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Are you planning to visit North Carolina? If yes, then you must not forget to visit the national park in North Carolina. There are more than 10 national parks in this region however, the 10 best and most beautiful parks mentioned in the article below are worth visiting.

Let’s dig into more about the top 10 national parks in North Carolina!

Top 10 National Parks in North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a wonderful national park in North Carolina that features the glow of ancient mountains, Southern Appalachian mountain culture, and a diversity of animal and plant life. It is the United State’s most visited national park.

Black wild bears are common in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You need to be very careful while hiking through the national park as the behaviour of wild bears is unpredictable.

You can hike or ride a bicycle through the 11-mile loop and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery, historic homes, churches, and wildlife. The wild and blooming flowers found year-round in the park mesmerizes your visit.

The main attraction of this national park is hiking where hikers enjoy the Smoky mountains along with the beauty of nature. Some popular hiking destinations around the park include Charlies Bunion, Alum Cave Bluffs, Andrews Bald, Rainbow Falls, and Chimney Tops.

You can also go for a multi-day backpacking trip however, reservations and permits are required from the park authority.

Some regulations during camping are listed below.

  • Visitors must register and pay a fee for camping at the campground office
  • Reservations are compulsory
  • Each campsite allows only up to six people
  • Two motor vehicles or one vehicle with a trailer is only allowed in the parking site of each campsite
  • Tents are required to be pitched on the pad
  • Campfires are allowed only in fire grates. You must use wood if it is on the ground and dead.
  • Pets are allowed but they must be confined or kept on a 6 feet leash.
  • Waster water mustn’t be disposed of on the ground.
  • Alcohol is permitted in picnics and campsites but the age requirement is at least 21 years old.
  • Bicycle riders, skateboarders, are required to follow all traffic regulations.
  • Fireworks, traps, chainsaws are the prohibited items at the park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Basic Information

Entrance FeeFree for all 
Things to doHiking, Biking, Camping, Sight Seeing, wildlife exploration
Official WebsiteVisit Here!
Contact(865) 436-1200
MapsGet it here!

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a beautiful national park in North Carolina that features a 2,180+ mile long public footpath. Hikers can enjoy the naturally charming, scenic, pastoral, wild, wooded, and culturally embodied lands of the Appalachian Mountains.

The scenic trail was built by private citizens in 1937 and is operated under the supervision of the National Park Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the US Forest Service. Besides, various state agencies and volunteers take care of the hiking trail.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail passes via 14 states in the U.S. that includes Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The trail serves almost 2 million people every year.

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Appalachian Trail National Park in North Carolina

Lodging and Camping Facility at the Appalachian Trail

Hikers can carry a lightweight tent, hammock, tarp or any other camping essential for spending the night at the Appalachian Trail. There are more than 250 shelters and campsites available throughout the trail.

You need to follow certain regulations while camping in the Appalachian trail that includes:

  • Hikers need to set up camping sites at a minimum of 50 feet and a maximum of 100 feet from the trail
  • The camping site must be at least ½ mile from the nearby road
  • Ground fires, charcoal fires, or any other kind of fire are not allowed on the ground. You need to use gas stoves only.
  • Motor vehicles and bicycles are not allowed
  • Hikers need to keep their pets on a leash

Entrance fee for Appalachian Trail

There are no fees, memberships, or permits to hike through the Appalachian Trail which means it is free for all to enjoy the scenic natural beauty. However, certain charges need to be paid in case you wish to stay overnight in shelters or campsites. 

Safety Instructions for Hikers

  • Hikers need to be aware of any potential dangers through the Appalachian Trail and safety awareness is a must.
  • You need to be mentally prepared for any risks
  • You can let others know your hiking plans
  • You must always carry Trail maps and understand using it
  • You need to stay alert of any potential dangers
  • You need to be more careful while hiking alone
  • You mustn’t camp or linger near roads or trailheads
  • You can carry legal firearms for defensive purpose
  • You need to avoid hitchhiking or accepting rides

Appalachian Trail Basic Information

Entrance FeeFree for all (charge applicable only for overnight stay)
Things to doHiking, Camping, Backpacking
Official WebsiteVisit Here!
Contact(304) 535-6278
MapsGet it here!

