Camping at Lake James State Park

Available Camping Facilities

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Paddy's Creek Access Only

The Paddy's Creek access has 33 drive-in sites that are perfect with families with lots of camping gear. These sites are open to a maximum of 6 people per campsite.

Each campsite has parking for two vehicles adjacent to the camping pad. Each site's driveway is 20 feet long.

The campsite has a fire pit and picnic table. The tent pad measures 12 feet by 12 feet.

Potable faucets are located throughout the camping area. There is a centrally located bathhouse with toilets and hot showers that is open 24/7.

Sites 13 and 14 are accessible for people with limited mobility or disabilities. Please do not reserve an accessible site if no one in your group needs it, unless it is the only site left available when you are making your reservation.

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Catawba River Access Only

Twenty walk-in sites are located along or near the shoreline at the Catawba River access. There is a maximum of 6 people per site occupancy.

After parking in the centrally located lot, campers must hike 150 to 300 yards to their campsite. The trail to campground includes an elevation change of about 100 feet. Campers are encouraged to pack lightly.

Each campsite has a fire pit and picnic table. The tent pad measure 17 feet by 16 feet.

Potable water faucets are located throughout the camping area. A bathhouse with toilets and hot showers is open 24/7 near the parking area.

Sites 19 and 20 are accessible for people with limited mobility or disabilities. These sites can be driven to if needed. Please do not reserve an accessible site if no one in your group needs it, unless it is the only site left available when you are making your reservation. 

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Long Arm Peninsula

There are 30 campsites on the Long Arm Peninsula available for paddle-in camping, accessibly only by boat. You cannot hike or drive to these sites. The sites are 20 to 150 feet from the shoreline.

Each site has a fire pit, picnic table, and a 24 feet by 16 feet tent pad.

There is no running water at the paddle-in camping area. Campers must bring their own water for drinking and washing dishes, etc. There are toilet facilities strategically located throughout the camping area.

Lake James State Park may have canoes and kayaks available to rent to access the paddle-in campsites. Please call the park before you arrive to check availability.

Campers who are bringing their own paddling equipment can park overnight at Paddy's Creek access — please obtain an overnight parking pass at the park office, fill it out completely, and display it on your vehicle dashboard. If you have a motorized boat, you can park overnight at the Canal Bridge Boat Ramp, which has 24/7 access.

Reservations are required for the paddle-in sites. You must make the reservation prior to arriving.

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Important Information

Check-In and Check-Out Times

Check-in at Lake James State Park is 4 p.m. and check-out is at 3 p.m.

Some parks can accommodate early check-in or late check-out, depending on the reservation schedule and site availability. Please contact the park to make such arrangements: or 828-544-6800.

Please note that reservations will be forfeited if campers are more than 24 hours late.

Leave No Trace

Camp on designated sites only. Your camping equipment must be on the tent pad or within the designated limits of each site. When leaving, inspect your campsite, food preparation areas, and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.

Burn all wood and coals to ash. Put out campfires completely before you leave, then scatter cool ashes.

Learn About the Seven Principles

Bears at Long Arm Peninsula

Paddle-in campers staying at Long Arm Peninsula should be aware that they are in bear territory. Please store all your food, drinks, soap, cosmetics, coolers, etc. inside the food lockers located at each campsite.

For trash, you may store it in the food locker, or tie it over a tree limb, no less than 10 feet from the ground and away from the trunk. Please remove and take all trash and supplies with you when you leave.


Not all campsites have identical amenities. Read the campsite information on ReserveAmerica to see photos of campsites; check availability and fees; find out whether a specific site is wheelchair accessible, has access to water, bathhouses, or pit toilets, or has RV hookups; and learn other important information.

Gate Access

Park gates are closed and locked at posted closing times for your protection. All visitors who are not spending the night need to be out by closing time. Vehicles left overnight must have a camping tag.

The electronic gates at Paddy's Creek access open automatically when a vehicle exiting the park slowly approaches the gate. Campers may enter the parking areas after hours with the electronic code printed on the reservation confirmation or receipt.


Firewood bundles can be purchased at the park from the visitor center or a campground host. Contact the park for current prices. Fires are permitted only in designated areas and must be tended at all times. Gathering firewood is prohibited.

Please don't transport firewood into our state parks because you could unknowingly spread dangerous insects and diseases and harm the forest. Purchase firewood locally or buy heat-treated firewood. For more information on how to have a risk-free campfire experience, please visit the Don't Move Firewood website.

Making Reservations

All North Carolina state park campgrounds are designated for recreation only. A single campsite can be reserved for a maximum of 14 consecutive nights within any 30-day period. Upon reaching that limit, a camper must vacate the park for 16 nights before returning.

Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance.

Changes and Cancellations

You can cancel reservations online by logging into your account on ReserveAmerica. Please note that there is a $6 fee per night to cancel your reservation. The fees will be deducted from your refund.

Same-day cancellations will incur an additional charge of one night's camping. You cannot cancel a one-night reservation on the same day. Same-day cancellations can be made only by calling the reservations number at 1-877-722-6762.

If you need to make changes to your reservation, please call ReserveAmerica at 1-877-722-6762. You cannot switch dates, campsites, or parks using your account online — you will be charged the cancellation fees, even if you book a new site.

In the event of a closure for a campsite, campground, or the entire park, you will be contacted automatically by ReserveAmerica to cancel or change your reservation. You will receive a full refund for cancellations due to park closures.

No refunds are issued for "no-shows," early departures, or cancellations made after the arrival date.

Camping Rates per Night

All prices listed on the page include the $3 reservation fee.

Campsite Type Nightly Rate
Campsite with no hookups
— drive-in tent sites at Paddy's Creek access
— walk-in backpack sites at Catawba River access
Primitive tent camping
— paddle-in sites at Long Arm Peninsula


Senior Citizen and Military/Veteran Discount

Campers 62 years old or older and any veteran or active military members are eligible for a $6 discount per night on most reservations (except group campsites). When making a reservation online, check the box for the discount program to apply it to your reservation. When you check in at the park, please make sure you have a valid ID with your birthdate or proof of military service or veteran status to confirm the discounted rate.

There are no other discounts or passes for camping.

Volunteer as a Campground Host

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Campground hosts "live in" the park and assist park staff in maintaining the campgrounds and in serving campers. They typically answer questions, provide directions to local amenities, and inform campers of the rules and hours of the campground. They may also help register campers when the visitor center or park office is closed for the day, or they may sell firewood.

Campground hosts serve as the point of contact between campers and on-call rangers. They would report incidents, suspicious behavior, and other situations that may need to be addressed by staff.

Campground hosts serve as volunteers, so they do not get paid. A volunteer work schedule will be arranged with the park's host coordinating ranger. Those interested in serving as campground hosts should be willing to work flexible hours and be prepared to work on weekends and holidays.

Hosts will stay on the host campsite free of charge. Campground hosts serve for 1 month.

Hosts need to be willing to learn about the operations and general information about the park and the local area, in order to effectively assist campers. They must follow and comply with all North Carolina State Parks rules and regulations.

Hosts with pets are permitted, but they must follow pet rules at all times: dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet, and they must be kept in the host's vehicle during quiet hours.