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Camping at Elk Knob State Park

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Overview of Elk Knob State Park

Elk Knob State Park is located in the North Carolina high country and is one of the newest additions to the state park system. It protects the second-highest peak in Watauga County and offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including camping, hiking, and picnicking.

Camping Information

Facilities: Elk Knob State Park does not currently offer traditional developed campgrounds with multiple sites. However, it has introduced a few backcountry campsites that require hikers to backpack in.

Backcountry Camping:

  • Permits: Campers must obtain a permit from the park office before setting up at any backcountry site.
  • Number of Sites: There are usually a small number of backcountry sites to choose from. Ensure to check the current availability and any restrictions that might apply.
  • Location & Access: The backcountry sites are accessed via a hike, so campers need to be prepared to carry all their gear to the site.
  • Amenities: These sites are primitive, providing a tent pad and a fire ring, but no immediate access to water or restrooms.

Hiking and Activities


  • Elk Knob Summit Trail is a popular choice, which is a challenging 1.9-mile climb leading to the summit of Elk Knob and offering panoramic views.
  • Backcountry trails usually lead to the campsites and intersect with other trails in the park.

Nature & Education: The park offers interpretive programs that educate visitors about the park's ecology, wildlife, and conservation efforts.

Seasonal Activities:

  • In winter, the park often has enough snow for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
  • In other seasons, visitors can enjoy wildlife observation, bird watching, and the beautiful display of wildflowers.

Reservations and Permits

Backcountry Camping Reservations:

  • It is important to reserve your backcountry campsite in advance, especially during peak seasons. Check the North Carolina State Parks website or contact the park directly for information on how to reserve a spot.


  • A camping permit is required and can be obtained from the park office or a self-service kiosk if the office is closed.

Safety and Regulations


  • Visitors should be aware of local wildlife and take precautions not to attract bears or other animals to camp sites.
  • Store food and scented items properly.


  • Because of the high elevation, weather conditions can change rapidly. Campers should be prepared for cold and variable weather.

Leave No Trace:

  • All campers and hikers are expected to follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize their impact on the natural environment.
  • Pack out all trash and leftover food, and leave the campsites as you found them.


  • Fires are generally allowed in designated fire rings, but always check for current fire restrictions.

Access and Directions

Location: Elk Knob State Park is located in Watauga County, off of Meat Camp Road in Todd, NC.

Getting There: The main access is via the park road off of Meat Camp Road. Directional signs and maps are advisable to reach the park since rural mountain roads can be confusing for newcomers.

Before heading out for a camping trip to Elk Knob State Park, always check the most recent updates from the North Carolina State Parks website or contact the park directly for the latest information regarding camping regulations, trail conditions, and any alerts or closures that may impact your visit.

Map of Campgrounds in Elk Knob State Park
Campgrounds in Elk Knob State Park
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