Area

Near Robbinsville, North Carolina on Highway 29, the Cheoah Point Recreation Area sits adjacent to Santeetlah Lake. They provide camping spots for tents and RVs with hookups. Flushing toilets, drinking water, and a boat ramp are available for your use. Also enjoy camping, picnicking, swimming, fishing, and hiking in the area. Cabin rentals are also available. 

Tsali Recreation Area

Tsali Bicycle Lake

Near Robbinsville and Bryson City, North Carolina, the Tsali Recreation Area provides a host of activities including tent camping and spots for small RVs (no hookups). Tsali is famous for its challenging mountain bike trails. You can also do horseback riding on designated days so be sure and check the schedule before heading out. Hiking the trails is available every day. Flush toilets, hot showers and drinking water are available. Enjoy fishing, motorized boating, and kayaking on Fontana Lake. 

Van Hook Glade Campground

VanHook Glade Campground

Van Hook Glade Campground is a secluded haven from the outside world; a quiet place to camp in the Nantahala National Forest near Highlands North Carolina. Up the road a little ways is the Cliffside Lake Recreation Area where you can swim, fish, hike, and enjoy a picnic with family and friends. Tent camping and space for small RVs are available. Flushing toilets and hot showers are included. 

Appletree Group Campground

Appletree campground

The Appletree Campground is for large groups who come in to experience the many activities the Nantahala National Forest has to offer. The campground can accommodate up to groups of 50 people. They provide restrooms with flushing toilets and a shower house. Hiking a portion of the Bartram National Recreation Trail and rafting the Nantahala River are two of the most popular activities in the area. Fishing and sightseeing are also fun things to do in the area.

Rattler Ford Campground

campfire camping

Rattler Ford Campground near Robbinsville and the Nantahala National Forest is another great place for groups of up to 25 people per unit. Showers, flushing toilets, and drinking water are available. They also have a volleyball court and horseshoe pit for your enjoyment. Fishing, hiking, and white water rafting are within close range. The Joyce Kilmer Forest is just a half a mile away–a beautiful forest filled with old-growth trees over 400 years old–great for hiking.

Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground

Deep Creek campground in the woods

You’ll find several campgrounds to choose from at Deep Creek Campground.  Located near the trailheads, this campground is open early April through late October and offers easy hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and fishing access. Hookups and showers are not provided, but flush toilets and drinking water are available. Spaces are available for RVs but no hookups.

Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground offers tent, RV, and popup campsites with full hookups for 30 & 50 amp electric use. They have a large bathhouse with individual rooms. For RVs they have10 big rig sites including 3 pull-through sites with full hook-ups. Rent tubes and go tubing down Deep Creek! The Deep Creek picnic area and trailheads are just up the road for outdoor activities. 

Winding Stair Farm Campground

Winding Stair Farm Campground

Winding Stair Farm Campground began as a logging camp in the late 1800s. After that it was the first major stop for those hiking the Appalachian Trail. Today they offer camping and glamping sites with spaces available next to the Nantahala River. A community pavilion offers ample space for entertaining and get-togethers. Their bathhouse has showers and flushing toilets. This secluded place is next to a working farm where you can visit with the animals, including Icelandic sheep.

If camping is your pleasure, the above provides you with a variety of options, so you’re sure to find one that suits your needs. Don’t forget to book your white water rafting adventure with Carolina Outfitters before you leave!


Margaret Marr, is a local author of paranormal, mystery, and suspense laced with romance. She has written over 15 books available on Amazon. 


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