Guide To Budget Camping At Oyster Point Campground (Cheap East Coast Camping!)

Aerial View of Oyster Point Campground in the Croatan National Forest

Camping in the great outdoors can be a wonderful way to escape the stress of modern life and immerse yourself in nature.

However, finding affordable and accessible campgrounds on the East Coast can be a bit tricky.

Situated on the banks of the Newport River in North Carolina, Oyster Point Campground is a budget-friendly option that offers a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of the natural world while still being close to all the attractions of the Crystal Coast and nearby National Seashore.

This guide provides everything you need to know about a memorable and fulfilling stay at Oyster Point Campground!

About Oyster Point Campground

Oyster Point Campground is located in the Croatan National Forest in eastern North Carolina, near the town of Newport. Sitting on the Newport River (part of the Intercoastal Waterway), the campground offers towering Loblolly Pines, water views, and river access from both a boat ramp and many sites.

Fairly centrally located, Oyster Point makes for the perfect home base to explore North Carolina’s Crystal Coast and the Cape Lookout National Seashore while nestled in a secluded forest away from the more crowded beachfront areas.

RV camping at Oyster Point Campground near Newport, NC
During our stay in March, most weekdays we had the campground all to ourselves!

Map & Local Attractions

This map includes the location of Oyster Point Campground as well as other great things to do outdoors in the area that we found most fulfilling during our stay including:

  • Emerald Isle Beach & Atlantic Beach (40 minutes)
  • Fort Macon & Fort Macon State Park (32 minutes)
  • Beaufort, NC (25 minutes)
  • The Cape Lookout National Seashore (including Cape Lookout & Shackleford Banks) – ferry departs from Harkers Island (36 minutes)
  • The boardwalk trails at Cedar Point Campground (another great National Forest camping option in the area that has some hook-ups and amenities)

Camping at Oyster Point Campground

RV camping in site #11 at Oyster Point Campground in the Croatan National Forest
Our 5th wheel in site 11

Turning off the main road onto a tree-lined gravel road with nothing but forest in sight is reminiscent of some of our favorite boondocking experiences in the western U.S. Instantly you feel like you’re being transported worlds away from everyday modern life to a place in nature where the rhythm is slower and the passing of time is marked by sunrises, sunsets, and campfires rather than meetings and deadlines.

Oyster Point Campground is the perfect escape for the part-time camper or RVer looking to explore the Crystal Coast away from the crowded beach towns, or the full-time traveler looking for a quiet place with beautiful views to work and explore for a while.

Location: Forest Road 181, Newport NC, 28750

  • You will enter onto a long gravel road after turning off SR 1154. It is narrow but well-maintained and will lead you back to the campground, boat launch, and Neusiok Trailhead.
wide angle view of the entrance to Oyster Point Campground in the Croatan National Forest
Entrance to Oyster Point Campground

Campground Details & Amenities:

  • 15 sites for RVs or tents with a picnic table, fire ring with grill grate, parking area, tent pad, and lantern post. As of our visit in March 2023, most sites had brand-new metal picnic tables and upgraded fire pits!
  • 2 vault toilets
  • All primitive sites (no hook-ups available)
  • Generator use okay outside of quiet hours
  • No dump station is available
  • Water spigots available around the campground
  • Boat launch (no vehicle access); best for canoe/kayak launching
  • There is a camp host available on-site (Tanya) and she is amazing and very friendly!

Cost: $10/night for single sites (8-person limit); $20/night for double sites (16-person limit)

Reservations: Online through or by calling 877-444-6777

  • There is only one first-come first served site (site 06) available for walk-ins. Scan & Pay for first come-first served sites will add up to an additional $1.00 per day to process electronic payment. All other sites must be booked in advance
  • Reservation can be made up to 180 days in advance and must be made at least 3 days in advance
  • 50% off discount available for America the Beautiful Senior and Access pass holders

Additional Information:

  • You can camp here in larger RVs, just be prepared to hit some low-hanging branches at the campground entrance. They will not do any serious damage but may create some scratches
  • Quiet hours 10 pm-6 am
  • 2 dog limit
  • 14-day stay limit in a 30-day period
  • Campground can be impacted by hurricanes and is also closed each year for prescribed burns
  • Campground can get buggy so bug spray is recommended

Internet & Connectivity: Oyster Point Campground is not Starlink-friendly due to the number of trees. We were able to work well with consistent and fast download and upload speeds with both T-mobile home internet and our Verizon data plan.

