Whether you’re an avid camper, an RV camper, or just exploring the possibilities for your first camping experience, North Carolina’s high country in Boone is a great place to visit. Not only is it right along a picturesque spot of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it’s also a quaint college town and home of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
There are a variety of campsites here, from the more rugged wilderness opportunities in your tent to a nice treehouse Air BnB glamping experience. There is also a good selection of RV parks, or at least parks that allow for RV camping.
Regardless of your camping style, you’ll be close by to plenty of outdoor activities, with amazing hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and stunning natural beauty.
The following is a guide to some of the best spots to camp around Boone, where we’ll be sure to consider all of the pros and cons to help you choose the perfect place for your needs!
Julian Price Campground is located in an awesome spot right along the Blue Ridge Parkway between Boone and Blowing Rock. It’s home to one of my favorite hikes anywhere in the area, the Boone Fork Trail, which offers a great mix of forest, waterfalls, small river crossings, and scenic views.
It’s also just down the road from tons of other top hiking spots, including the Moses Cone Memorial Park and Price Lake within 5 minutes. The entire area is simply pristine mountain land, and close proximity to prime hiking is a top consideration for me when camping.
Julian Price has a solid mix of amenities, with tons of picnic tables, open space for family activities, and nearby bathrooms. It also has a dump station, a key factor to your camping experience that makes things that much easier when cleaning up as you leave.
Reservations are required for their best camping spots along the inner loop, which is open for tent camping or pulling in your RV. It costs $20 per night. There are no electric or water hookups, so if you’re camping with your RV keep that in mind.
- Excellent location for nearby hiking
- Well maintained bathrooms
- Dumpster access
A bit of a larger campground compared to some, so slightly commercialized for those wanting a more “off the grid” experience.
If you know anything about camping, you’ll definitely be familiar with KOA. The “Kampgrounds of America” is the largest privately-owned campground business, and have locations across the country. The KOA in Boone is a bit special, since it’s perched at the highest elevation of any location east of the Mississippi river. It’s located a few miles north of Boone, and about a 10-15 minute drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
There are lots of amenities here, and this spot is geared more towards family experiences. That includes long RV parking spots with full hookups, pool, arcade, and even a miniature zoo and mini golf! In addition to the RV sites, there are also tent sites and small cabin rentals, so you’re covered no matter which way you want to stay.
KOA also makes it very easy to reserve a spot, so there are no worries about availability of camp sites when you travel. You’re also allowed to bring a pet, which is not the case for every campground. Prices vary a lot depending on your specific camping style, but it’s easy to visit their website, select your intended travel dates and camping style, and check prices. It does have a camp store in case you forget any necessities.
- Tons of amenities
- Clear reservation system
- Lots of options
- Slightly far location from prime hikes, downtown Boone and Blowing Rock, and Tweetsie Railroad (a must if you’re on a family trip)
- Limited seasonal openness and availability
Honey Bear Campground prides themselves on being a family-friendly campground. They host events throughout the season, ranging from barbecues to fishing. Honey Bear is focused on creating a fun and accessible experience for everyone, so it’s great for first time campers or groups looking for a spot where they feel taken care of.
If you’re traveling with multiple vehicles or grouping together with some friends, you’ll need to reserve separate campsites. Honey Bear also offers cabins and full RV rentals for a more upscale camping experience if that’s something you’re looking for. The campsite offers room for RV’s or tents, but doesn’t have space for extra cars.
All in all, it’s a great spot to visit for a family vacation focused on an appreciation for nature. Primitive camping spots (tent only with a fire pit and picnic table) start at $27 per day or $162 per week, while other options such as RV hookups are $40-$45 a day.
Honey Bear Campground is located just a few miles away from Appalachian State and downtown Boone, so it’s in a great spot to check out local food, shopping, and more.
- Family friendly
- Great centralized location
- Limited seasonal openness and availability
- Not the most rustic/outdoorsy location
Flintlock Family Campground is another family-centered and amenity-focused campground in Boone. It’s nestled next to a nice mountain stream, which gives you a nice sense of nature, despite it being a more glamorous campsite than others.
The site has free wi-fi throughout, hot showers, laundry, and even cable TV – making it easy to bring the whole family and stay entertained throughout a trip. It’s a great spot to visit if you have certain family members joining along who may not be as thrilled about hiking compared to the rest of the group.
As you likely guessed, the site has small cabins and RV full hookup sites, but also has sites for tent camping as well. The site has tons of picnic tables and offers periodic children’s activities to supplement the mountain entertainment.
Prices range from about $30-$60 a night depending on the type of camping you plan to do.
- Beautiful place with awesome scenery
- Centralized location for nature and Boone/Blowing Rock
- No linens provided, even in the cabins
- No way to immediately check for availability
For a more adventurous and traditional style of camping, backpack camping along the trails of Grandfather Mountain can be a great experience. You can set up a tent, set up your hammock, and start a fire, as long as you stay in the designated areas/fire rings.
Not only are the trails at Grandfather Mountain expansive, but you have the chance to experience the true essence of the mountains, climbing your way to the top and earning the amazing views. You could always, of course, simply drive up the mountain and pay to enter the park, but that’s not quite as fun, is it?
Be warned that despite the rugged trails and primitive tent sites, you still need to reserve campsites in advance. There are 13 total sites, so you usually won’t face an issue with availability given most visitors choose not to camp this way.
You can book your spot via North Carolina State Parks’ webpage, or by calling 1-877-722-6762. From the website, you can see all trail locations and availability for your desired dates.
- Authentic, primitive camping
- Direct access to excellent hiking trails
- No camping amenities
- Rugged trails
If you’re looking to “camp” in style, Glamping Unplugged might be more your speed. With the popularity of social media and the internet, more and more visitors are open to glamping to get a taste of what it’s like to camp without really getting down and dirty with the outdoors.
Despite never having experienced this type of camping myself, I have many friends who raved about the experience when their friends or family came to visit them while studying at Appalachian State.
Boone has numerous glamping providers, including plenty of individual glamping sites/treehouses/etc. But I’ve heard from numerous sources that this one is the best.
This place features geodesic domes (think Disney’s EPCOT ball) perched atop a wooden deck, allowing for amazing views of the night sky. The rooms come with different bed options, but can include a King, including all linens and such needed for a (relatively) luxurious experience. The sites each features a fire pit, outdoor seating, hammock, and a private port-a-potty.
Glamping Unplugged claims to be the best “elevated glamping experience,” and definitely backs those claims up.
Overall, if you’re looking to stay in Boone in a comfy spot outside of a traditional hotel room or cabin rental, Glamping Unplugged is the way to go.
If reservations happen to be full on their site, I have also heard great things about Boone Cocoon. So you may want to check them out.
- Picturesque scenery and lodging
- Everything you need is provided
Pretty pricey; price is close to, or more, than you would pay for a hotel
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re looking for a rugged trail camping experience, luxurious spot to get great social media pictures of your adventure, or family-friendly RV camping, Boone is a great spot for camping.
Aside from all of the great locations, Boone, along with nearby Blowing Rock and Banner Elk, are amazing small towns to visit, full of southern charm and hospitality.
On days off from hiking, fishing, and swimming, you can visit the many shops and stores that have all sorts of great finds. Of course, your visit to Boone wouldn’t be complete without a taste of some of the local beer.