Nantahala National Forest Campgrounds

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Nantahala National Forest Campgrounds

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Seasons, Rates and Forest Information

Primarily because of budgetary constraints imposed by the Congress and weather, season and rates (fees) can change without notice. And, although not a common occurrence, campgrounds can be closed for renovation or natural disaster. Fees for campgrounds vary from free to $25 per day. Typical fees run from $5 to $12 per day. Normally, there is an additional charge for a second vehicle, which rarely includes a towable or tow vehicle/travel trailer combination. Many of the developed campgrounds are unattended and paying the fee is based on the honor system. Especially if reservations cannot or are not going to be made or it is close to the beginning or end of a season, it is a good idea to call the Ranger District Office to ensure the selected campground is open and confirm the fee. Both the Forest Supervisor and Ranger District Offices have literature available for the public about the Forest (including maps) and the surrounding areas; contact either office for additional information


National Forest campgrounds permit pets, but they are required to be leashed and under control. This is true not only in the campground but also when hiking. An uncontrolled pet on the trail can bring a bear to its owner. Also, unleashed animals are a threat to wildlife and could become infected with a disease. While rabies is always a concern, other diseases could be transmitted to a domestic animal. Be safe and keep pets close and under control at all times. Of course, pet droppings should be picked up and properly discarded. Although not required by the Forest Service, having a valid immunization shot certification from a veterinarian is a good thing to do. Some private campgrounds require certification and Canadian law requires it when visiting there. In the event of illness or injury to the animal or others, quarantine may occur if a shot certification cannot be produced.

Cheoah District

Cheoah Ranger District
Route 1, Box 16-A
Robbinsville, North Carolina 28771


Cable Cove

The campground is adjacent to a stream and 0.5 mile from Fontana Lake. It is located in mature hardwood with most of the underbrush cleared out. Sites are spacious and nicely shaded. The lake is very popular with canoeists.

Cheoah Point

The campground is situated in mature hardwoods on a peninsula of Lake Santeetlah. Most of the tent sites are adjacent to lake.

Ferebee Memorial

Limited picnicking, canoeing and fishing.


Horse Cove

The campground is situated in mature hardwood and Spruce trees with some sites adjacent to Santeetlah Creek. Rhododendrons are abundant too.

Nearby, is the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Some of the Yellow Poplars are over 400 years old, 20 feet in circumference and 100 feet tall. To enjoy this virgin splendor, there are two easy loop trails - one is 1.25 miles and the other is 0.75 miles.


Joyce Kilmer

Open all year. No fee. 2 loop trails (1.25 and 2 miles) through old-growth hardwood grove. Picnic bathrooms, hiking, fresh water,r information center.

From ROBBINSVILLE, take 129-N for 1 mi. Turn left onto NC143-W. Turn right onto 1127, about 2 miles to Joyce Kilmer Rd.

Rattler Ford Group Camp
Open 4/6-10/31. Group camping by reservation (call 828-479-6431). 4 sites for up to 25/site. Camping showers bathrooms fishing hiking drinking water and information

On Snowbird Creek. Camping, bathrooms, fishing.


The campground is located at base of paw-shaped peninsula on Fontana Lake. The area is covered with a network of horse and mountain bike trails. At the time of visit, almost every site was occupied by mountain biking campers. There is even an area to wash bikes. The campground is heavily wooded with little underbrush making for minimal privacy between sites.

Horses are not allowed in the campground, but stalls and trailer parking are provided in a separate horse users area, a short distance above the campground. Trail use alternates between horse and mountain bike riders. Contact the Ranger District Office for specific days.

Highlands District

Highlands Ranger District
2010 Flat Mountain Road
Highlands, NC 28741
(Follow the signs from U.S. 64 east of Highlands)

Ammons Branch
Open all year. No fee. Primitive camping, hiking, bathrooms no water

Directions: From HIGHLANDS, follow Main St. east out of town about 4.5 miles through Horse Cove. When pavement ends, bear right on Bull Pen Rd. and go 1.5 miles.

Balsam Lake & Balsam Lake Lodge
Balsam Lake day-use are open all year. Accessible trails and fishing along Wolf Creek. No water or restrooms in winter.

Balsam Lake Lodge is available to rent from 3/1-11/30. Lodge sleeps up to 16 people.
Reservations 1-877-444-6777

From TUCKASEGEE, take NC 281-S 8.75 miles,turn left on SR 1756,go about 5 miles to the lodge and 1 mile farther for the day use area.

Blue Valley Prim. Camp & Backcountry area
Open all year. No fee. Primitive camping, no water. Camping Hiking and bathrooms

From HIGHLANDS, follow NC 28 south 5.5 miles. Turn right at sign.

Cliffside Lake

Fee area 5/1-10/31. 2 picnic shelters by reservation (828) 862-5960. Picnic, bathrooms , bathhouse with cold showers,fishing,swimming hiking fresh water and information. Short trails. No fee in winter.

