While Carteret County doesn’t necessarily crowd its residents and guests with the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan area, for some there is still a desire to get off the beaten path and convene with nature. For those who think camping can only be done at a more inland locale, the truth may be surprising. We may have plenty of beach attractions to offer visitors, but the region is also host to a variety of campgrounds as well. From deep in the Croatan Forest to the barren, unmarked stretches of the Southern Outer Banks, camping is alive and well along the Crystal Coast and there are plenty of options when it comes to roughing it!
Cape Lookout National Seashore 131 Charles St. Harkers Island, 28531, (252) 728-2250
There’s a lot to be said for camping with the crash of waves to soothe you to sleep. Free primitive camping is allowed all along the 55-mile stretch of the Southern Core Banks. Fires must be below the high water line. Be prepared – there are no designated campsites. Visitors must bring all necessary items and are asked to remove all trash and debris upon departure. Bathrooms are available at the visitor’s center.
Coastal Riverside Campground, 216 Clark Lane, Otway
With 53 RV sites and 25 tent sites, this Down East campground with water access combines basic amenities with primitive camping. A bath house, laundry facilities, boat ramp and pier are available on site. Reservations are suggested during the summer months. Sites are $16 without hook ups and $25 with, for two people.
Cedar Creek Campground & Marina, State Road 1376, Sea Level, (252) 225-9571
Open from April 1 to Nov. 1, this Sea Level campground offers both tent and RV sites with access to Core Sound. Boat slips, gas, fish cleaning facilities, boat launch, pool, bath house, recreation room and limited groceries are available on site.
Cedar Point Campground, 141 E. Fisher Ave., Cape Carteret, (252) 638-5628
Located in the western end of the county, this Croatan National Forest campground sits on the edge of a salt marsh with access to the White Oak River. A boat ramp is available and hiking trails lead campers through the forest’s dense vegetation. A bath house is located on-site and showers are wheelchair accessible. Rates are $17 a day.
Driftwood Campground, 3575 Cedar Island Road, Cedar Island, (252) 225-4861
Providing a prime spot for kayakers and fishermen, and just a stone’s throw from the state ferry to Ocracoke, this Cedar Island campground comes with all the trimmings. Sites are $25 a night. Reservations are not necessary, however, they are recommended during the summer months. Water and electricity are available. A nearby store, restaurant and motel provide added comforts.
Goose Creek Family Resort, 350 Red Barn Road, Newport,(252) 393-2628
A full list of amenities await campers at this easily-accessible location off of Hwy 24. Horseshoe, volleyball, basketball, game room, swimming pool and water slide and more can be found on the banks of Bogue Sound. A boat ramp and dock is always available. Tent sites start at $33 a night.
Oyster Point Campground, Mill Creek Road, Newport
Situated near the Intracoastal Waterway and nestled between the pines of the Croatan National Forest, this campground really brings you back to nature. Small and intimate, this location has only 15 campsites and two vault toilets. Sites have a fire grill, tent pad, lantern post and picnic table. The fee is $8 a night.
White Oak Shores Camping & RV Resort, 400 Wetherington Landing Road, Stella, (252) 393-3244
Nestled between the Croatan National Forest and the banks of the White Oak River, this easy-to-find campground offers 50 tent sites and space for RV’s, too. A swimming pool, meeting hall, basketball and volleyball, make it a great spot for the whole family and its proximity to the beach and other attractions make it an ideal place to set up base. Tent sites begin at $40 a night.