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Hanging Rock State Park Camping North Carolina

Hanging Rock State Park Camping North Carolina

Camp North Carolina: I’m talking with Robin today. She’s the Park Superintendent at Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina. Robin, why don’t you get us started with a little bit of history on Hanging Rock State Park?

Robin: Okay. Well, the history of the Park goes back to a billion years ago, but I’l fast forward to the–

Camp North Carolina: Yeah, that’s a little bit outside the scope of the interview this morning.

Robin: Yeah. I’ll fast forward to the 1930s, when the property of the Park was donated to the State and the Civilian Conservation Core were the first people here to start building facilities in the Park. And so, they built a lake in the mountains and they built a beautiful stone bathhouse from the Native stone found here in the Park. The quartzite. They built their own work facilities. Their buildings where they had class and had supper, and things like that, where they lived in their barracks. And they built trails to scenic overlooks. There are tons of beautiful bridges and things in the Park, and so that is the beginning of the Park.

And then, later on, they had other plans of building lodges and things like that, that were discontinued because of the war breaking out. But the main thing they built was a road that could actually get people up here into the mountains before it was very treacherous to get here. So, that made it more easy for people to get here.

Camp North Carolina: Okay.

Robin: And things have changed a lot since then of course.

Camp North Carolina:You said they built a lake in the mountains. I need to hear more about that. That’s really intriguing.

Hanging Rock State Park Camping North Carolina
Waterfalls can be spotted at Hanging Rock State Park

Robin: So, they constructed an earthen dam. The Park is like – the whole Park is contained in this – I guess, geologically speaking, it’s one mountain, but it looks like several peaks now the way it’s eroded. But in the middle, it’s like a basin, and it would’ve been a natural place for a lake. So, they built an earthen dam, you know, from the rock that they cored here, and beautiful stonework around the dam and whatnot. So, it contains all the, you know, waters coming out of the mountains. So, all the water in the lake is pristine water. There’s no human interference or anything in that watershed. It’s just completely contained within the Park, and now it has a swim beach.

People go fishing there. We rent canoes and rowboats there. It’s a 12-acre lake. And so, as you’re swimming at the lake and boating, all around you, you’re in a basin with beautiful mountains all around and that beautiful, historic, stone bathhouse.

Camp North Carolina: That sounds really amazing.

Robin: It’s paradise.

Camp North Carolina: Wow. Wow. So, okay. What types of camping do you offer there then?

Robin: So, there are 73 campsites. There are two shower houses, so you’re always within walking distance of your shower house. We don’t have any sites with electricity, but we do have water spickets for every few sites going up and down the road. So, at each site you have a level area that’s outlined with timbers so you can tell exactly where the sites are. You have a fire ring on a concrete pad, and a tent pad – a tent area -, and a picnic table. So, all the sites you drive up to. You don’t have to, you know, backpack into them. And they stay pretty busy during the summer. We definitely recommend reservations now, and we have a website and a toll-free number for that.

Camp North Carolina: Okay. What are the most popular activities in the Park?

Robin: Hiking, by far, is the most popular because there are two main spots. One is the actual hanging rock, which is the rock feature. If you see any publication or pictures of hanging rock, you see people on the gigantic rock, and it’s got a little more than a mile walk to this beautiful rock outcropping, where you get up on there and you can see in every direction, you know, just forever.

Hanging Rock State Park Camping North Carolina
Hiking is a popular activity at Hanging Rock State Park

Camp North Carolina: I’m looking at a picture of that right now, and there’s some people sitting at it with their legs dangling over the edge, making me nervous.

Robin: Yeah. When I’m up there, I’m not nervous. When I see other people do it, it makes me nervous. But you’re free to find your own little spot up there and look at the view from every direction. And as you look down, you know, you see the distant mountains of Virginia far off, and closer you can see the Winston Skyline on good days and you can see Pilot Mountain and other mountains that are nearby, and the world looks like a quilt down below you. It has tobacco field and different fields, and then patches of woods, and it’s just a really, really amazing view.

Camp North Carolina: It looks stunning.

Robin: Yeah. The other favorite spot is the tower on top of Moore’s Knob, which was part of a fire tower that was constructed by the CCC guys in the ’30s. And you know, we don’t need fire towers anymore, but we have changed the design of the tower so that people can still walk up there as a viewing platform. And that’s even higher and even more of a 360-degree view from up there.

Camp North Carolina: Okay. Now, what are some other attractions in and around that area?

Robin: So, we have the Dan River, which is nearby. And actually, part of our Park connects to the Dan River, and we have a boating access there, but it’s kind of a lesser-known spot. So, the Dan River is a beautiful, real slow, shallow river. It’s really popular for tubing and for kayaking and canoeing. Real scenic. There are rock cliffs on one side of the river, and so it’s kind of a spot that people don’t see unless they’re actually in a boat. And then, part of our Park, on one side of Moore’s Knob Mountain is Moore’s wall climbing access, so rock climbers come from, you know, several states away to come rock climb there. And it’s kind of an undiscovered, beautiful – I don’t know -, forest of boulders. There are some as big as cars and houses, and it’s really something.

Camp North Carolina: Sure.

Robin: There’s a lot of neat things in Stokes County also, surrounding. There are a lot of people involved in art. There’s a neat art council here. And tourism is growing a little bit. There’s a zip line place nearby, so there’s lots of neat things coming up. Some golf courses and things also nearby.

Camp North Carolina: Okay, great. Two more questions for you, Robin.

Robin: Okay.

Camp North Carolina: If you were going to spend just one hour at Hanging Rock State Park, how would you spend your time there?

Robin: One hour, oh boy. Well, if I had one hour, what I would do is I would go to this place called Lower Cascades. It’s a hiking trail we have. It’s a short trail. It’s only about – well, it’s less than half a mile one way, so it’s about a mile both ways. But you walk down to a beautiful waterfall and, when you get there, you feel like you’re in a room of waterfall, and it’s really stunningly beautiful. And beautiful forest. You have neat overlooks along the path and whatnot. It’s not a hard trail. There are some steps, but if I had one hour, that’s something you can’t miss.

Camp North Carolina: Amazing. And if you could spend just one night at Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina, which specific site would you stay at and why?

Hanging Rock State Park Camping North Carolina
Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina is a great destination to visit

Robin: Oh, I like site 72, because it’s the last site on the row and it’s close to our lake. There’s a little kind of a road path that people have made from that site to the lake behind you. You’re right in the center of the Park, so you’re close to the trailhead for Moore’s Wall. You’re close to the trailhead for Hanging Rock and all the other trails. You can walk from your campsite to anywhere, and it’s just, like I said, on the end of the road, so you’re away from the neighbors a little bit and it’s flat and nice and beautiful, and quiet, and that’s what I would do.

Camp North Carolina: Perfect. Well, thank you for those tips, Robin, and thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to talk with us about Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina.

Robin: Well, I’m happy to death to talk about my Park, so thanks.

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