Island Campgrounds by Diane Lea

It’s always a pleasant surprise to learn that friends, neighbors and passersby have had previous experience with Hatteras Island and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore − or, as we fondly refer to it, ‘’the edge of America.” Yet sure enough, our recent visitors from Chapel Hill recalled camping here over 30 years ago when they first explored their new home state of North Carolina. Being ardent tent campers, they chose the Cape Point Campground in Buxton that even then offered a grassy meadow in close proximity to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and an easy walk to the ocean over gently sloping dunes.

Today the campground is one of the island’s favorites.  There are 202 camp sites for tents and RVs arranged around four vehicle routes or loops, each with a nearby bathhouse with cold water showers. The setting, tucked between the Inner Dune Road and a thick swath of the Buxton maritime forest, is scenic and peaceful. During the off-season, it is a favorite destination for walkers (with and without dogs), runners and naturalists seeking birding opportunities and a close-up look at the area’s flora and fauna. A trail to the west of the campground leads to a pleasant pond with duck hunting allowed in the winter. Don’t forget your Off-Road Vehicle Permit, as the Cape Point Campground is situated in easy proximity to beach access Ramps 43 and 44.

The second most talked about campground on Hatteras Island is the rugged Frisco Campground, characterized by campsites on elevated dunes, some with ocean views. These campsites are best suited to camper vehicles as there is limited level ground for tent sites, though the bathhouses and other amenities are similar to those found in the Cape Point Campground. Each campsite has a paved parking pad,  a picnic table and a charcoal grill for cooking. Other facilities include boardwalks over the dunes to the beach for ease of access for surfers and fishermen. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse beacon is a nighttime feature.

The Oregon Inlet Campground is the northernmost campground on Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This campground is at the very entrance to Hatteras Island just off Highway NC 12.  It is adjacent to the beach and a short walk through the dunes to the wide Atlantic. A favorite for all that the island has to offer, activities include the same fishing, swimming, surfing, birding, and shell hunting as the other campsites, with the addition of access to the calmer sound waters to the west of the public boat launch at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. Here campers can pursue crabbing, clamming, paddle-boarding, and boating in addition to their other favorite pastimes. Each loop of the Oregon Inlet Campground is near a bathhouse and each site has a paved parking pad, picnic table, and charcoal grill. The historic Bodie Island Lighthouse is approximately four miles north of Oregon Inlet Campground. There, in addition to the lighthouse view, campers can enjoy the day use area for family picnics and birdwatching from the gazebo.

So whether you are a seasoned camper looking for a special spot to pitch a tent or haul up a camper or an RV, Hatteras Island’s campgrounds have something special to offer. And the perfect camping season is just beginning.

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