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is another scenic national park in North Carolina featuring various significant natural resources. You get a beautiful glimpse of the regional flora and fauna as the park is world-renowned for its biodiversity.

The parkway traversing the southern and central Appalachians occupies a broad range of habitats through the Appalachian mountains. People can enjoy the diversity of wildlife, vegetation, geology, and climate while visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Blue Ridge Parkway National Park in North Carolina

What you will experience on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

  • Some of the world’s oldest mountains 
  • The highest mountain peak in the eastern United States ‘Mount Mitchell’
  • The oldest river in North America ‘New River’
  • The deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon ‘Linville Gorge’
  • The highest waterfall east of the Rockies ‘Whitewater Falls’

Lodging facilities in Blue Ridge Parkway

You can get various lodging options in the vicinity of Blue Ridge Parkway like Hotels, Motels, Lodges, Resorts, Ranches, RV Parks, Campgrounds, Cottages, Cabins, Inns, and B&Bs.

Visitors can camp on the parkway in campgrounds or back-country sites. Besides, you can find privately-owned campgrounds nearby the parkway.

Regulations at the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Careful driving is required as the maximum speed limit is 45 miles per hour
  • Commercial vehicles are not allowed on the Parkway
  • Bicycles and Motor vehicles are not allowed on Parkway trails.
  • Swimming in Parkway lakes and ponds are strictly prohibited
  • Motorboats are not allowed.
  • Ground fires are allowed in campgrounds and picnic areas only.
  • Firewood must be purchased with the approved label from a Parkway facility.
  • Metal detectors are not allowed.
  • Visitors mustn’t disturb the animal, and plant life in any way.
  • Hunting and trapping are strictly prohibited.
  • Alcoholic beverages are allowed in campgrounds and picnic spots
  • Drones are not allowed
  • For professional photography, you need to seek a permit 
  • Pets must be on a leash

Blue Ridge Parkway Basic Information

Entrance FeeFree for all (charge applicable only for overnight stay)
Things to doBiking, hiking, fishing, boating, camping, scenic drives
Official WebsiteVisit Here!
MapsGet it here!

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a national park in North Carolina formed by the forces of water, wind, and storms. Visitors can climb Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, kayak, and enjoy the various events at the beach.

Beach activity at the seashore includes beach fires, beach walking, kite flying, off-road vehicle driving, picnicking, relaxing on the beach, sand art, and shelling. You can camp at Cape Hatteras National seashore as it features campgrounds with tent, trailer, and motor home sites.

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Cape Hatteras National Seashore National Park in North Carolina

Fishing is another enjoyable event at the seashore!

Various kinds of fish can be obtained from the surf, piers, and freshwater ponds. As per the national seashore, spring and fall are the best seasons for fishing.

Safety and Regulations at Cape Hatteras

  • Swimming must be done carefully as ocean conditions vary from hour-to-hour
  • Use effective sunscreen for preventing sunburn
  • Be aware of the strong wind 
  • Visitors need to bring appropriate clothing and insect repellant for preventing insect hazards
  • Visitors must not disturb any wildlife

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Basic Information

Entrance FeeFree for all (charge applicable only for beach activities)
Things to doHiking, Fishing, Boating, Swimming, Lighthouse climbing, water activities, beach activities, nature/wildlife viewing
Official WebsiteVisit Here!
Contact(252) 473-2111
MapsGet it here!

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout National Seashore, a national park in North Carolina is known for camping, lighthouse climbing, touring historic villages, horse watching, birding, fishing, and shelling.

Visitors can enjoy Harkers Island Visitor Center which features exhibitions, park films, nature trails, and much more. You can take sunbathe on the beach, swim in the ocean, and enjoy the view from the lighthouse. 

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Cape Lookout National Park in North Carolina (photo by: Seb7157)

Swimming, sunbathing, beach walk, and shelling is available on Shackleford banks. Talking about touring historic villages, you can take a guided tour of the Portsmouth village and then enjoy exhibition, shelling, swimming, and sunbathing at the Theodore & Anne Salter House and Visitor Center.

