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Big Cities

Big cities with plenty of action and things to do.

Outdoor Adventure

Bike riding trails, horse trails, ATV trails we have it all

Our Heritage

Visit our heritage sites, there is always something going on.

Natural Wonders

From the sea to the mountains, our natural wonders abound.

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North Carolina Lakes

Bike Trails

Enjoy our bike trails. Catawba Falls Campground is a great home base.

Special Events

3.2% of visitors came for Special events and festivals

Visit NC

Visiting relatives and Family Reunion accounted for 25.5% of visitors.


North Carolina Lakes

Badin Lake

There are 4 developed campgrounds for tents, camping trailers, & RVs with flush toilets and showers & 1 tent only campground within the Badin Lake Recreation Area. For people that want electricity, flush toilets, showers & a dump station there are 2 campgrounds with these amenities. Arrowhead Campground has 48 sites for the public to use with electrical hookups at sites 12-45. These sites have 50 amp, 30 amp & 110 volt outlets. Sites 1-11 & 46-50 do not have power.  Canebrake Horse Camp has 28 sites available to the public. All sites have electrical hookups with 50 amp, 30 amp & 110 volt outlets. This campground has amenities for horse use but is not exclusive to horseback riders. Some of these horse amenities are a horse washing station, hitching posts, tack tables & direct access to the trails.

Badin Lake Campground offers 34 sites for tent, camping trailer or RV camping. There are several campsites on the lakeshore of Badin Lake, which can be accessed via boat, canoe, or kayak.  This campground offers flush toilets, showers & drinking water hydrants. There is no electricity and no dump station at this campground. Badin Lake Group Camp offers 3 sites for up to 50 people each. There are flush toilets, vault toilets, showers & 3 drinking water hydrants. There are no electrical hookups and there is no dump station.  This campground is available by reservation only. To make reservations for any of the above listed campgrounds please call Recreation.Gov at 877-444-6777; TDD: 877-833-6777; International: 518-885-3639; or go to their website: www.recreation.gov.

The last campground in the Badin Lake Recreation Area is called Uwharrie Hunt Camp. This campground is rustic & it has 8 tent only campsites that can be accessed by a very short walk from the parking lot.  There are 2 vault toilets & drinking water hydrants.  Each site has a tent pad, picnic table, fire ring, grill, & lantern post.

The Badin Lake Recreation Area offers a myriad of recreational opportunities. There are 17 miles of Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) or motorized trails available for dirt bikes, ATVs, and full-sized 4-WD vehicles with the purchase of a trail pass.  Primitive camping or dispersed camping can be done along the trails & at the Art Lilley Campground that is located in the Badin Lake OHV Trail Complex.

Additionally, there are approximately 40 miles of non-motorized trails available for horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. These trails range from easy to difficult as they traverse beautifully wooded areas, rocky outcrops, follow the Uwharrie River & many of its tributaries. 

The Cove Boat Launch is located on Cove Road near Arrowhead Campground & offers access to Badin Lake for trailered boats. There is a vault toilet. There are 2 day use areas for picnicking & fishing. The King's Mt. Point Day Use Area offers 34 picnic sites, a picnic pavilion, 4 accessible fishing piers and 4 vault toilets & 2 flush toilets. Holt's Picnic Area is more rustic with a vault toilet, fishing from the shore, grills & picnic tables available.

Cliffside Lake

Cliffside Lake Recreation Area offers seven hiking trails, a six-acre lake and two spectacular waterfalls make Cliffside Lake Recreation Area a mecca for those who enjoy the outdoors. Camp, swim and hike within a two-mile radius. Cliffside Lake Recreation Area offers two covered picnic shelters that must be reserved, a bathhouse with cold showers, a lake for fishing and swimming, a gazebo and six short hiking trails. Some trails lead to waterfalls. Stay is limited to 14 days. To prevent pipes from freezing, the recreation area’s water is turned off when the area is closed. No fee is charged in winter.

Call 828-862-5962 to reserve.

From Cliffside Lake, anglers may fish the shoreline. To fish Cliffside Lake and nearby streams and rivers, anglers must have a North Carolina fishing license and trout stamp. Swimming in Cliffside Lake is a favorite pastime at Cliffside Lake Recreation Area. Bathhouse facilities are available with showers. No flotation devices are permitted on the lake.

Hike a short trail. Van Hook Trail: This 0.5-mile trail is located between Van Hook Glade and Cliffside Lake. An additional 0.5-mile walk is next to a road that leads to Cliffside Lake. Cliffside Vista Nature Trail: This trail travels one mile through pine-hardwood forest and climbs to a ridge top. Signs give trail descriptions along this trail, rated as more difficult.

