The 5 Best Campgrounds Near Etowah, North Carolina – Find Your Ideal Outdoor Retreat

Nestled in the heart of North Carolina, Etowah is a gateway to some of the most serene and beautiful campgrounds in the region. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the top five campgrounds near Etowah, each offering its unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and amenities that cater to every type of camper.

From the rugged trails of Pisgah National Forest to the tranquil shores of Lake Powhatan, get ready to embark on an adventure that combines the thrill of the wild with the comforts of home.

1. Pisgah National Forest: A Haven for Hikers and Nature Lovers

Pisgah National Forest, a sprawling expanse of over 500,000 acres, is a mere 30-minute drive from Etowah. Known for its breathtaking mountain scenery and diverse wildlife, it’s a paradise for those seeking an immersive nature experience.

The forest offers a variety of camping options, including developed campgrounds with amenities like restrooms and picnic areas, and more secluded backcountry sites for the adventurous. Davidson River Campground, in particular, is a favorite among families for its easy access to hiking trails and fishing spots.

Hiking enthusiasts will find a network of trails ranging from easy walks to challenging treks. The iconic Looking Glass Rock and Sliding Rock are must-visits for breathtaking views and a natural water slide experience.

Additionally, the forest is home to hundreds of miles of streams, making it a prime location for trout fishing.

2. Lake Powhatan Recreation Area: A Blend of Serenity and Recreation

Just 40 minutes from Etowah, Lake Powhatan Recreation Area offers a tranquil retreat with its picturesque lake and forested surroundings. It’s easily accessible by car, making it a convenient option for both day trips and longer stays.

The area boasts well-maintained campsites suitable for tents and RVs, complete with modern facilities like hot showers and electric hookups. The lakeside sites are particularly popular for their stunning views and proximity to the water.

Lake Powhatan is ideal for swimming, fishing, and canoeing. The gentle waters and sandy beach make it a family-friendly destination.

For those who prefer land-based activities, there are several hiking and biking trails, including the famous Bent Creek Trail System.

3. North Mills River Campground: A Hidden Gem for Relaxation and Adventure

Tucked away in a picturesque valley, North Mills River Campground is about a 35-minute drive from Etowah. This lesser-known spot is perfect for campers looking for a quieter, more secluded setting.

The campground offers spacious sites for tents and RVs, with the river providing a soothing backdrop. While the amenities are more rustic, the natural beauty and tranquility more than makeup for it.

The North Mills River runs through the campground, offering excellent opportunities for fly fishing and tubing. The surrounding forest is crisscrossed with trails suitable for hiking and mountain biking, with routes varying in difficulty to suit all skill levels.

4. Davidson River Campground: A Family-Friendly Retreat with Endless Activities

Davidson River Campground, located within the Pisgah National Forest and only a 30-minute drive from Etowah, is renowned for its accessibility and family-friendly atmosphere. This campground is a hub for campers looking to explore the beauty of the forest while enjoying comfortable amenities.

The campground offers a range of sites suitable for both tents and RVs, with many sites located along the river. Amenities include flush toilets, potable water, and a camp store stocked with essentials. The well-maintained sites and facilities make it an ideal choice for families and first-time campers.

Davidson River Campground is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The river itself is perfect for fishing, tubing, and swimming. Nearby, the Art Loeb and Estatoe Trails offer excellent hiking and biking opportunities.

The campground also hosts various ranger-led programs, making it a great educational experience for children.

5. Harmon Den Horse Camp: A Unique Camping Experience for Equestrian Enthusiasts

Harmon Den Horse Campground, NC

About an hour’s drive from Etowah, Harmon Den Horse Camp is nestled in a remote and picturesque area of the Pisgah National Forest. This unique campground is designed specifically for those who wish to explore the wilderness on horseback.

The campground provides spacious sites equipped with horse stalls, making it a perfect choice for equestrian campers. While the amenities are basic, including vault toilets and no water hookups, the experience of camping with your horse in such a serene environment is unparalleled.

