Camping on South Core Banks & Cape Lookout

Open all year camping, is available for tents, picnic tables, bathhouses, and restrooms. There are established camping in the park and few other amenities, such as water pumps or toilets, available within the park’s boundaries, All camping is primitive. You must bring everything you need and take all trash with you.

A camping permit is required for camping within the seashore. These permits are free of charge and are available at each of the park’s visitor centers, as well as at self-serve permit stations on each of the Islands. You may camp for up to 14 consecutive days.

Camping is permitted on all Islands within Cape Lookout National Seashore, however, there are no designated campsites. Tent campers may set up among, but not on, the dunes just behind the ocean beach as well as on the sound-side of the Island. 

Vehicle Camping

Vehicle camping is permitted only on North and South Core Banks. All vehicles and trailer must remain on the ocean beach or use the designated pull-outs near Cape Lookout point.

Vehicles are not allowed to camp on the sound-side of the Island.

Areas Closed To Camping

  • Harker’s Island Visitor Center site
  • Designated long-term parking lots/areas
  • In concession cabin areas
  • Within 100 yards of the lighthouse, or any Cabin or house
  • Within 100 feet of any docks, shade shelter, restrooms or other structures.
  • In areas closed for sea turtles and bird nesting
  • Within Portsmouth Village Historic District
  • Within the grounds of the Historic Cape Lookout Coast Guard Station

Getting Around

Four wheel drive vehicles and ATV’s are the best source for getting around. All vehicles must be operated by a Licensed driver with a valid driver’s license in their possession. All person’s on ATV’s must wear helmets.

For those without four wheel drives or ATV’s arrangements can be made for travel up and down the beach. Proceed with caution when traveling due to sea turtles and other wildlife. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, use sunscreen, and wear hats or use an umbrella for shade.