North Carolina’s longest river connects the Piedmont to the Pamlico. Along the way, this peaceful, winding tributary offers shady swimming holes, sandy beaches, paddling trails, historic riverside towns, and delicious seafood.
From a 6,684-foot peak in the west to a shape-shifting sand dune in the east, our state parks hold the best of what North Carolina has to offer. Together, they tell the story of the place we call home.
In Bladen County, before integration, a former military man and his family were stewards of the first North Carolina state park open to Black families. There, amid acres of longleaf pines and a sprawling lake, families and friends gathered to eat, play, and pray.
In Wayne County, the effects of time and nature are visible at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, where, for millions of years, the river has carved a winding path to the sea. A closer look at some of the park’s tiniest residents provides insight and answers to questions great and small.