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biker 05-29-2020 05:19 AM

North Carolina beach campground recommendations
 
Hi all,


What NC beach campgrounds would you recommend?



Would prefer to be close enough for children to walk and/or ride bicycles to the beach.


Thank you!

gordon2 05-29-2020 06:58 AM

How about South Carolina? It is not that much further and there are four nice beach state parks. I say that being a NC resident too. Normally the primo sites at the SC Beach State Parks are booked months in advance, often with minutes of becoming available. The current situation alters that I would guess, and maybe not to your advantage.
https://southcarolinaparks.com/park-finder

Rod D 05-29-2020 08:25 AM

NC has many really nice US, State, and Private RV campgrounds, but few are on the beach, so that really narrows your search. We've been coming to the NC coast for over 50 years and while we're aware of campgrounds on the beach, we cannot recommend any, as we enjoy having some serious "social distance" when we camp and having our Scamp 10' from our neighbor is NOT what we're looking for. Most of the campgrounds we've seen are commercial and trying to pack as many folks in as possible. That said, if you're not picky then there are places from Whalebone Jct in the North to below Wilmington on the South. Also keep in mind that the Federal Govt got here early and there are lot's of military installations and national seashore here. I say here since we happen to be staying in Emerald Isle right now, but in a family house, not the Scamp. In summary, if WE were to stay "on the beach" we'd do what Gordon suggested and look at one of our favorites at Huntington Beach SP near Murrells Inlet just south of Myrtle Beach, SC. Hope you find your favorite!

Al and Cindy K 05-30-2020 05:50 PM

NC has some great coastal camping opportunities especially along our Outer Banks (OBX) where the majority of the beaches are managed by the National Park Service - Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores. From north to south, Oregon Inlet is the first of four NPS campgrounds on Cape Hatteras. It is the only one with water and electric hookups and the most convenient for visiting the ‘developed’ attractions. Nearby are Wright Brothers Memorial, Jockey’s Ridge State Park (highest sand dune on the east coast), Fort Raleigh National Historic Site (failed attempt to establish first English settlement in America, The Lost Colony (Outdoor drama portraying this effort - Note: written by Paul Greene who also wrote the script for Texas), NC Aquarium, Elizabethan Gardens, Festival Park and Manteo Waterfront. Also lots of shopping, restaurant option and fun parks for kids if you interested in that sort of thing. Drive an hour north and take one of the wild pony excursions. Also check out the Corolla Lighthouse up that way.

From Oregon Inlet, the next campground heading south, Cape Point, is behind the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Things get a lot more laid back after crossing the new bridge and the most common activity down this way is enjoying the beach.

Another ten miles south is the Frisco campground. This one is nestled in the sand dunes and offers the most privacy between sites of any public or private CG in the area.

From Frisco, it’s ten miles to Hatteras (the Hatteras light is actually in Buxton) where you take the free ferry to Ocracoke Island where has the fourth NPS campground s located.

Oregon Inlet, Cape Point and Ocracoke are all laid out in a large oval with a road around the perimeter and cross streets with sites on both sides. For the most part, the sites are.much larger than what you’ll find in the local private CGs but privacy is limited because of the lack of vegetation. No campground, public or private, is directly on the beach but all four of the NPS facilities are within walking distance to the water. If you have a 4WD vehicle, definitely consider getting a permit for beach driving.

Hope you decide to visit with us and let me know if you have questions.

Al

Raz 05-30-2020 06:28 PM

Unfortunately, the park service has made all the Cape Hatteras campgrounds reservation only. Reservations must be made three days in advance. No cash on site, not even at Cape Point. Whether this is temporary or permanent I don't know.

https://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

Al and Cindy K 06-08-2020 02:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Raz (Post 779971)
Unfortunately, the park service has made all the Cape Hatteras campgrounds reservation only. Reservations must be made three days in advance. No cash on site, not even at Cape Point. Whether this is temporary or permanent I don't know.

https://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

Its actually a lot worse than this Raz. I finally got a NPS manager on the phone today and she explained they were going to site specific reservations at all CAHA campgrounds for the 2020 season but rec dot gov had software bugs in the changeover. And the contractor selected to upgrade the Cape Point restrooms had missed his/her deadline and all reservations for that CG were being moved to Frisco but the software couldn't handle the COVID-19 site spacing requirements. Then Cape Point flooded. I think there were more excuses but I can't remember them. Bottom line, the system is supposed to be on-line and working by 6/12. We'll see.