From HIGHLANDS, take U.S.64-W for 4.5 miles, turn right at signpp

Highlands Visitor Center

Information, exhibits. Handicap bathrooms, drinking water and information.


Van Hook Glade

The campground is situated in a grove of mature Rhododendrons,hardwood and some Spruce. Sites are secluded and well screened from one another - very picturesque campground. US Rt. 64 is a spectacular scenic byway through Cullasaga River Gorge. At time of visit, public phone was inoperable.

Whitewater Falls
Open all year. $2/car. Highest waterfall (411') east of the Rocky Mountains.

From CASHIERS, take NC 107-S for 10 miles to NC-SC Stateline. Drive 1 mile, take first paved road to the left. Follow signs.

Whiteside Mtn.

Open all year. $2/car. 2 mile loop trail to 4930" high vista above sheer cliff face. Popular rock climbing area. Also a Peregrine Falcon nesting site. Bathrooms, hiking, scenic.

From HIGHLANDS, take U.S.64-E about 5 miles.Turn right on SR 1680, follow signs.

Tusquitee District

Tusquitee Ranger District,
201 Woodland Drive,
Murphy, NC 28906.
Phone (704) 837-5152.

Fires Creek

Fires Creek area open all year. Hike the 0.7-mile loop to Leatherwood Falls or explore 25 miles of trail open to hikers and horses. Handicap bathroom available at recreation area. Bristol Horse Camp. $5/site.
From HAYESVILLE, go 5 miles on U.S.64-W. Turn right on SR 1302 for 3.7 miles and left on Fires Creek Rd.(SR 1344).

Hanging Dog

>There are 4 loops in the campground. The Hanging Dog Creek and Hiwassee Lake are primary features of the campground. Hanging Dog Creek is location of the last battle of the Civil War. This campground is close to the Tellico ORV area.

Jackrabbit Mountain

The campground, comprised of three loops, is lightly wooded and nicely manicured. Some sites are adjacent to or overlook Chatuge Lake. The topography of the campground is pleasantly varied making the interior roads a neat "playground" for bikes and roller blades. Amphitheater is currently used only for Sunday services.


Lake Cherokee

Open all year. No fee. Accessible Fishing pier. Picnic shelter. Drinking water and handicap bathrooms available
From MURPHY, take U.S.64-W for 8 miles, turn right on NC 294, go 3 miles.


Wayah District

Wayah Ranger District
90 Sloan Road
Franklin, NC 28734
(Turn at sign on U.S. 64, west of Franklin)


Appletree Group Camp
4 group camp sites for groups up to 50 people. Open 4/1/-10/31. Call the Wayah Ranger Station for Reservations - 828-524-6441. Access to hiking trails.

From Franklin, take U.S. 64 west for about 3 miles. Turn right at LBJ/Wayah signs and take first left beside Loafer’s Glory Store onto Wayah Road (SR 1310), which goes over Wayah Gap and past Nantahala Lake. After passing Lake’s End Store, take first left onto Junaluska Road (SR 1401), toward Andrews for about 2.5 miles to AppletreeGroup Campground.

Arrowood Glade

Picnic bathrooms and drinking water, Swimming Pool at LBJ


Hurricane Primitive
Primitive camp. No water. trailer space, hiking and horseback riding $4/site. Open 3/15-1/1, weather permitting.

Go south from Standing Indian on FR 67 (gravel) for 2 miles.

Nantahala Gorge

Popular rafting & kayaking area with 8.5 miles of whitewater. Local outfitters provide boats, guides, etc. Restrooms, scenic view, fishing

US 19, between ALMOND & TOPTON, travels through the gorge

Standing Indian

Including Kimsey Creek Group Camp

The campground, loaded with Rhododendrons, is bisected by the Nantahala River and Kimsey Creek. There are five loops. Sites 1 through 54 are located on open flats with paved aprons and wide interior road. Sites 55 through 84 are along a hillside, nestled among Rhododendrons and hemlocks, with a steep gravel access road. The campground is situated in what is considered one of the best hiking destinations in the southwest mountains. It is one of the few places where one can actually take a loop hike, a part of which is the Appalachian Trail.

Wayah Crest

Appalachian Trail nearby, picnic, bathroom, hiking


Wayah Bald
Open all year. Enjoy panoramic views from the historic fire tower. Crossed by Appalachian & Bartram Trails. No fee. picnic, bathroom, hiking, scenic view.

From FRANKLIN, take U.S.64-W, turn right on old U.S.64 to SR 1310 (Wayah Rd.). Turn right on FR 69 (gravel) for 4.5 miles.

For more information:

Contact the Ranger District in each area or write:

U.S. Forest Service,
160A Zillicoa Street,
Asheville, NC 28802.

You can also call the information desk Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at 828-257-4200.

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Waterfalls of Western North Carolina | Nantahala National Forest | Appalachian hiking trail | Fires Creek wilderness area | Joyce Kilmer Area
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