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Camping at Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout National Seashore
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Cape Lookout National Seashore, located in the Southern Outer Banks on the coast of North Carolina, offers a unique camping experience amidst stunning beaches, shifting dunes, and maritime forests. The park includes a historic lighthouse, wide-ranging wildlife habitats, and an escape from the trappings of modern life.

Camping Options

Cape Lookout National Seashore offers several different camping options:

  • Primitive Camping: Campers can set up anywhere on the 56 miles of beach or in the grassy areas behind the dunes throughout the North and South Core Banks. There are no designated campsites, and it is first-come, first-served.
  • Cabin Rentals: At Long Point and Great Island, there are rustic cabins that can be rented. These cabins have minimal amenities and require bringing your supplies.

Permits and Fees

  • No fees or permits are usually required for beach camping. However, always check the most current information, as this can change.
  • Cabin rentals require reservations and are subject to rental fees.

Camping Regulations

  • Campfires: Permitted below the high-tide line and must be at least 50 feet from any vegetation. All fires must be extinguished before leaving.
  • Pets: Allowed but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
  • Trash: There are no trash collection services. Campers must pack out all trash.
  • Driving: Off-road vehicles (ORVs) are allowed with a proper permit but must follow specific rules to protect wildlife and vegetation.
  • Wildlife: Do not disturb wildlife, including wild horses. It is illegal to feed or approach them closely.

Amenities and Facilities

  • Limited facilities; no potable water or electricity is available at the campsites.
  • Restroom facilities are available at the visitor centers and some locations on the islands, but there are no showers.
  • Portable toilets may be available at some sites depending on the time of year.

Safety Tips

  • Weather can change rapidly; be prepared with adequate shelter and clothing.
  • Insect repellent is essential, especially during the warmer months.
  • Watch for signs of rip currents when swimming; the seashore does not have lifeguards.
  • Be aware of high tide when setting up camp to avoid being flooded out.

Access to the Seashore

  • The islands are accessible only by ferry, private boat, or by plane. There is no bridge access.
  • Ferry services are available from several mainland locations. Verify the schedule and fees before planning your trip.

Reservations and Planning

  • It's a good idea to make reservations for the ferry and cabins well in advance, especially during the peak summer months.
  • Check the National Park Service's official website for Cape Lookout National Seashore to get the most current information and alerts.


Camping at Cape Lookout National Seashore can be a rewarding experience for those looking for isolation, natural beauty, and a bit of adventure. By following the rules and guidelines set by the National Park Service, campers can ensure that the seashore remains pristine for future visitors and that their trip is both enjoyable and safe.

Map of Campgrounds in Cape Lookout National Seashore
Campgrounds in Cape Lookout National Seashore
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