The Outer Banks, a 200-mile-long string of barrier islands along the North Carolina coast, are a beach-driving paradise, and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, covering some 70 miles of it, is a great place to park your RV for an amazing vacation. Where exactly you choose to do so will depend on your budget and your choice of camping style.
Currently there is no admission fee to the National Seashore if you just wish to walk the beaches, swim, picnic, and play water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, and kiteboarding. There are, however, fees for driving on the beach (these are included in most 4x4 vehicle rentals). And if you want to fish from the shore, you’ll also need to purchase a surf fishing license. Pets are allowed at the campgrounds and on the beach but must be kept on a six-foot lead. Open campfires aren’t permitted in the campgrounds, but you may build a fire on the beach below the high water line.
The small towns in which these campgrounds are located, meanwhile, have shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as entertainment venues and even a museum or two.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore Camping and RV Parks
Camping is only allowed in designated campgrounds, of which there are four. There are no hookups, and the restrooms and showers are cold-water only. Most of the campgrounds open at the beginning of April and close in mid-October. And none accept reservations except for Oracoke Island. Here are the four you have to choose from.
Cape Point Campground is located in the town of Buxton (pop. 1,200), just a few miles from the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It’s also popular with fishermen, as the nearby beach access allows entry to Diamond Shoals, a hugely popular fishing spot, during some times of the year. Driving on the beach here is prohibited during the nesting season of the piping plover (usually mid-April through June). 46700 Lighthouse Road.
Frisco Campground, the largest of the National Seashore campgrounds, is in the Hatteras Island town of town of Frisco (whose population is barely 1,000 but swells during summer-rental season). Campsites are spread out among dunes covered with sea oats and grasses – some including a few low trees – and most are quite spacious. There are wooden walkways from the campground to the beach with a small parking area by the walkway if you don't want to walk all the way from your campsite. Most people camped here will drive onto the beach. 53415 Billy Mitchell Rd.
Ocracoke Island Campground on Oracoke Island (pop. 800) can only be reached by a 40-minute ferry ride (ferries are frequent in season, and free of charge). If you’re traveling from the north, you just get in line for the ferry in Hatteras. 4352 Irvin Garrish Highway.
Oregon Inlet Campground in Nags Head (pop. 3,200) on Bodie Island is near the Bonner Bridge, across the highway from the Oregon Inlet Marina. It’s a very popular choice for fishermen and families who access the beach with their 4WD vehicles or charter fishing boats at the marina. The campground is flat and open with a few sand paths over the low dunes to the beach, but the ocean isn’t visible from here due to dunes. Point of interest: nearby Jockey’s Ridge State Park is home to the East Coast’s largest sand dune, and also popular for hang gliding. Highway 12.
Get more information on these and other camping venues at OBXRV.com.