Harmon Den Horse Camp offers direct access to an extensive network of horse trails that wind through the forest and over the mountains. The trails vary in difficulty, providing options for both novice and experienced riders.

Even non-riders can enjoy the scenic beauty and tranquility of this unique location.

Camping Tips for an Unforgettable Experience

Camping is a great way to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors. It’s also a relatively inexpensive activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

However, there are a few things you need to know to ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience.

Preparation is Key

  • Always check the weather forecast and prepare accordingly. Mountain weather can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to pack for all conditions.
  • Familiarize yourself with the campground rules and regulations, especially regarding fire safety and wildlife.

Respect the Environment

  • Practice Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the natural environment.
  • Be mindful of wildlife. Store food securely and maintain a safe distance from animals.

Safety First

  • Ensure you have a first aid kit and know the basics of outdoor safety.
  • If you’re venturing into the wilderness, let someone know your plans and expected return time.

Exploring Beyond

While the campgrounds themselves offer a plethora of activities, the region around Etowah, North Carolina, is rich with additional attractions and adventures. Here are some tips and suggestions to enhance your camping experience:

Farmers Markets and Local Cuisine

  • Don’t miss the opportunity to visit local farmers’ markets. These markets offer fresh, locally sourced produce and artisanal products, providing a taste of the region’s culinary delights.
  • Explore the local eateries in Etowah and surrounding towns. From cozy cafes to family-run restaurants, you’ll find a variety of options showcasing Southern hospitality and cuisine.

Cultural and Historical Sites

  • The area is steeped in history and culture. Visit local museums and historical sites to learn about the region’s rich heritage.
  • Check out the local event calendar. Festivals, concerts, and community events are great ways to immerse yourself in the local culture and meet residents.

Outdoor Adventures Beyond the Campgrounds


While the campgrounds themselves offer a plethora of activities, the region around Etowah, North Carolina, is rich with additional attractions and adventures. Whether you’re seeking breathtaking scenery, cultural experiences, or thrilling water sports, you’re sure to find something to your liking beyond the campground borders.

Scenic Drives and Day Trips

  • Take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Known for its stunning views and numerous hiking trails, it’s a must-visit for nature lovers.
  • Consider day trips to nearby towns like Asheville or Hendersonville, both known for their vibrant arts scenes and historic architecture.

Water Activities

  • Beyond the campgrounds, the region offers numerous opportunities for water sports. Kayaking and white-water rafting on the French Broad River are popular activities for adventure seekers.
  • For a more relaxed experience, visit one of the many lakes in the area for a day of boating or fishing.


What’s the best time to camp?

The best time to camp at the site is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild and pleasant. Summers can be hot and humid, while winters can be cold and snowy.

Which campground is best for horseback riding?

Harmon Den Horse Camp is the best campground for horseback riding, as it is specifically designed for equestrian enthusiasts with spacious sites equipped with horse stalls and direct access to an extensive network of horse trails.

Can I bring my dog camping?

Most campgrounds near Etowah, North Carolina allow dogs, but there are some restrictions. Be sure to check the campground’s website or call ahead to inquire about their pet policies.

Are there any campgrounds that offer glamping accommodations?

Yes, there are a few campgrounds near Etowah, North Carolina that offer glamping accommodations. These accommodations typically include canvas tents, cabins, and yurts equipped with amenities like beds, furniture, and electricity.

Where can I go fishing?

The North Mills River runs through North Mills River Campground, making it a great place to fish for trout. You can also fish in Lake Powhatan, which is just a 40-minute drive from Etowah.

What are some of the best scenic drives near Etowah?

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a must-drive for its stunning views and numerous hiking trails. You can also take a scenic drive along the North Mills River or through Pisgah National Forest.

Final Words

Etowah, North Carolina is a camper’s paradise, with a variety of campgrounds to choose from, each offering its own unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and amenities. Whether you’re looking for a secluded backcountry experience or a family-friendly campground with all the bells and whistles, you’re sure to find the perfect spot in Etowah.

So pack your bags, gather your gear, and get ready for an unforgettable camping adventure in the heart of North Carolina.