Boating and Swimming: Recreation activities in the park center on an 11-acre man-made lake where a grassy and sandy beach, diving platform, roped-off perimeter and bathhouse provide all of the facilities needed for a refreshing swim. For those who prefer to stay on top of the water, boats are available for rent. Private boats are not permitted. For the hungry, there's also a refreshment stand. Boating and swimming are available Memorial Day through Labor Day from 11 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. for a fee. Swimming is permitted only when lifeguards are on duty.
Camping: Set up tent or trailer on one of thirty-five sites, each with its own picnic table and grill. The family campground at Cliffs of the Neuse is located in a wooded area near the park office. There are no water or electrical hookups, but a dump station is provided. Water is available at several locations in the camping area and a washhouse with hot showers and electricity is centrally located. Occupancy is limited to one family or six people per site and a limit of two tents per site. The family campground is open year-round. Park gates are locked at the posted closing hours, and campers may not leave the park after closing or before 8 a.m., except in a medical emergency.
Group Camping: A portion of the park has been set aside as a primitive camping area for organized groups. There are four sites available that can accommodate up to 30 persons each. Each site has picnic tables, a fire pit and a grill. Drinking water and waterless toiles are located nearby. Reservations are required for use of the area. Group camping is available year round.
Education and Events: Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. Click the events link on the Park Menu to access our database of park events. To arrange a special exploration of Cliffs of the Neuse State Park for your group or class, contact the park office.
Educational materials about Cliffs of the Neuse State Park have been developed for grades 6-8 and are correlated to North Carolina's competency-based curriculum in science, social studies, mathematics and English/language arts. The Cliffs of the Neuse program introduces students to basic geologic concepts, including geologic history, fossils and prehistoric life, and erosion. Accompanying the program is a teacher's booklet and workshop, free of charge to educators.
Click the Education tab above to learn more about environmental education in the parks and to search our database of upcoming workshops.
Fishing: The banks of the Neuse River provide scenic spots to wet your line. The river and its tributaries are home to bluegill, largemouth bass and several species of catfish. In the spring, white and hickory shad migrate up the river. A state fishing license is required and all regulations of the Wildlife Resources Commission are enforced. Fishing is not permitted in the lake.
Hiking: Follow the cliffs' edge for lovely views of the river below. A path bordered by a rail fence leads along the riverbank. Oaks, dogwoods and other trees line the path, often cloaking views of the river with a veil of Spanish moss. Though the cliffs formed over millions of years, irresponsible actions on the part of man could destroy them in no time. To preserve this beautiful formation, climbing on the cliffs is not permitted.
Follow park trails to creeks that were once used to make moonshine and cornmeal. Mill Creek was the home of a gristmill that processed grain while federally-operated whiskey stills were located along Still Creek. Today, the area where these creeks empty into the Neuse River serves as a place to fish and enjoy nature.
Four hiking trails are accessible from the parking lot at the museum. Each is less than a mile in length and offers a closer look into the heart of Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.
Picnicking: The shade of huge pine trees offers just the place for outdoor dining. Located near the lake, the picnic area has 30 picnic tables served by 10 grills. Drinking water and restrooms are located nearby. The park's picnic shelter is perfect for large gatherings. Twelve tables and two fireplaces are housed in a covered brick shelter. To be certain that the shelter is available, reservations are advised. Use of the shelter is free of charge and on a first-come, first-served basis, unless reservations are requested. It can be reserved for a fee.