Off the beaten track and nestled on the calm banks of the Lake Phelps, Pettigrew State Park in North Carolina offers RVers and tent campers a peaceful holiday away from home. The park covers the 5,951 acres of shorelines surrounding the Scuppernong River and Lake Phelps. It is located in Washington and Tyrrell counties, and the nearest town is Creswell, 6.6 miles away. The lake gets its name from the colonist Josiah Phelps, who was on the expedition that found the lake and who claimed the right to name it because he was the first one in the water. Before the colonists, residents to the area called the swampy area surrounding the lake the Great Alligator Dismal and the Great Eastern Dismal. The Pungo National Wildlife Refuge is just over 30 miles away from the park and is well worth the drive.
There is a small museum in the park that has stunning taxidermy and local artifacts to see. Visitors can also enjoy a tour of the Somerset Plantation, the guides are very knowledgeable and help bring the past to life. RVers can explore the shores by foot and waters of Lake Phelps and Scuppernong River with kayaks, shallow-draft boats, and canoes. In the lake, you can fish for largemouth bass in crystal-clear water, see ancient Native Indian dugout canoes, find a tree as wide as an elephant, or visit history by visiting the grave of a Confederate general. Visitors can enjoy a nice blend of history and nature at Pettigrew State Park.
RV Rentals in Pettigrew State Park
Transportation in Pettigrew State Park
Pettigrew State Park is located near the North Carolina coast just outside of Creswell. The park is approximately 59 miles west of Nag's Head in the Outer Banks, 77 miles east of Greenville, and 152 miles east of Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. From all directions, drivers will use US-64 to reach the smaller roads leading into the park. Although the park is out in the country, it is easy to find because the roads to the park are clearly marked. RVers with larger rigs won't have any difficulty driving to the park or in the park. Day visitors will find suitable parking next to the park office.
Campgrounds and parking in Pettigrew State Park
Campsites in Pettigrew State Park
Cape Hatteras KOA
Cape Hatteras KOA is not just any campground —it’s a resort! Relax and experience the beach right here, where you’ll be surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound. Visit nearby Cape Hatteras National Seashore, spot birds and loggerhead turtles at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, or try a kiteboarding or windsurfing excursion. Retreat to the resort comforts of Cape Hatteras KOA and cool off in the pool with its double water slide, relax in the hot tub area, and grab a bite to eat at the poolside cafe. The summer brings special events and activities like movie nights, live music, tie-dyeing, and more! On-site amenities include Wi-Fi, cable TV, a dog park, and firewood and propane are available on-site for purchase.
For campers wanting to do more primitive camping, there is a group camping site available. This site is situated in a beautiful forest and can accommodate up to 26 people and five vehicles. Camping amenities include tent pads, pit toilets, grills, fire pits, and four picnic tables. Water is available 170 feet away from the camping site. This campground is a hike-in camping area, and campers will have to park in the parking area and hike the remaining 400 feet to the campsite. This campsite is ideal for group camps focused on outdoor learning and survival. A group shelter, which can accommodate up to 48 people and 45 vehicles, can also be rented for family get-togethers and other functions. The facilities include a fire pit and a grill, and four picnic tables. Water and restrooms are located a short walk away, and the lake is 1000 feet away.
Pettigrew State Park Campground
Pettigrew State Park has a small campground with 13 individual campsites, which are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. These sites are suitable for both tent campers, trailers, and RVers and are accessible for people with disabilities. No hookups are available for RVers to use, and there is no dump station in the park. Each site comes with a grill, picnic table, and fire pit. Visitors are allowed to bring their pets along at no extra charge, but pets must be kept on a leash at all times. A communal washhouse is situated in the campground with flushing toilets and hot showers. During the winter, the washhouse is closed, and restrooms are available near the park office. Three water spigots are scattered around the campsite for communal use between the sites. The distance to the closest water spigot is usually 50 feet. Visitors can walk about 1300 steps from their campsites to the shore of the lake.
Seasonal activities in Pettigrew State Park
The clear, shallow water of Lake Phelps is appealing to swim in. Visitors can enjoy swimming in the designated area, a short walk from the Lake Shore Trail, as well as the picnic area on the north side of the park. In the swimming area, there is a pier with two ladders so that both adults and small children can easily access the water. Parents can sit on the seating provided at the end of the pier and keep an eye on their children while they swim. No lifeguards are on duty, so parents and guardians are responsible for supervising their children's swim time. Campers and day visitors can swim in the lake during the regular park hours. Swimming is free, and pets are not allowed in the water.
Lake Phelps is North Carolina's second-largest natural lake. Visitors to the park will see turtles and many different types of fishes while out on the lake. You can bring your own kayak, canoe, or paddleboat with you, or you can rent one of these during your stay at Pettigrew State Park. The conditions are also ideal for sailing on shallow-draft boats out on to the lake. Visitors can make use of the boat ramp near the park office. Kayakers and canoers can experience the surrounding environment of the park first hand while they paddle along the canoeing trails on the lake. The lake is not the only body of water that campers can explore. Boaters can also access the canals in the park and the calm, black waters of Scuppernong River.
Fish are abundant in Lake Phelps during the summer season. You can catch a variety of fish, including largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, gar, catfish, pumpkinseed, and brim. The lake is about 26 miles around and roughly nine feet deep, with an average depth of 4.5 feet. This depth is ideal for wade fishers, who can enter the lake at the Pocosin Overlook. If you want to fish from the land, there is a lovely fishing pier by the Cypress Overlook. If you would prefer to fish on the lake, then you can use your kayak, canoe, or shallow-draft boat to do so. If you don't have your own boat, you can rent one at the park. Visitors can find excellent fishing along the shore of the Scuppernong River and other ponds throughout the park. You must have a fishing license to be able to fish at the park, and you will need to comply with the rules of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Birding is another popular activity at Pettigrew State Park. The park hosts birding events where visitors can see over 50 different species of birds, including the great horned owl, throughout the park. Birders visiting the park during fall and winter will see flocks of geese, swans, and other waterfowl as they roost and feed using the lake and the surrounding farm fields. Squadrons of tundra can be seen flying overhead from the first full moon in November. This park is the ideal destination for RVers who enjoy birding!
Pettigrew State Park has two picnic shelters for visitors to use. The picnic shelter on the north side of the lake by the park office has eight picnic tables, and the picnic shelter by Cypress Point has two picnic tables. Each picnic table has a grill, and there is a grass lawn for children to run around. A big grove of cypress trees provides ample shade for picnickers while they enjoy eating and socializing outdoors. Restrooms and water are situated close to the picnic area. Picnic sites are first come first serve unless they are reserved, which will require a fee.
Hiking and Biking
Pettigrew State Park has several trails that can accommodate both hikers and bikers. Visitors can explore the Cemetery Trail, the Bee Tree Trail, the Lake Shore Trail, the Moccasin Trail, and the Morotoc Trail. These five different trails range in length from 0.5 miles to 8.4-miles long. The trails are considered to be easy, and visitors will enjoy exploring them, whether on foot or on wheels. You can find some of the oldest trees in the coastal area along these trails. While out on the trails, hikers and bikers should apply bug repellent and keep an eye out for snakes. Make sure to pack enough water and take a hat along. Because North Carolina is hot and humid during the summer, the offseason is a great time to explore the trails.