You coming down this year?

Al

Raz 06-09-2020 04:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Al and Cindy K (Post 780966)
Its actually a lot worse than this Raz. I finally got a NPS manager on the phone today and she explained they were going to site specific reservations at all CAHA campgrounds for the 2020 season but rec dot gov had software bugs in the changeover. And the contractor selected to upgrade the Cape Point restrooms had missed his/her deadline and all reservations for that CG were being moved to Frisco but the software couldn't handle the COVID-19 site spacing requirements. Then Cape Point flooded. I think there were more excuses but I can't remember them. Bottom line, the system is supposed to be on-line and working by 6/12. We'll see.

You coming down this year?

Al

I've been camping in the OBX atleast once a year, sometimes twice since 2004 when I bought my first camper. Last year I made it in the spring but missed the fall because of the hurricane. I spend most of my time on Ocracoke. Arrive when I feel like, stay as long as I want, pay a day or two at a time with no fear of losing my spot. All with a very close eye on the weather. To have to make a reservation (and pay a reservation fee) in a campground thats less than 50% full, define my stay days in advance, with no way to extend my stay once I'm there. Doesn't get me excited. After seeing the mess they've made at Oregon Inlet I guess I'm not surprised.

Huck 06-09-2020 06:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Raz (Post 781013)
I've been camping in the OBX atleast once a year, sometimes twice since 2004 when I bought my first camper. Last year I made it in the spring but missed the fall because of the hurricane. I spend most of my time on Ocracoke. Arrive when I feel like, stay as long as I want, pay a day or two at a time with no fear of losing my spot. All with a very close eye on the weather. To have to make a reservation (and pay a reservation fee) in a campground thats less than 50% full, define my stay days in advance, with no way to extend my stay once I'm there. Doesn't get me excited. After seeing the mess they've made at Oregon Inlet I guess I'm not surprised.

For some reason, I prefer the Buxton campground - maybe because that was my introduction to Outer Banks back in the 60's. The last few years when I have camped there, maybe 4 or 5 other campers. On weekends, maybe 20-30 campers in a campground with 202 camp sites.

It floods easily. The last time I was there, I paid for 5 days, but on day 3 I woke up to a foot of water in my camp site. I decided to head home. I was in a site that usually doesn't flood when most others do.

Like you, I try to make a late Spring trip and a fall trip (my favorite).

To the OP. If you have never camped on the Outer Banks, be aware it is an oven in the summer. Most campgrounds have little or no shade. Also, unless your kids are older, riding a bike or walking to the beach can be dangerous. Some days the undertow and waves are quite dangerous.

The NPS campgrounds allow the use of a generator during the day, but not at night.

Carl V 06-09-2020 08:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Raz (Post 781013)
After seeing the mess they've made at Oregon Inlet I guess I'm not surprised.

What have they done?
We camped in Oregon Inlet a few times a few years ago. No hookups, cold showers, but we could show up anytime during weekdays with no reservations and easily get a spot, then as you mentioned, stay there as long as we wanted.
Really loved the place.

Thx

Al and Cindy K 06-09-2020 09:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Raz (Post 781013)
I've been camping in the OBX atleast once a year, sometimes twice since 2004 when I bought my first camper. Last year I made it in the spring but missed the fall because of the hurricane. I spend most of my time on Ocracoke. Arrive when I feel like, stay as long as I want, pay a day or two at a time with no fear of losing my spot. All with a very close eye on the weather. To have to make a reservation (and pay a reservation fee) in a campground thats less than 50% full, define my stay days in advance, with no way to extend my stay once I'm there. Doesn't get me excited. After seeing the mess they've made at Oregon Inlet I guess I'm not surprised.

