Our rules are for the protection of our visitors and natural resources, and to make everyone's visit a safe and enjoyable experience. The information given below is a compilation of rules, regulations, park policies, and in some cases state and federal laws. Please observe them for your safety and enjoyment as well as the safety and enjoyment of others. It will preserve our parks and make them a valuable resource now and in the future.
Click the links below to view specific rules related to the menu categories.
Rules for Activities
|Alcohol||Boating & Fishing||Vehicles & Bicycles|
|Guns & Fireworks||Camping & Fires|
|Natural Resources||Special Activities|
|Trash & Litter||Swimming & Surfing|
Possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited, and visitors shall not be or become intoxicated while within any state park or recreation area.
As a courtesy to other campers, please observe the campground quiet hours. Quiet hours are typically from 10:00 pm until 7:00 am. The production or emission in any park or recreation area of noises, amplified speech, music or other sounds that annoy, disturb or frighten park visitors is prohibited at all times.
Some parks border or are scattered along many miles of rivers, waterways and other areas which may border privately owned land. When traveling waterways and using parklands in any of the parks, please respect the rights of private property owners and avoid trespassing on private land when parking vehicles, hiking, biking, canoeing, etc.
Firearms and other weapons are prohibited except that those with a proper permit may possess a concealed handgun in permitted areas and under the requirements of North Carolina G.S. 14-415.11. All firearms and weapons are prohibited in state park visitor centers and park offices. (EXCEPTION: Federal law (36 C.F.R. § 327.13) prohibits loaded firearms or ammunition on those lands and waters at Falls Lake, Jordan Lake and Kerr Lake state recreation areas managed by the state parks system and owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.)
Fireworks, cap pistols, air guns, bows and arrows, slingshots and lethal projectiles or missiles of any kind are prohibited on all properties managed by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
Pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.
Pets must not be left unattended. Campers must confine pets to enclosed vehicles or tents during the park's quiet hours.
Pets are not allowed in bathhouses, changing areas, rinsing stations, swimming areas, restrooms, visitor centers or rental boats. Exceptions are service animals and authorized search and rescue dogs.
Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
Pet owners may be asked to remove dangerous or noisy pets from the park.
All pets within the park must have a current rabies vaccination.
Pack animals, including llamas, alpacas and goats are not allowed in any park except by Special Activity Permit.
The removal, destruction or injury of any tree, flower, artifact, fern, shrub, rock or other plant or mineral in any park is prohibited unless with an approved collection permit for scientific or educational purposes.
North Carolina state parks are wildlife preserves. The hunting, trapping, pursuing, shooting, injuring, killing or molesting of any bird or animal is prohibited. Feeding or baiting wildlife is prohibited.
Certain areas of the park may be closed to public use for safety or for the management and protection of natural resources.
Metal detectors are not allowed in any park area except to locate lost personal property when authorized by a Special Activity Permit.
Loggerhead sea turtles are protected by law. Anyone who harms the turtles, nests or hatchlings is subject to prosecution. Do not enter marked nesting sites on foot or by vehicle.
Bald eagles are protected by law. It is illegal to kill, harass or possess—dead or alive—any eagle or part of an eagle, including feathers and talons. Convictions related to such violations may result in fines as high as $20,000 and imprisonment for one year.
Nesting shorebirds are protected by law. Anyone who harms the birds, nests, or chicks is subject to a fine. Do not enter marked nesting areas on foot or by vehicle. Anyone who enters the sites, harms or harasses the birds is subject to a fine.
Littering is illegal. To help maintain a clean and safe environment for park visitors and wildlife, place trash in proper containers. Wildlife may mistake plastic bags for food and may become entangled in discarded fishing line or other types of litter.
Burying trash is prohibited. Shifting winds and other types of weather may expose trash and endanger wildlife and the environment.
State law requires aluminum cans to be placed in recycling containers where available.
In parks where boating and fishing are allowed during park hours, such activities are regulated by all applicable North Carolina laws and regulations, including those regarding fishing licenses, boat registration and safety requirements.
Laws and regulations may be enforced by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation as well as other regulatory agencies including—but not necessarily limited to—the Wildlife Resources Commission, the Department of Transportation and/or the Division of Marine Fisheries. If unsure, call the specific park office before your visit to learn of boating and/or fishing opportunities.
Boats, rafts and canoes are prohibited within designated swimming areas.
Conducting commercial business/activity in any park is prohibited except during special events governed by a Special Activity Permit.
Photography or video production for commercial purposes is prohibited except under a Film Permit.
Camping is allowed in designated areas by permit only. In most cases, campers register with a ranger on site or at an on-site registration box.
Fires are permitted only in designated areas and must be tended at all times. Gathering firewood is generally prohibited, but may be allowed in some parks.
All vehicles left in the park after posted park hours must be registered.
Visitors must be 18 years or older to register as campers.
For your safety and protection, please stay on designated trails and hiking areas. Also, many rare plants live on thin soils and wet rocks, and are vulnerable to damage from climbing, trampling and scraping.
State parks allow for many special recreational activities such as bicycling events, marathons, photo tours, kite-flying contests, club meetings, etc. However, all such events must be held under a Special Activity Permit. The fee is $35.
The Special Activity permit application is available from the "Forms & Permits" link on the individual park menus, or a permit application may be obtained from the park office.
Swimming and surfing, where allowed are only permitted in designated areas.
Public nudity, including public nude bathing is prohibited. Children under age five are exempt.
Lake Norman: Rules pertinent to the swim complex:
North Carolina motor vehicle and traffic laws apply in all state parks. Unlicensed motor vehicles, including golf carts, unregistered motorcycles, snowmobiles, utility vehicles, mini-bikes and all-terrain vehicles, are prohibited.
Unlicensed drivers may not operate motor vehicles on park roads.
Motorized vehicles are permitted only in designated areas and not permitted on park trails.
All vehicles left in the park after posted park hours must be registered.
No carts, carriages or other horse-drawn apparatus are permitted on park trails.
In all parks, bicycles are permitted only on those trails or other park areas specifically designated for their use.
Bicycle riders under age 16 must wear a helmet.
Bicycle passengers who weigh less than 40 pounds or who are less than 40 inches tall must be seated in a separate restraining seat. All other bicycle riders must be seated on saddle seats. Persons unable to maintain an erect, seated position cannot be bicycle passengers.
Click the links below to view / download rules in their original form.State Parks NCAC Rules - Subchapter 12A