Camping On The Blue Ridge Parkway
On average, the Parkway’s nine campgrounds offer a chance to set up a tent or park your RV every 43 miles. The 712 tent sites and 337 RV sites range from “lowish” elevations (800 feet at Otter Creek in Virginia), to cool and lofty (five are between 3000 and 4000 feet), to downright way up there (at 5000 feet, Mount Pisgah is just shy of a mile high).
Camping is one of the great national park adventures and it's a not-to-be-missed part of a Blue Ridge Parkway vacation. Parkway campgrounds have no electrical hook-ups for RVs—but they’re otherwise comfortable and provide water, restrooms, firewood for sale, and trailer dumping stations. Each site has a fireplace and picnic table. Most campgrounds offer interpretive talks by rangers at campground amphitheaters and a camp store is available at Peaks of Otter, Doughton Park, Crabtree Meadows, and Mount Pisgah. Seven offer picnic areas, four have visitor centers. Each campground has a handicapped accessible site.
All sites are available on a first come, first served basis—except at Doughton Park, Julian Price, Linville Falls, and Mount Pisgah, where you can reserve a site in advance on the Internet or by phone: 877-444 6777. Reserved sites are $19 versus the $16 usually charged (2011 rates).
Fires are permitted only in designated fireplaces at campgrounds and picnic areas using firewood purchased from the campstore, dead and down wood gathered within 100 yards of campgrounds and picnic areas, or your own charcoal. Regulations ban bringing your own firewood from some states—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey and New York—to limit the possibility of insect infestations. Gas stoves and grills are permitted.
Miscellaneous campground strictures include the prohibition of all skateboards, roller skates, and other “coasting devices,” the removal of tow vehicle side mirrors when not towing, restriction of campsites to six people in one family or group, and maintaining quiet times between 10 pm and 6 am. See the Parkway Web site for more specifics.
Backcountry Camping: There is no backpacking on the Blue Ridge Parkway itself—except at two formal backcountry campgrounds (Rocky Knob, VA; 540-745-9661/ Doughton Park, NC; 336-372-8568) and a single hike-in site at Julian Price Park, NC; 828-963-5911). All backcountry sites require a permit, available at the auto-access campground. See the Hiking section for more.
Parkway Campgrounds, from north to south—
Otter Creek Campground (Milepost 60.8)
If you’re cold natured, camping at the Parkway’s lowest elevation campground—777 feet—may be for you. Otter Creek has 42 tent and 26 trailer sites, and a nearby restaurant.
Peaks of Otter Campground (Milepost 85.9)
Tucked onto the slopes of Sharp Top, this campground has 90 tent and 53 trailer sites and a camp store at 2,875 feet. Peaks of Otter Lodge and restaurant aren’t far away.
Roanoke Mountain Campground (Milepost 120.4)
Located on the Mill Mountain Spur Road, Roanoke Mountain’s 74 tent sites and 31 trailer sites include some designed for barrier free accessibility. There’s a 200-person capacity campfire circle and absurdly easy access to downtown Roanoke for dining and fun. This Parkway campground is woodsy—but you can be in the city in 10 minutes.
Rocky Knob Campground (Milepost 169)
With 81 tent sites and 28 trailer sites, this campground also features a 150-person capacity campfire circle.
Doughton Park Campground (Milepost 239.2)
There are 110 campsites west of the Parkway, 25 trailer sites to the east, restrooms, a 250-person capacity campfire circle, and camp store. Nearby is Bluffs Lodge and Doughton Park’s restaurant.
Price Park Campground (Milepost 296.9)
The Parkway’s largest campground offers 129 tent sites, some directly on the shore of Price Lake. This is a perfect “golden pond” camping experience if you can get a shoreline site. There are also 68 RV sites and an amphitheater.
Linville Falls Campground (Milepost 316.4)
This is the Parkway’s only campground that offers group camping. There are 55 tent and small R/V sites; 15 large R/V sites, and a 150-person capacity campfire circle.
Crabtree Meadows Campground (Milepost 339.5)
This campground’s 71 tent and small RV sites and 22 large RV sites are not far from the Crabtree Meadows Snack Bar and camp store. There’s also a 300-person capacity amphitheater.
Mount Mitchell (Milepost 355.3)
Mount Mitchell, the East's highest peak, is not on the Parkway but it's auto-accessible tent campground is only reachable from the Parkway. Mount Mitchell State Park has the East's loftiest campground at 6,400 feet—so bring warm clothes!
Mount Pisgah Campground (Milepost 408.8)
Nearly a mile high, Mount Pisgah’s 70 tent sites and 70 trailer sites offer the coolest summer campsites on the Parkway. This is the only Parkway campground with showers (inquire at check-in for that loop). There’s a 100-person capacity amphitheater, camp store, plus the Mount Pisgah Inn and restaurant just across the road.