It looks like recreation.gov is now able to accept site specific same day reservations at the NPS Ocracoke campground from a test I ran this morning. I was able to take the process through to the billing screen for a 6/09 - 6/11 reservation but didn't complete it as we can't leave until Friday. I did make and receive confirmation for D17 for 6/12 - 6/15.

I understand your objections to site specific reservations but we prefer them for NPS campgrounds relatively close to home (OBX to Smokies). There are 6-8 campgrounds with a few sites in each that we prefer. Being retired, we can often make a spur of the moment trip when we find one of those open. If it does work out that same day reservations are allowed at all the Hatteras NPS campgrounds, I think we'll be golden. We'll have one of our 'special' sites for at least a while and can then re-book to the best of what's left if we decide to extend. FTR, I did not see any admin fees on today's transaction - just the $14/night charge. I have experienced those in the past for other campgrounds but this is the first I've ever made for Hatteras. Not sure what triggers this surcharge.

I guess its a good thing we all have different campground preferences - you like Ocracoke, Huck is good with Cape Point, Carl seems to be fine with Oregon Inlet and we'd pick Frisco.

Be safe - Al

Raz 06-09-2020 09:21 AM

They converted 47 sites to full hookups. Being much cheaper than the private campgrounds, the place is now full of class A rigs. They can stay 14 days and many do. It's changed the nature of the place. My understanding is the park service plans to do the same to the other campgrounds.

Raz 06-09-2020 09:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Al and Cindy K (Post 781047)
It looks like recreation.gov is now able to accept site specific same day reservations at the NPS Ocracoke campground from a test I ran this morning. I was able to take the process through to the billing screen for a 6/09 - 6/11 reservation but didn't complete it as we can't leave until Friday. I did make and receive confirmation for D17 for 6/12 - 6/15.

I understand your objections to site specific reservations but we prefer them for NPS campgrounds relatively close to home (OBX to Smokies). There are 6-8 campgrounds with a few sites in each that we prefer. Being retired, we can often make a spur of the moment trip when we find one of those open. If it does work out that same day reservations are allowed at all the Hatteras NPS campgrounds, I think we'll be golden. We'll have one of our 'special' sites for at least a while and can then re-book to the best of what's left if we decide to extend. FTR, I did not see any admin fees on today's transaction - just the $14/night charge. I have experienced those in the past for other campgrounds but this is the first I've ever made for Hatteras. Not sure what triggers this surcharge.

I guess its a good thing we all have different campground preferences - you like Ocracoke, Huck is good with Cape Point, Carl seems to be fine with Oregon Inlet and we'd pick Frisco.

Be safe - Al

I figured they would have to give on that one. Unfortunately not all cell phone carriers work on Ocracoke. :)

Al and Cindy K 06-09-2020 09:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carl V (Post 781042)
What have they done?
We camped in Oregon Inlet a few times a few years ago. No hookups, cold showers, but we could show up anytime during weekdays with no reservations and easily get a spot, then as you mentioned, stay there as long as we wanted.
Really loved the place.

Thx

They've added hot showers for all, E&W hookups for about half the sites and implemented a site specific reservation system.

Currently, I think they're trying to block some sites from occupancy due to COVID19 restrictions and the recreation.gov folks are having problems with what's reserved, what's blocked and what's available. The Park Service and rec.gov aren't communicating very well, there's conflicting info on both websites and its next to impossible to find a real person to talk to with at either organization.

Be safe -Al

Carl V 06-09-2020 10:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Raz (Post 781048)
They converted 47 sites to full hookups. Being much cheaper than the private campgrounds, the place is now full of class A rigs. They can stay 14 days and many do. It's changed the nature of the place. My understanding is the park service plans to do the same to the other campgrounds.

I see.
We used to camp there with our popup camper, mainly among other popups, tents and other small equipments. The best part was there was almost always sites available. No hookups kept most of the big rigs away.

