Good car-camping spots in W. North Carolina or E. Kentucky?
April 7, 2012 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend good car-camping spots in western North Carolina or eastern Kentucky for next weekend?

My four-year-old daughter and I will visit my mother in the Raleigh-Durham area next week. We're planning to see friends in Asheville, then probably head into the mountains for a night or two of camping. Both daughter and mother are fairly adventurous, but long hikes aren't in the cards. Where should we go?
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu to Travel & Transportation around Winston-Salem, NC (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to say Cumberland Gap National Park, but it looks like some (maybe all) of the camping is down for renovations for about another month. Maybe look at Daniel Boone National Forest?
posted by deezil at 9:04 AM on April 7, 2012

Do you mean you drive to a campground and pitch a tent, or are you talking about driving an RV/camper in?

If it's the first, and if Cumberland Gap isn't an option, you might try Kingdom Come State Park over in Harlan County. Note that I have been to the park but haven't camped there.
posted by dilettante at 9:41 AM on April 7, 2012

Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park sounds like a great option.

I traveled there about a year ago and it's secluded without being too secluded. There are limited camp sites, so might want to reserve a spot. I parked my car at my camp site and set up a tent. Was a very quiet night and beautiful.

The elk are amazing and the valley is breathtaking. Dotting the valley are interesting historical homes and other sights. Great easy hikes as well as some moderate.

The town nearby, Maggie Valley, is also fascinating. Some describe it as a "time warp" since it's full of roadside motels from the 1950s.
posted by Cwell at 10:42 AM on April 7, 2012

Response by poster: Do you mean you drive to a campground and pitch a tent, or are you talking about driving an RV/camper in?

Yes, I'm talking about driving a car in and pitching a tent nearby. Thanks for the answers so far!
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 11:08 AM on April 7, 2012

I'm a bit confused about the geography here, because Asheville isn't particularly close to KY. That said, one of my fav places is Carter Caves State Park just outside of Olive Hill, KY. Great campground, beautiful area, just off I-64 in eastern ky.
posted by griffey at 12:17 PM on April 7, 2012

If you've never driven in Eastern Kentucky, I want to point out that that particular part of the state is not well-served by interstates. So, NC and KY might be geographically close, but you will definitely want to add in time if you want to drive all the way to KY. Then when you cross into in KY, it will be slow-going. If you plan on using the interstate, which would be 40 to Knoxville, followed by 75 into Kentucky, you are talking about a 3 to 4 hour trip.
posted by dirtmonster at 2:13 PM on April 7, 2012

Best answer: The campground in Hot Springs, NC is one of my favorites. There is car-camping, primitive cabins or actual rooms at the spa across the road where they have, you know, actual hot springs. The Appalachian Trail runs through the town of Hot Springs, so there are a few good outfitter stores and restaurants serving delicious hiker-friendly food and pleasant beverages within walking distance of the campground.

The campground is situated on the French Broad river, but do be aware that there is a train track immediately adjacent to the other side of the campground. Late night freight trains aren't frequent but they are loud.
posted by workerant at 2:36 PM on April 7, 2012

Best answer: Pisgah National Forest is very close to Asheville and has a lot of primitive campsites - I usually favor the ones around Daniel Ridge. That's not camping directly next to your car, though - it's about a quarter to a half mile in. If you want specific directions, memail me. You might also want to check out Hot Springs, which has a really sweet campground right downtown by the river and another nice one up the mountain a bit near Max Patch - unfortunately I can't find any info on that one; I stayed there years ago.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:38 PM on April 7, 2012

dirtmonster, 25E is a pretty good road from Corbin down into Tennessee. Not quite an Interstate, but decent.
posted by dilettante at 5:50 PM on April 7, 2012

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