Camping at Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
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Cape Hatteras National Seashore, located in North Carolina, is a unique area protected for its stunning natural beauty and recreational opportunities. It's a popular destination for camping, fishing, surfing, bird watching, and other outdoor activities. The seashore is part of the Outer Banks and includes three islands: Bodie, Hatteras, and Ocracoke.

Camping Options

There are four campgrounds within Cape Hatteras National Seashore:

  1. Oregon Inlet Campground - Close to Nags Head and offers easy access to beaches.
  2. Cape Point Campground - Near Buxton and best known for surf fishing.
  3. Frisco Campground - Offers some elevation with rolling dunes and sea views.
  4. Ocracoke Campground - Accessible by ferry and is the most remote option.

Each campground has different features and amenities but generally provides potable water, cold showers, and grills. They may vary in terms of their access to beachfront and whether they have RV hookups, so it's important to check the specifics before you go.

Reservations and Permits

Reservations: Some campgrounds, or portions of them, offer first-come, first-served camping during certain times of the year, but reservations are recommended, especially during peak season. Reservations can be made online at or by phone.

Permits: For backcountry camping, which is permitted in certain areas, a permit is required and can be obtained at visitor centers.

Rules and Regulations

Fires: Beach fires are allowed below the high-tide line in certain areas, except when fire bans are in effect.

Pets: Pets are allowed but must be on a leash not exceeding 6 feet in length.

Vehicles: Off-road vehicle (ORV) use is permitted in designated areas, but an ORV permit is required.

Wildlife: As Cape Hatteras is a protected area, disturbing wildlife, including sea turtles and their nests, is illegal.

Safety Considerations

  • Weather: Be prepared for changing conditions and check forecasts regularly.
  • Water Safety: Rip currents can be strong; always be cautious when swimming.
  • Wildlife: Do not feed or approach wildlife, and store food securely to avoid attracting animals.


In addition to camping, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities such as:

  • Watersports: The area is great for surfing, kiteboarding, and windsurfing.
  • Fishing: Recognized as one of the best fishing spots on the East Coast.
  • Bird Watching: The seashore is a critical habitat for many bird species.
  • Lighthouses: Visit historic lighthouses like the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.


Parts of Cape Hatteras National Seashore are accessible to those with mobility challenges. Check the National Park Service (NPS) website or call ahead for specific information about wheelchair access, beach wheelchairs, and other amenities.

Contact Information and Planning

When planning your trip, contact the National Park Service or visit their website for the most current information regarding campground status, weather alerts, or any restrictions that might be in place. This will help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Map of Campgrounds in Cape Hatteras National Seashore
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