Raz 06-09-2020 01:29 PM

I was told the only time those campgrounds fill is on holiday weekends although with the hook ups Oregon Inlet may now be an exception. Ocracoke was the first to put in reservations because it required a ferry ride to get there. The cost went from $20 to $23. The extra $3 was to pay reserve america. They run the reservation system. There are alot of public campgrounds going reservation only because its cheaper for them. In the outerbanks only the people in the booth (not the hosts) could take money. These folks were only allowed to worked for less than 6 months to avoid being considered full time (No benefits). Most worked at some other park for the other 6 months. Many are retired military so I guess they get health care through the VA. Housing was provided. I wonder if the plan is to do away with those jobs. That seems the only way this would save money?

Joe Romas 06-13-2020 05:24 PM

Just sold our 17' Casita but we, my wife and I, prefer the Frisco campground by far. Last year we met a family that has been going there 50 years, there kids are grown with kids of their own and they all were there. There's enough vegetation separating sites and are two boardwalks to the ocean and the beaches are clean and it's not crowded some nights we even saw deer. We've been to the Outer Banks of NC 12 times in the last 12 years and took our eldest grandson 3 times. We would spend 2 or 3 days at Oregon Inlet then drive down to Frisco to break up the over 700 mile drive from Ohio. The drive even when stopping half way was getting too much for me and the Carnova virus canceling the spring and fall rallies we enjoyed so much we decided it was time to sell our Casita.

jimiller5 06-13-2020 06:09 PM

We’ll be at Frisco week after next. I do like the reservation system because you can pick your spot ahead of time and be assured of getting your preference.

We also sold our Casita and bought a Lance.

Al and Cindy K 06-16-2020 12:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimiller5 (Post 781607)
We’ll be at Frisco week after next. I do like the reservation system because you can pick your spot ahead of time and be assured of getting your preference.

We also sold our Casita and bought a Lance.

We just got back from three nights at Ocracoke and can say the reservation system is still less than reliable and that's being kind. We had a great site reserved but, just as we arrived at the Hatteras ferry landing, received a text saying we'd been reassigned to a different site.

When we checked in, the volunteer said the change was due to the roads being resurfaced. I registered and proceeded to our new site to find it was under 6"+ of water (and more rain expected for the next several days). I went back, told the host 'no way' and, after much discussion, managed to get a site on higher ground. NOTE: On Friday, the recreation dot gov site still showed my original site being reserved through Sunday with availability from Monday through Wednesday of this week.

We went to back to Hatteras Island on Saturday and drove through the Frisco campground. Some restrooms were locked even though sites on that loop were occupied, FTR, its also being re-paved. It was about one quarter full but no sites showed open for the weekend on rec dot gov. Today, if you check availability for a specific Frisco site, it may show with an "A" for a few days, followed by a "R" for a couple more, then a "X" for a day or two, then an "A" again - a pattern that just makes no sense. Hope things work out for you.

Al

Joe Romas 06-16-2020 01:34 PM

[QUOTE=Al and Cindy K;781935] SNIP Today, if you check availability for a specific Frisco site, it may show with an "A" for a few days, followed by a "R" for a couple more, then a "X" for a day or two, then an "A" again - a pattern that just makes no sense.

I ran into that pattern last year. You can expect that kind of thing from the federal government. They were also using the delay in resurfacing the roads excuse last year but this year they have an excuse.
In years past the camp ground ranger told people to just register for a night at a time as you never knew what the weather was going to be like and there are no refunds. Then about 3 or 4 years ago the friendly ranger who remembered your names retired and they started this fiasco program they have now. Since they electrified Oregon Inlet, they are full of "bulge mobiles" :eek:

Last year as years before we were told that Frisco was only full on the weekend of the 4th of July.

I guess this is another reason that this was a good time to sell our Casita.

Raz 08-23-2020 05:40 AM

Anyone camped in the OBX lately. I'm wondering if things have improved? Have they gone back to allowing walk ins or are they still reservation only? I noticed the camping site has cell phone service ratings! :rolleyes:


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