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VOICES: Ralph Grizzle // Five spots for outdoor camping in and around Asheville, NC

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Photo by Ralph Grizzle

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By Ralph Grizzle, longtime WNC resident, hiker, and writer of My828Life. This is a contributor-submitted Voices piece. Want to join the conversation? We invite you to write for us. Learn how to share your voice here.

Just because Old Man Winter is here, doesn’t mean you need to make like our beloved black bears and go into hibernation. In fact, one of winter’s biggest appeals is that the surrounding mountains are generally quieter and less congested, and it’s not unusual to have whole campgrounds practically to yourself.

Need a little guidance before you take the leap? Here are five campgrounds in the 828 that are open in the winter, all within an hour and a half’s drive time from Asheville proper.


  1. Lake Powhatan Campground

    | 10 minutes | This spot is the gateway to a network of multi-use trails connecting with Bent Creek Experimental Forest and the North Carolina Arboretum which are particularly great for mountain biking, hiking, and running.


  2. Mills River Campground

    | 30 minutes | This secluded campground provides access to miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails. The campground’s namesake, Mills River, which runs through the campground, isn’t the only watering hole here either. Nearby breweries and cideries include Sierra Nevada, Bold Rock Cider, Burning Blush, and Blue Ghost.


  3. Davidson River Campground

    | 55 minutes | Situated in the “Land of the Water Falls,” this beautiful campground is four miles west of the adventure town of Brevard. Once camp is set up, you can cycle the nearby greenway to downtown or head out to the many trails in Pisgah National Forest. Fishing is also great here.


  4. Curtis Creek Campground

    | 40 minutes | Situated in Pisgah National Forest — at the base of the Blue Ridge Parkway, near the town of Old Fort — this small campground sits among a popular trout stream and valleys of old-growth forest.

  5. Smokemont | 80 minutes | This nearby oasis in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers miles of biodiverse, unforgettable hikes right from your site. Plus, you can venture into the nearby town of Cherokee to learn more about the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
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