Carolina Beach State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Carolina Beach State Park rests just along the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on the northwestern side of Pleasure Island, North Carolina. Guests love to come and relax in this coastal setting, perfect for personal boats and RV living. The Snow’s Cut waterway provides an inlet area that's ideal for every style of water relaxation.

Bring your fishing gear and come enjoy the water or bring your boat and explore the North Carolina coast. Hike or travel by boat to your favorite quiet spot and enjoy the wildlife along the water’s edge. Bring your paddleboard or rent one to try this increasingly popular sport.

Once a peninsula, Pleasure Island now has water on all sides. The current geography of Carolina Beach State Park offers a 761-acre outdoor playground. Park guests can easily leave the outside world behind and delve into days of refreshment. Bring the kids and take a walk through history. Place your feet along the ground where the Cape Fear Indians sought to guard their land. Explore the area in which early settlers tried to begin anew, only to meet with unfriendly pirates.

Cross the bridge for an afternoon in historic Wilmington (just across the Snow’s Cut Bridge). Return to your RV campsite for an evening meal as the sun begins its descent in the western sky. Wake up to hear the sounds of animal life mixed with crashing waves just beyond your campsite. You and your crew are sure to find a piece of calm at this sweet island park.

RV Rentals in Carolina Beach State Park

Transportation in Carolina Beach State Park

Driving

Carolina Beach State Park is located 10 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina off of US 421. This hidden little island is accessible by bridge, ferry, or personal boat. Highway 421 includes a bridge that crosses the Snow’s Cut waterway bringing travelers onto Pleasure Island (which is home to Carolina Beach State Park).

Be sure to check current weather forecasts. The Snow’s Cut Bridge is subject to closure during severe weather patterns. Consider the driving limitations of your vehicle, RV, or boat trailer when making travel plans - especially if questionable storms are underway.

Boat docking options are available through the park marina. A fuel dock is also available for boats via the marina store. Dryland boat parking is available as needed.

All guests must plan to enter and exit the park during hours when the gates are open. An after-hours emergency number is available through the park office. Visiting this moderately remote coastal environment means that you will become secluded from many external resources once the park gate entrance has closed.

Therefore, it is best to have (or purchase) anything that you may want before crossing the Snow’s Cut Bridge. The City of Wilmington, North Carolina offers a few more options for making general purchases.

Bicycles are not allowed on trailways within the park grounds. Visitors may ride the maintained bike path located outside the park.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Carolina Beach State Park

Campsites in Carolina Beach State Park

Reservations camping

Wilmington KOA

An Atlantic port city that grew along the Cape Fear River, Wilmington, NC has art, architecture, entertainment and shopping to offer visitors. Get close to the beach and the historic downtown when you pull up at leafy Wilmington KOA, where landscaped spots await. Choices range from deluxe patio sites with full hookups, up to 50-amp service, and gas grill and firepit, to shady water/electric sites close to the pool. There's a Kamping Kitchen, firewood and propane on-site. Wi-Fi and cable TV are available. Bring rigs up to 65 feet, and pets are welcome.

Carolina Beach State Park Campground

Due to guest interest, trailer and RV options have increased at the park. Short and long-term camping options are available for your convenience. The campground is open all year (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Reservations are recommended. Campsites that remain unreserved will be available on a first-come-first-served basis at the park.

Be sure to check the amenities for your chosen campsite when reserving. Water, electric, and sewer are available in limited supply. Electrical sites are located near the entrance to the campground. The park does offer one wheelchair accessible campsite with hookups.

Drinking water, bathhouse, and dump station facilities are available from within the campground. A coin-operated laundry is located in the park near the marina. Water spigots are located throughout the campground for general use.

Campsites are heavily wooded. The beach is not visible from the campground. No waterfront access is available directly from the campground area. Water is accessible from the marina.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Carolina Beach State Park

In-Season

Kayaking and Stand Up Paddleboarding

Snow’s Cut offers the perfect place for beginners and veterans to enjoy these waters up close. Bring your own small human-powered craft or rent one! Prepare yourself accordingly with the proper safety information needed for your mode of recreational travel.

Ensure that your route matches your level of experience. Consider each member of your group and their individual physical ability and comfort. Paddle NC, a local rental company, offers seasonal kayak and paddle board rentals. Tours are also available by request.

Boating

Transient slip rentals are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Long-term docking is available by application. The park marina offers two public boat ramps. The 54-slip marina provides a shower option with slip rental. (A laundry room is also available). As a part of the Intracoastal Waterway, Snow’s Cut allows boat passage inland from the Atlantic coastline.

Be mindful of tidal waters. Review the NOAA website for tidal currents at Orton Point. A drawbridge schedule is available through the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Ranger Led Hiking

Catch a ranger and enjoy an informative hike during your stay. Get your chance to ask those lingering historical questions. Be sure to ask about that strange looking local wildlife that you think you may have seen. Hikes are scheduled according to each particular season. Exact hike times will vary. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes for your chosen hike and the current season.

Off-Season

Fishing

A wheelchair-accessible fishing deck brings the waters to you with ease. You may also fish from the river bank or from your personal boat. Be ready to enjoy flounder, sheepshead, and maybe even some speckled trout. It is best to obtain any fishing gear (including live bait) you look forward to using before crossing the bridge to the park. Minimal gear is available from the marina store.

A North Carolina Coastal Recreational Fishing License is required, available at local fishing stores. Be sure to consider your chosen length of stay when you purchase your license. State fishing laws apply within the park. Fishing is not permitted on the marina.

Hiking

Nine trails of varying length are ready to be explored here near the North Carolina coastline. Trailways are broken up into .25 to three miles in length, totally over seven seven miles if you travel them all. Along the way, you will walk through several local animal habitats. Be ready to see a few creatures who might join you while taking the wooded trail to your campsite on the Snow’s Cut Trail – or just for a quiet stroll.

Historical Exploration

Carolina Beach State Park is loaded with historical concepts to consider! Take your time and peruse the natural geologic features of the park’s grounds as you think back through the last 400 years of history. Where would you have placed your living accommodation as a Cape Fear Indian family? Why would you have found this area of interest as a pirate in the 1700’s? As an early colonist, what resources would the park’s acreage have offered you? Take your time pondering how others have found appreciation for this unique land and why it has become a place of eternal preservation.

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