If you have an entire day to spare, don’t forget to watch horses on Shackleford Banks and reach the point of Cape Lookout to take a glimpse of birds nesting. In addition, you have the opportunity to go kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and searching for wildlife.

The Cape Lookout National Seashore also allows camping or renting a cabin in the park. You can bring a tent, or tarp and spend a memorable as well as an enjoyable night at the seashore. Besides, you can tour the whole park with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

The main attraction of the Cape Lookout National Seashore includes:

  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Birding
  • Beach Driving
  • Duck Hunting Blind Lottery
  • Star Gazing
  • Cape Lookout Lighthouse Climbing

Cape Lookout National Seashore Basic Information

Entrance FeeFree for all (charge applicable only for beach activities)
Things to doHorse watching, Shelling, Hiking, Fishing, Boating, Swimming, Lighthouse climbing, water activities, beach activities, birding, cabin vacations, park classrooms, nature/wildlife viewing, touring historic villages
Official WebsiteVisit Here!
Contact(252) 728-2250
MapsGet it here!

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site is located at Carl Sandburg Lane, Flat Rock Village, North Carolina. The national historic site is the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer Carl Sandburg.

Carl Sandburg is a popular name for the American people of the twentieth century. His music, activism, words, and creation are the sensation for others. This national park in North Carolina features the Sandburg residence, rolling pastures, mountainside woods, goat farm, sheds, 8km hiking trails, 2 small lakes, various ponds, gardens, and an apple orchard.

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Carl Sandburg National Park in North Carolina

You can visit the Sandburg home in any season. One of the interesting things in the park is you can become a Bark Ranger if you bring a dog. You can follow the rules and regulations of bringing pets in the park and hike with your dog.

National Park Fee Free Days, Monthly Writing Workshops, Anniversary events, Christmas events are among the top events scheduled for the year 2021. 

You can also participate in a poetry contest at the Carl Sandburg Historic site in which young students can compete by writing unique poetry. The Historic site announces the theme for the poetry competition and students need to produce their creations based on the theme. The poetry competition winners are invited to share their work at a celebration in their honour.

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site Basic Information

Entrance FeeFree for all (charge applicable only for guided  tours, and reservations)
Things to doSanburg Residence tour, poetry competition, bark ranger, becoming writer-in-residence, exhibit museum
Official WebsiteVisit Here!
Contact(828) 693-4178
MapsGet it here!

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Fort Raleigh is a historic site and a national park in North Carolina that protects and preserves known portions of England’s first New World settlements from 1584 to 1590. Besides, this historic site also protects the cultural heritage of the African Americans, Native Americans, and European Americans who spent their life on Roanoke Island.

The historical significance of Fort Raleigh has continued throughout the 20th century. It was known as the site of the ‘lost colony’ in the year 1580 and also known as Freedmen’s Colony in the 1860s.

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Fort Raleigh National Park in North Carolina (photo by: Missvain)

You can join ranger programs in the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site as the programs are offered during the spring season (esp. throughout October). Visitors can observe the 1896 monument that shows the initiation of on-site preservation efforts. The stone monument commemorates the birth of Virginia Dare who was the first English child born in North America. The stone marker also depicts the baptism of the Croatoan native Manteo by the English.

Visitors can also explore earthwork with archaeological evidence and metallurgical activity that was carried out in the 1580s. You can see antimony ore, furnace bricks, charcoal, nuggets discovered on the site.

The First Light of Freedom is another monument that commemorates the Roanoke Island Freedman’s Colony built during the American Civil War.

There are two hiking trails available at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and they are the freedom trail and Thomas Hariot Trail. Visitors can enjoy the maritime forest along the 1.25-mile Freedom trail, and also explore the views of the Croatan Sound on the western edge of the park. The Thomas Hariot Trail is a 0.3-mile loop through the island’s maritime forest and ending to the sandy shores of Albemarle Sound.

