Three Alternatives To Tent Camping In The Carolinas

December 12, 2018

If the 2017 American Camper Report is anything to go by, our love for the great outdoors is not going anywhere. In fact, 40.5 million Americans went camping at least once in 2016, with overall camping participation rates increasing from the year prior. Approximately 11 percent of all campers were brand new to the activity in 2016, which is an encouraging statistic at such a pivotal time for both our national parks and the environment at-large.

Even better is that, according to a Kampgrounds of America survey, an estimated 13 million US households planned to camp more in 2017 than they did the year prior. Millennials are actually driving the upward trajectory in camping, which means many members of this generation already love to immerse themselves in nature.

That said, some younger people (and some older people, too) might not be too crazy about pitching a tent in the wilderness. Fortunately, the traditional type of camping is not the only way to go. There are several other ways to appreciate the natural beauty of our nation — especially in the picturesque locales that North and South Carolina have to offer — without being forced to “rough it.”

RV Camping

If you like the idea of traveling around the country without ever having to actually leave home, RV camping might be a good fit for you. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association reports that nearly 10 million US households now own an RV. And since there are currently more than 18,000 public and privately owned campgrounds all around the country, there is no shortage of opportunities for avid RVers to explore and take in the breathtaking scenery.

An alternative to the cost of an RV is the combination of your existing vehicle with a pop-up car top tent. Roofnest, for example, has a line of hardshell roof top tents that fit on any vehicle. 

In North Carolina, you can easily dock your RV at a campground in the Outer Banks, outside of Raleigh, or even on a Cherokee Indian Reservation near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you travel into South Carolina, there are RV-friendly campgrounds near Charleston, in Myrtle Beach, and on Hilton Head Island. Whether you are a fan of the coastline or want to take in the mountain ranges, there is plenty of beauty to behold and versatility to experience.


For those seeking a more luxurious version of the camping experience, there’s nothing quite like glamping. You can get the chance to experience the beauty of the natural world without being forced to give up your creature comforts. Although this term has existed for at least the last decade, this trend is really starting to catch on in the United Kingdom. One UK-based glamping website reported a 50 percent increase in bookings during the first three months of 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017. In the US, in fact, glamping has become “mainstream”,  as well, with many glamping sites reporting plans to expand.

If you want to go glamping in the Carolinas, you have countless options available to you. There are solar-powered teepees, tree houses, luxury tents, Airbnb properties, restored airstreams, and yurts in national forests to satisfy your curiosity and provide all the comforts of home. That is exactly the kind of compromise that will appeal to millennials, Gen Xers, and everyone in between.

Log Cabins

To some purists, log cabins might fall under the “glamping” category. But for others, they are in a genre all their own. Cabin camping allows you to take in all Mother Nature has to offer without having to worry about sleeping on the cold, hard ground in the pouring rain. The National Park Service estimates that log cabin-like structures have been around since the Bronze Age and have long since been preferable because of how easy they are to build. While log cabins built centuries ago were not intended to be permanent, many families know just how durable and desirable these dwellings can be.

If you want to stay in a log cabin the next time you camp in the Carolinas, there are numerous rustic rentals located adjacent to national forests and parks, many of them steeped in history. But while some can be traced back to the 1700s, many are updated with modern amenities. In other words, you will get all the charm without any of the pitfalls. And if you fall in love with the idea of having your own cabin to come back to every year, there are lots of log homes for sale that can satisfy your need to commune with nature.

Whether you would prefer to travel around with your entire home or you simply do not want to give up your creature comforts, there are plenty of ways to camp in the Carolinas without resorting to a tent and a sleeping bag. You just need to know where to look.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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