Finding the right campsite isn’t always easy. So we’ve created a quiz to match you with the ideal place to sleep under the stars. Whether you prefer a bivy sack in the backcountry or a cushy RV park with running water, we’ve found scenic sites around the Blue Ridge to match your comfort level.
How are you rolling up to the campsite?
- A. I prefer to carry all my gear on my back and venture into the wild on my own two feet.
- B. Spinning the wheels on my car or adventure rig. And by that I mean carefully and respectfully driving on designated roads that do not disrupt wildlife or scratch my ride.
- C. Rolling in style with my RV.
How secluded do you want your site to be?
- A. Other humans? No thank you. I have much to discuss privately with the trees and the birds.
- B. I like a quiet campground but don’t want to be all alone when the trees start making weird noises at night. [WHAT WAS THAT?]
- C. The more people, the more potential friends to make.
What activities are most important for your experience?
- A. Like I said, I have much to discuss with the trees and the birds.
- B. Making s’mores around a campfire.
- C. Hiking! Biking! Paddling! Fishing!
How are you preparing your food?
- A. Over an open flame. I’m not washing this campfire smell out of my shirt for weeks!
- B. Would like a grill for a more controlled burn. [tosses and twirls spatula] Yep, the possibilities are endless when you put one of these bad boys in my hand.
- C. Cooking? I’m on vacation. [puts shades on]
How do you prefer to go… ya know… number one and two?
- A. All I need is a trowel. I make my own bathroom.
- B. A rustic outhouse will do just fine, even one that, you know, has seen some things…
- C. Flushing toilet, please and thank you. If they want to include a nicely lit candle, I will not be mad about it.
Now tally up your answers and read on to find a campsite that’s just right.
If you mostly answered A, here are the best campsites for you:
Rocky Fork State Park, Tenn.
Surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest, a mixture of leafy forests, cool mountain streams, and swimming holes make Rocky Fork an excellent place to spend the night. Three individual backcountry campsites, requiring a 1.4- to 3.2-mile hike over rocky terrain, will give you plenty of space away from any other campers as you fall asleep to the sounds of the forest.
Amenities: Each campsite features a fire ring. Water must be filtered from one of the nearby streams or packed in. When digging a hole for solid human waste, make sure it is six to eight inches deep and at least 200 yards from water and trails.
Activities: Adventure abounds at Rocky Fork. Access the Appalachian Trail for hiking, the Blockstand and Rock Fork creeks for trout fly fishing, and the Whitehouse Cliffs for rock climbing.
Green Ridge State Forest, Md.
In western Maryland, Green Ridge is a deep wooded oasis bordered by the Potomac River, with more than 100 designated primitive campsites that dot the forest. With 49,000 acres, Green Ridge is Maryland’s largest contiguous stretch of public land, so you’ll find plenty of secluded space, and backpack camping is also permitted (registration required) for a more remote experience.
Amenities: Sites only have fire rings and picnic tables. Be prepared to take care of your own water and waste.
Activities: Green Ridge has more than 80 miles of hiking and mountain bike trails, and you can connect the state forest’s trail system to the Buchanan State Forest and the C&O Canal Towpath.
Evan’s Island, N.C.
The French Broad River Paddle Trail winds 150 miles through the mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. The scenic waterway, which mixes open stretches and forested gorges, holds plenty of places to stop along the way, including this private island with enough room for up to 20 paddlers.
Amenities: All your gear must come and go with you. Evan’s Island includes a fire pit, picnic table, and composting privy. Reservations required through the paddle trail’s website (frenchbroadpaddle.com).
Activities: The paddle trail makes it easy to plan trips of varying length. Go for a few hours or link up multiple campsites and paddle for multiple days. The moderate section around Evan’s Island includes some small class II shoals. Other sections include up to class IV rapids, brewery stops, and mountain views, as you float through national forest lands.
Hammersley Wild Area, Pa.
Surrounded by the Susquehannock State Forest, this wild area is a remote escape for those craving secluded peace and quiet. Backpack the 84-mile loop through the vast forest and pitch a tent at one of the designated backcountry sites. On the trails you’ll pass swimming holes, open meadows, and stands of black cherry trees.
Amenities: Water sources are few and far between, so make sure to pack enough and fill up whenever possible. Some of the sites have a fire ring, but otherwise it’s up to you to find a level spot to set up camp.
Activities: With 550 miles of hiking trails, and additional miles for mountain biking in designated spots, there’s plenty to explore. Many of the trails are not well marked so be prepared to do some navigating. This is also a trout hotspot, so bring your fly rod and wet a line in Kettle Creek.