Another event you can enjoy is the waterside theatre in which you can observe the home of The Lost Colony. It is an outdoor symphonic drama performed by the Roanoke Island Historical Association. This performance is known as the country’s first and longest-running outdoor symphonic drama. Furthermore, you can also enjoy fishing at the National Historic site.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site Basic Information

Entrance FeeFree for all 
Things to doExhibition, Enjoy Theatre Performance, Fishing, Hiking
Official WebsiteVisit Here!
Contact(252) 473-2111
MapsGet it here!

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

The Guilford Courthouse National Military Park is located in Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina. The park commemorates the Battle of Guilford Court House that happened on 15th March 1781. The battlefield is preserved as a National Military Park and operated under the supervision of the National Park Service (NPS).

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Guilford National Park in North Carolina (photo by: MarmadukePercy)

The National Military Park allows special events like Photography, Weddings, Ham Radio operations, exercising First Amendment rights, and other events. To conduct these events, a special permit is required for which you must request the park authority with a special use permit application.

Students from high school, middle school, elementary school, special interest groups can visit the national military park conducted via tour reservations and field trip planning.

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park Basic Information

Entrance FeeFree for all 
Things to doEducational Tour, Photography, Wedding, Ham Radio Operation
Official WebsiteVisit Here!
Contact(336) 288-1776 x232
MapsGet it here!

Moores Creek National Battlefield

The Moores Creek National Battlefield is a national park in North Carolina operated by the National Park Service (NPS). This battlefield commemorates the first significant victory of the Patriots in the American Revolution.

The national site features a park store operated by America’s National Parks which is an official non-profit partner of the NPS. The park store features various books, educational games, media, and other goods for retail sale.

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Moores Creek National Park in North Carolina (photo by: Ser Amantio di Nicolao)

The National Battlefield allows field trips, education tours, guided tours, musket demonstrations, and much more for the students.

Moores Creek National Battlefield Basic Information

Entrance FeeFree for all 
Things to doEducational Tour, Exhibition, Park Store, Guided Tours, Field Trips
Official WebsiteVisit Here!
Contact(910) 283-5591 x2223
MapsGet it here!

Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright were the Wright Brothers who achieved the first successful aircraft flights on 17th December 1903. The achievement became a life-changing moment for every people today. The engineering, teamwork, and scientific process of the Wright brothers made it possible for a huge aeroplane to fly high in the sky today.

The Wright Brothers National Memorial is established as a national park in North Carolina to respect the works of two brothers.

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Wright Brothers National Park in North Carolina

You can visit the spot where Wilbur and Orville took the flight first and also the locations where they landed. Also, you can observe reconstructed 1903 Camp Buildings where the brothers spent their experimental time.

There is a Wright Brothers Monument established to commemorate the world-changing achievement. Likewise, you will also find the 1903 Sculpture with the artistic representation of the moment of the Wright Brother’s first flight.

Furthermore, you can learn more about the park and the Wright Brother’s history by visiting the Wright Brothers Visitor Center.

Wright Brothers National Memorial Basic Information

Entrance FeeAdult (16 and older) – $10Children (15 and younger) – FreeWith Federal Recreational Lands Passes – FreeWith Every Kid Outdoors Pass (4th-grader & Family) – Free
Things to doEducational Tour, Exhibition, Wright Brother’s first flight and landing zone visit
Official WebsiteVisit Here!
Contact(252) 473-2111
MapsGet it here!

How many national parks are in North Carolina?

North Carolina boasts a total of 13 National Park Service areas, with just one designated as a conventional national park. The remaining sites encompass national seashores, historic sites, and scenic trails, collectively contributing to the diverse range of natural, historical, and cultural experiences available in the state.

What is the largest national park in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, there is just one traditional national park managed by the National Park Service (NPS): Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Stretching across the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, this expansive park covers over 522,419 acres, earning the distinction of being the largest national park east of the Mississippi River.

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Suman Karki
Suman Karki is the founder of the AviaTech Channel blog and YouTube Channel. He is a passionate aviation enthusiast and holds experience working as a Ground Operations Officer for Swissport International. He is currently serving as a Flight Data Feeder for FlightAware (a US-based company for Flight Tracking). Besides, he has worked as an aviation content editor for various aviation media.


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