Clifftop Vista Trail: This 1.5-mile trail follows the same path as the Clifftop Vista Nature Trail. At the ridge top is a gazebo, the trail offers a panoramic mountain view. After the gazebo, this more-difficult trail continues along the ridge.

Skitty Creek Trail: This 0.5-mile trail runs between Cliffside Lake Road and U.S. 64. The trail leads to Dry Falls. To get to the falls from the trail’s end, take a short walk along U.S. 64. Watch out for cars along this easy trail.

Pott’s Memorial Trail: This easy 0.5 mile trail travels to a white pine plantation,

Cliffside Loop: This 0.75-mile trail encircles the lake, passes through the campground, and crosses over the dam and beach area.

Homesite Road Trail: This easy 1.5-mile trail starts near Cliffside Lake Dam, follows Skitty Creek, and connects with a road that meets U.S. 64 halfway between Dry and Bridal Veil Falls.

Points of interest

Dry Falls: The falls is so-called because you keep dry when walking behind a 75-foot waterfall. Reach Dry Falls by following a 0.1-mile trail from the parking area to the falls. This day-use area is open year-round. Find this waterfall off U.S. 64, 2.5 miles east of Highlands in Cullasaja Gorge.

Bridal Veil Falls: Alongside U.S. 64, Bridal Veil Falls cascades over a rocky cliff, where it forms a pool of water that flows through a culvert beneath the road to Cullasaja River. A pull-off allows autos to drive behind the falls. The waterfall is very popular for sightseers. No fee is charged.

Fontana Dam

Fontana Lake is a reservoir impounded by Fontana Dam on the Little Tennessee River located in Graham and Swain counties in North Carolina. The lake forms part of the southern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the northern border of part of the Nantahala National Forest. Depending on water levels, the lake is about 17 miles (27 km) long. The eastern end is the Tuckasegee River near Bryson City.[1] The lake has many inlets into coves and many islands formed from former mountain peaks, especially near the eastern end. As with most dam-impounded lakes, the steep banks are exposed when water levels are low. Many towns were submerged shortly after the creation of Fontana Lake, such as Proctor and Judson.

Short of a multi-day hike, Fontana Lake provides the only access into the most remote areas of the National Park. When the lake is at the normal summer level, a boat may be used to access remote trailheads such as Hazel Creek. From the observation tower on Clingmans Dome, on a clear day the lake can be seen nearly a mile below. While the maximum controlled elevation of the lake (top of dam gates) is 1,710 ft (520 m), the normal Summer surface elevation is 1,703 ft (519 m).[2] NC 28 roughly parallels the southern shore of the lake and US 19 between Bryson City and Wesser/Lauada briefly skims an inlet at the extreme southeastern edge.

Fontana Reservoir is located in Swain and Graham Counties.  The Northern side of the lake is completely surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the rest of the shoreline is primarily National Forest.  Fontana reservoir provides some of the best walleye fishing in the state.  There are also several other game fish including:  Black bass species, sunfish, crappie, catfish, and white bass.

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Lake James

Lake James State Park. Campsites, boat landings, park facilities which include 20 picnic areas with tables and grills, horseshoe pits, concession stand, restrooms and a public pay phone. Canoes rented seasonally. Park rangers present nature programs, mostly including guided hikes along the shoreline, twice monthly. For information regarding the nature hikes and camping, call 828-652-5047. Lake James contains 10.2 square miles (26 km2) of surface area and more than 150 miles (240 km) of shoreline. Housing development on the lake has been considerable since the 1980s, and is concentrated on its southern and eastern shores. Most of the non-developed area around Lake James is owned by Crescent Resources, LLC. In 1999, several bald eagles were found nesting in trees on the northeastern shore of Lake James, stopping housing development in their vicinity. A small species of jellyfish also lives in its waters.

With over 150 miles of shoreline and 6,510 surface acres, Lake James offers excellent year-round fishing in a beautiful mountain lake setting. Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Bream and Crappie are common. The lake's Largemouth Bass record is over 14 pounds, and the Smallmouth record is over 7 pounds. The state record Tiger Muskellunge, over 33 pounds, the state record White Catfish, at 13 pounds, and the state record Northern Pike, at almost 12 pounds, were all taken from Lake James.

Public access to the lake in McDowell County: Black Bear Access Area on the northern perimeter of the lake (Lake James Road), Canal Bridge via NC 126 at McDowell-Burke line, Hidden Cove Access Area near Lake James State Park off NC 126, and North Fork Access Area off Hankins Road. A few commercial landings and bait & tackle shops are available on the lake perimeter.





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