If you mostly answered B, here are the best campsites for you:
Cranberry Adventures, W.Va.
If you want to avoid crowds without carrying all your gear, Cranberry Adventures makes it easy. The outfitter uses mule-drawn trailers to shuttle you and your gear to a campsite in the remote Monongahela National Forest.
Amenities: Pack your own gear—tents, stove, bedding—or book a full package to stay in one of their tents with a wood-burning stove and cots for no additional cost.
Activities: Sleeping beside the Cranberry River, you’ll have easy access to fishing, biking, and hiking in the beautiful Cranberry Wilderness. At nearly 48,000 acres, it’s one of most isolated stretches of wild land in the South, with deep valleys and dense Appalachian hardwood forests.
Camp on the Kentucky, Ky.
Just outside of Lexington, this campground offers a peaceful night of sleep beside the Kentucky River. With 18 primitive campsites and 26 RV sites, it’s a quiet spot among the area’s limestone palisade walls. Anglers can take advantage of the free boat launch and spend a day catching smallmouth and largemouth bass, muskie, and crappie.
Amenities: You’ll be taken care of in camp with full hookups, a dump station, general store, bathhouse, and playground, all located on prime real estate with 2,000 feet of river frontage.
Activities: Head into Versailles or Lexington for a variety of restaurants and antique stores, and it wouldn’t be a visit to the Bluegrass State if you didn’t sip some whiskey at a distillery or two on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Camp Karma, Va.
With 36 sites for tents and small trailers, Camp Karma is a primitive campground near Smith Mountain Lake, a popular Virginia destination with 500 miles of shoreline and stunning Blue Ridge views in the background. Karma’s sites are secluded, set beside the peacefully running waters of Goose Creek. Bring your own gear, or choose to go the glamping route, with the site hosts providing a tent, cots, and utensils. All sites are not far from Smith Mountain Lake’s tourist-friendly amenities: restaurants, wineries, and museums.
Amenities: Karma has outhouses and private bathrooms, and you can stock up on water, ice, and firewood at the camp store.
Activities: Jump in the creek for swimming during the summer heat or venture out nearby to hike the epic Peaks of Otter or ride the singletrack at Falling Creek Park.
If you mostly answered C, here are the best campsites for you:
Hamilton Branch State Park, S.C.
Hamilton Branch State Park has more than 180 waterfront campsites on a peninsula in Lake Thurmond, which, at 70,000 acres, is the second largest lake east of the Mississippi River.
Amenities: The park has nine campgrounds, including some of the most remote, wooded sections of the 700-acre peninsula. Comfort stations include restrooms and hot showers.
Activities: While the views from the campsite are gorgeous, you can see even more of the sights as you walk the park trails looking for bald eagles and osprey, or take a ride on the Steven’s Creek Bike Trail. Other state parks along this stretch of the Savannah River include Baker Creek, Hickory Knob, and Calhoun Falls.
Elk Neck State Park, Md.
Located on a peninsula between the Elk River and Chesapeake Bay, this state park’s varied terrain features a mix of sandy shores and wooded bluffs. Campers can choose from over 250 campsites, many located just off the Elk River or Beaver Marsh for waterfront slumber.
Amenities: Each campsite features a fire ring with grill, picnic table, and access to a central bathhouse with running water.
Activities: The park’s four distinct areas make it easy to access swimming in the Chesapeake Bay and hiking through the Beaver Marsh wetlands, as well as paddling and fishing on the Elk River. You can also take a walk out to the historic Turkey Point Lighthouse for a beautiful sunset over the water.
Talona Ridge RV Resort, Ga.
If you cruise in a full-sized RV or large adventure rig, Talona Ridge is a luxury RV resort not far north of Atlanta that goes big on amenities and features sweeping 360-degree views of the north Georgia mountains.
Amenities: Several pavilions and outdoor seating sites are perfect for watching an early morning sunrise. With onsite laundry, a fitness room, and a heated pool and jacuzzi, it’s a great place to stay for campers who like creature comforts.
Activities: Hike the Appalachian and Pinhoti Trails and ride over 100 miles of singletrack on some of Georgia’s best mountain biking trails around the town of Ellijay. In the summer months, cool off with a hike to one of the many waterfalls nearby or go for a paddle on the nearby Ellijay River.
Cover photo: Settle in for a night in the mountains at Bald Mountain Camping Resort in Georgia. Photo by Kyle Laferriere