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Big Tent Revival: Camping Makes a Comeback

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Camping is experiencing a surge in popularity. People of all ages seek a simpler way to enjoy life in the great outdoors. Happily, there are some stunningly unique camping locations found throughout the Carolinas. These spots offer both a place to spend the night and plenty of fun activities to enjoy.

North Carolina

Asheville Glamping

Love being outdoors but still crave some modern-day conveniences? Asheville Glamping is a good bet. This eclectic collection of unique lodging choices effortlessly blends exploring nature with a little basic pampering (plus great spots for Instagram photos). Beds, bathrooms, heat, AC and even hot tubs are available in some of the accommodations, which include a safari tent and restored vintage trailers. Among the most unique choices are the space-age looking domes, one of which features a 9-foot slide to get from your bed to the lower level.

Cape Lookout National Seashore

If you’ve dreamed about hearing ocean waves crash as you wake up with the sunrise, beach camping is for you. Cape Lookout National Seashore boasts 56 miles of undeveloped beach spread across barrier islands that offer swimming, birding, fishing, shelling and stargazing. Or you might choose to climb the lighthouse, search for wild horses or take a guided tour of Portsmouth Village. Camping here does take some advanced planning. Whether you choose to pitch a tent or rent a rustic, wooden cabin on the beach, be sure to come prepared with everything you’ll need.

Linville Gorge

The rugged rock formations of Linville Gorge towering above the Linville River below create a distinctive destination that’s earned the nickname “Grand Canyon of North Carolina.” Pitching your tent in the middle of this wilderness provides easy forest hikes and access to Linville Falls, a 45-foot waterfall. A variety of tent or RV camping options are available in this popular spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway, from private campgrounds to campsites available through Recreation.Gov.

South Carolina

Devils Fork State Park

The clear waters of Lake Jocassee make it a perfect spot for swimming, scuba diving and fishing. Devils Fork State Park offers the only public access point to the 7,565-acre lake, which is fed by mountain streams, as well as several waterfalls that are only accessible by boat. Explore the area easily with rental pontoon boats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboards available on site. Campgrounds offer tent camping and RV camping. There’s also boat-in camping for those seeking secluded primitive tent camping.

Jones Gap State Park

For a true adventure, there’s nothing quite like trailside camping. After a day of hiking, set up your campsite along the trail, surrounded by wilderness, before leaving the next day to continue your journey. Backcountry camping is available at Jones Gap State Park, which is known for excellent trout fishing in the Middle Saluda River, as well as five waterfalls and eight hiking trails.

Hunting Island State Park

The most visited state park in South Carolina with five miles of beach combines coastal fun with education. Learn about the area’s varied wildlife, including nesting loggerhead turtles, hundreds of species of birds along with alligators. You’ll also find the only publicly accessible lighthouse in the state, with views of the barrier island. Nature trails, a biking trail and fishing rods and reels available through the Tackle Loaner Program make exploring this destination a delight. More than 100 campsites are available for RV camping and tent camping.

There’s More!

For camping tips and recipes, read “Into the Woods” at AAA.com/EditorsEscape

(Go Magazine May/June 2020)

photo: Asheville Glamping

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