Want to make a dent in your state park bucket list? Visit two in one trip: kayak beneath Spanish moss and pitch your tent at a paddle-in campsite along a blackwater river, then watch sailboats glide across the water from the peaceful, sandy shoreline of a Carolina bay.
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.
As he looks to the future of North Carolina’s protected natural areas, the director of the State Parks system draws inspiration from his youth growing up in Kinston, and from his wide-ranging experience listening to children.