Four Favorite North Carolina Parks and Recreation Areas


14,000,000+ Visits to North Carolina state parks and recreation areas

Jordan Lake

Imagine relaxing in a cove, listening to the sounds of water rippling. Then, you feel a firm tug on your fishing line. It’s going to be a big one! Picture the surface of the lake glistening, water spraying your face, the boat motor roaring. Suddenly, your skis give way—a splash landing! Hear the laughter of children, smell burgers roasting over a charcoal fire, feel a breeze blowing through the campground. With almost 14,000 acres of water, all this and more is yours to discover at Jordan Lake. The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation operates nine recreation areas on the lake—Crosswinds Campground, Ebenezer Church, Parker’s Creek, Poplar Point, Seaforth, Vista Point, Robeson Creek, New Hope Overlook, and White Oak Recreation Area. Whether you’re looking for fun in the sun or an evening under the stars, Jordan Lake offers it all.

Address: 280 State Park Road, Apex, NC 27523
GPS coordinates: 35.7369, -79.0169
Office Phone: (919) 362-0586
Make a reservation at or 877-722-6762

Pilot Mountain

Approach from any direction and see Pilot Mountain rising more than 1,400 feet above the rolling countryside of the upper Piedmont plateau. Dedicated as a National Natural Landmark in 1976, this solitary peak is the centerpiece of Pilot Mountain State Park.

Fun, from relaxation to exhilaration, is easy to find here. Treat yourself to a horseback ride through the woods or challenge the river from raft or canoe. A seven-mile woodland corridor joins two sections of the park, each section offering a wealth of opportunities for outdoor fun. The mountain segment, which includes the two pinnacles, contains most of the visitor facilities. The more primitive river section centers around the lazy, meandering Yadkin River.

Camping reservations may now be made up to 24 hours before arrival. Advance reservations are strongly recommended to ensure you have a campsite for a full weekend.
1792 Pilot Knob Park Road, Pinnacle, NC 27043
GPS coordinates: 36.342056, -80.463347
Office Phone: (336) 325-2355
Make a reservation at or 877-722-6762

Hammocks Beach

Venture to Bear Island and reward yourself with vivid memories of one of the most unspoiled beaches on the Atlantic coast. Accessible only by passenger ferry or private boat, there’s just one thing at Hammocks Beach that’s crowded—the list of things to do.

SEE MORE: North Carolina Outdoors (VIDEO)

Stroll the beach with laughing gulls and sandpipers. Cast a baited hook into endless rows of foaming breakers. Discover tiny specimens of marine life in tidal pools and mudflats. Use a camera or paintbrush to capture the green and gold grasses that color the salt marshes. Spend the night among the sand dunes, or simply bask in the sun and do nothing at all.

Secluded and tranquil, free from intruding commercialism, Hammocks Beach may not be for everyone, but the island is a retreat for people who welcome the challenges of relentless sun, sand, sea and sky.


Ferry Service running daily Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Lifeguards on duty and concession stand open.
1572 Hammocks Beach Road, Swansboro, NC 28584
GPS coordinates: 34.6710, -77.1429
Office Phone: (910) 326-4881
Make a reservation at or 877-722-6762

Mount Mitchell

By the Numbers:

Year that North Carolina’s first state park was established at Mount Mitchell to protect the summit of the highest mountain  in the eastern U.S.
Number of state parks in 2011
Number of acres (land only)

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