Located in the coastal plains region of southeast North Carolina, Jones Lake State Park is the perfect destination for your next RV vacation. The unique bay geology of the area has been puzzling scientists for ages, and it's still unknown how these depressions known as Carolina bays were formed. The park's two lakes are both considered Carolina bays, and even if geology doesn't pique your interests, you can still enjoy the water for recreational purposes.
The 224-acre Jones Lake is one of the main attractions at the park. Swimmers and sunbathers can take advantage of the sandy beach, and boaters and paddlers can glide across the water in their own or rented watercraft. Anglers can even drop a line and reel in yellow perch, catfish, or sunfish from the scenic, tea-colored lake. For those who prefer to keep both feet on solid ground, there are three different hiking trails that range in length and difficulty. Once you're ready for a break from all the fun activities, you can hunker down at one of the picnicking areas in the park, or head back to your campsite and relax in the campervan.
There are 20 RV-friendly sites available at Jones Lake State Park, six of which have full hookups. This small campground fills up quickly during the peak summer months, so don't waste any more time planning your RV vacation to Jones Lake.
Although Jones Lake State Park is far from big-city hubs (Wilmington and Fayetteville are about an hour away), you won't have to go too far off the beaten path to reach the entrance. The main park entrance is off of NC-242, just minutes from the well-traveled US-701. These routes are well maintained and should pose no travel problems, even for those maneuvering big rigs. If you need to stock up on supplies or fill up on gas before entering the park, Elizabethtown is located nearby and is equipped with anything you may need.
Once inside the park, roads remain paved and well maintained for easy travel. The park is fairly small, so after you park the motorhome at your site and set up camp, you can easily walk to and from all the main attractions. There are even some hiking trails that leave right from the campground.
Those who are just visiting for the day or are hauling a boat behind the Sprinter can make use of the large parking lot available near the boathouse. Be sure to arrive plenty early if you are visiting during the peak summer months, as space in the parking lot often goes quickly.
If one day at Jones Lake State Park simply wasn't enough, you can always park your campervan at one of the 20 RV-friendly sites at the park's campground. Most sites are basic and can accommodate rigs up to 50 feet, while some sites are better suited for tents. Six of the sites are equipped with full hookups, and two are ADA-accessible. No matter which site you choose, you'll be able to bring Fido, as the whole campground is pet-friendly. Guests will also find a picnic table and fire ring at each site, and restrooms with showers and drinking water are located nearby. The campground is also located nearby hiking trails, the beach, and a fishing pier.
The campground is open year-round, with reservations available up to 11 months in advance. Any sites unreserved on the day upon arrival will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you're not much for planning, you may still be able to snag a campsite at Jones Lake State Park. If any sites are unreserved on the day of your arrival, they will become available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground is comprised of 20 sites, six of which offer full hookups and two of which are ADA-compliant. Sites go quickly, especially during the busy summer months, so if you are planning a trip, you may want to try and make a reservation in advance.
If you're camping with a crowd, you can stay at Jones Lake's primitive group campground. This large site can accommodate up to 35 guests and is equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and benches. There is also a bathhouse nearby with flush toilets and hot showers. Pets are allowed, and up to six vehicles can park right outside of the campground. The campground is available year-round for organized groups, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If the campground at Jones Lake State Park was full, you won't have to drive too far to find a place to park the teardrop for a night.
Lumber River State Park is less than an hour from Jones Lake and offers spacious sites to RV campers. There are no hookups available, however, so if you're looking to score a spot there you'll have to rough it for a night or two.
Lake Waccamaw is also a great alternative spot to park the RV, and there are plenty of private RV parks in the area. This is a great area for those looking to camp with their creature comforts, as most RV resorts offer full hookups, and some go above and beyond in terms of their amenities.
North Carolina can get hot, with the mercury often rising into the 90s during the peak summer months. Luckily, Jones Lake is equipped with a family-friendly swimming beach, so don't forget to pack your bathing suit along in the Airstream when you visit the park. You could spend the afternoon cooling off in the shallow water, or simply soaking up some sun from the beach. There is even a concession stand and bathhouse located nearby for added convenience.
Even if you're not much for swimming or sunbathing, you should still try to enjoy some time at Jones Lake while you're visiting the park. Because the lake is only fed by precipitation, it is quite shallow, making it a great place for paddling. You can tow your own boat along behind the Sprinter, or rent a canoe or paddleboard from the bathhouse. If you're launching your own watercraft, just be sure that the motor is under ten horsepower.
After a long day on the water, there's no better way to spend the rest of the afternoon than by enjoying a scenic picnic. There are plenty of places to hunker down at the park, with over 50 tables and 15 grills available to visitors. If you're planning an event or party, there is even a picnic shelter that can accommodate up to 100 people. The shelter can be reserved in advance for a fee, otherwise, it is available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you're just a few, you can always enjoy a meal right outside of your pop-up, as each campsite is equipped with its own picnic table and fire ring.
Although Jones Lake is on the smaller side at just 224 acres, there are still a number of species that have proved prosperous to anglers over the years. The lake is shallow and has a high acidity to boot, but that doesn't stop yellow perch, chub suckers, chain pickerel, blue-spotted sunfish, or catfish from calling the water home. You can cast out via boat so long as its motor is under ten horsepower, or drop a line from the fishing pier located near the RV campground.
After you park the travel trailer and set up camp, you can start to explore the park on foot. There are three trails to choose from, measuring over six miles in total. For an easy hike, check out the one mile Cedar Loop Trail. You'll go through both the sand ridge and bay forest ecosystems, and if you tread lightly you may see some of the park's full-time residents including woodpeckers, tree frogs, and foxes. For a more challenging hike, head to either the Bay Trail or Salters Lake Trail, both of which measure about four miles in length.
If you're looking to learn more about the park's history, geology, or natural resources during your RV vacation to Jone's Lake, you will find plenty of information waiting for you. The Visitor Center is a good starting point, with exhibits and informational posters available inside. You can also ask a park ranger about the nature programs and events offered throughout the year. Possible programs include guided hikes or paddles, animal talks and feedings, or arts and crafts nights. These programs are a great way to get the youngsters out of motorhome and interested in nature, and most events are interesting for the whole family.