Go Camping Along the Haw River

You don’t have to drive to the mountains to get a remote camping feel. The Haw River Corridor offers several camping spots that provide a get-away-from-it all vibe while still being accessible to the NC Triad and Triangle areas.


Hike in.

Paddle in.

Either way, the Haw River has a spot for you to throw up a tent or hammock and lose your worries.

How to Choose Your Campsite

Before you book a site, make sure to look at what amenities the site offers so it matches your level of skill. Some things to consider:

  • Water – Does the site offer potable water? (The campsites listed below do not have potable water. We recommend packing in all water rather than drinking filtered water from the Haw.)
  • Shelter – Does the site offer tent pads? Can you tie up a hammock?
  • Fire – Are fires allowed? Is there a fire ring?
  • Pets – Does the site allow dogs or other pets? If so, what are leash requirements?
  • Access – How do you get to the site? Some sites can be accessed by hiking; others require a boat to access.
  • Parking – Where do you park? Do you need to set a shuttle?

Once you’ve assessed your needs, you can choose your site.

The following camping opportunities are available along the Haw River. This list starts upstream at Shallowford Recreation area with the most downstream location, Spirit Island, appearing last.

Shallowford Campsites

These primitive backcountry campsites can be accessed from the river or by backpacking in from the parking lot. River access is just downhill from the sites, but if you are backpacking to the campsite, expect to walk about one mile from the parking area.

Sites are shaded and include only a cleared camping area and a fire ring. 

There is no potable water. A pit toilet is located at the Shallowford parking lot.

Cost is $10 per night per group. Book Shallowford Campsites here.

Great Bend Campsites

Several campsites are available a short walk from Great Bend Park or from the Haw River (just downstream of the “great bend” in the river). One site offers river views, and all are a short walk to the Haw River, Glencoe Dam, and Glencoe Historic Neighborhood.


Each site has a 12′ x 12′ tent pad, picnic table, and a fire ring. 

There is no potable water. A pit toilet is located beside the Great Bend Park parking lot.

Parking is nearby at the Great Bend Park entrance.

 Cost is $10 per night. Book Great Bend Campsites here.

Sellers Falls Campsites

These sites are on the Haw River Trail and can be accessed only by hiking. Sites are located along the river about 2 miles from either Copland Mill or US70 Bridge. 

Sites are primitive and include a level tent area and a fire ring. There is no potable water or bathroom facilities. All trash must be packed out. 

Currently, parking is available at Stoney Creek Marina, Glencoe Paddle Access, and Red Slide Park.

Book Sellers Falls Campsites here.

Spirit Island Campsite

Spirit Island is a primitive natural area (about 5 acres) that is accessible only by boat. You’ll put in at the Saxapahaw Lake Paddle Access and paddle roughly 5 miles upriver to the island.

Camping is primitive. There is plenty of space for tents and hammocks, but there is no potable water, bathroom facilities, or pre-made fire ring.

Spirit Island is privately owned, and all waste—human and kitchen—must be packed out.

Book Spirit Island through this link.

How to Prepare for Your Camping Trip

Whether backpacking or canoeing to your site, start with REI’s wonderful article on backpacking for beginners. It will help you plan and choose the proper gear. At minimum, you should consider taking:

  • Tent
  • Backpack
  • Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
  • Cook stove and cooking supplies
  • Water (while you can filter water on other trips, we recommend packing in all water rather than drinking from the Haw River)
  • First aid supplies
  • Method for handling waste

How to Prepare for Canoe Camping

Camping from a canoe is much like backpacking. You’ll pack in all necessary gear, but the canoe holds all the weight, which makes canoe-camping a very accessible means of experiencing the wilderness.


If you are canoeing or kayaking to your campsite, you will take similar gear to a backpacking trip, but you should plan to keep it dry. Officially, dry bags are the best (and most expensive) option, especially if you’re on water that could overturn your boat.

If you are paddling on flatwater, you can often make do with large garbage bags to protect from rain and paddle splashes.

We’re Here to Help

If you’d like to get camping along the Haw River but are not sure how to set up a trip, please contact us and let one of our experienced staff help you make decisions.