Best Sites: Our 40-foot fifth wheel and long bed dually fit perfectly in site 11. We had plenty of room and could walk to the water right from our site! Other sites with paths to the water include 15, 13, 9, and 7. Be sure to check the details of each site carefully to make sure it will be adequate for your RV or camping setup.

Path leading from site 11 at Oyster Point Campground in Croatan National Forest to the bay. You can see sunlight dancing off the water.
Path to the water from our site (site 11)

Campground Map

Oyster Point Campground map
Oyster Point Campground Map

Campground Trails & Activities

Boat launch at Oyster Point Campground in the Croatan National Forest
Boat Launch (no vehicle access)

With its riverfront location and boat launch, Oyster Point Campground is a great place for a variety of water activities including:

  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Boating
  • Fishing

In addition, this campground sits within the 160,000 acres of the Croatan National Forest and at the trailhead of the 21-mile Neusiok Trail. The Neusiok Trail is part of the larger 900-mile Mountains to Sea trail that begins at Great Smokey Mountains National Park and ends at Jockey Ridge State Park in the Outer Banks.

Neusiok Trailhead information signs in the Croatan National Forest
Neusiok Trailhead. There are locals who advertise ride services back from the other end of the 21-mile trail

If you are not up for the entire 21-mile Neusiok Trail, it is easy to hike sections of it from the campground while winding through tall vegetation, past marsh, and through Loblolly Pines, all while enjoying sparkling water views. We found this trail to be the perfect place for further seclusion after a long work day where we could stretch our legs and appreciate the sounds of birds chirping overhead and grasses swaying in the coastal breeze for some time. Nature is healing and we love staying in places that make it easy to get out on a trail after the work day.

Orange pine needles cover the Neusiok trail and tall green pines line the sides. A beautiful, serene national forest.
The Neusiok Trail can be explored in small loops from the campground

Check out other great trails in the Croatan National Forest on AllTrails!

Fulfilling Travel Tips

DRV Mobile Suites dry camping at Oyster Point Campground in the Croatan National Forest

After spending an entire year out west and falling in love with the ease and freedom of boondocking, we were admittedly a bit apprehensive about camping on the East Coast. With the need for reservations made well in advance, tighter and smaller campgrounds, and almost no BLM camping, we were prepared to embrace a different kind of camping experience.

With hope and optimism, we set out to find as many campsites as possible on the East Coast that would accommodate our larger RV, still give us the feeling of being surrounded by nature, and not totally break the bank. With dedication (including setting alarms to book State Park and National Forest Campgrounds the day the reservation window opened) and some luck, we were able to score some amazing places to stay.

At $10/night, Oyster Point Campground might be the closest we get to free camping on the East Coast. While it is primitive, or dispersed camping, you really can’t beat the water views, nature-filled atmosphere, and great location for exploring North Carolina’s Crystal Coast and the southern portion of the Outer Banks (including the Cape Lookout National Seashore).

So our tip for this article is to keep an open mind and take the steps to create the experiences you want. You’ll stay open to the experiences and opportunities you can have in places that you might have otherwise missed if you stayed closed off to what they have to offer. In addition, there is beauty and value to stumbling upon adventures and being flexible and allowing experiences to unfold wherever each new day brings you. Some of our greatest memories do come from those unexpected journeys and we hope to continue to have those throughout our travels. This being said, being able to take steps to create the experience that would bring you the most joy is a valuable skill.

Staying in State Parks and National Forests during your East Coast adventures is a great way to continue to immerse yourself in the healing powers of nature. It might take a bit more planning than out west to secure reservations, but we believe it is totally worth it for the opportunity to bring nature right outside your door.


  • Make campground reservations at least 3 days in advance (the earlier the better if you want a longer stay that includes weekend days)
  • If you are towing or driving a larger RV, use an RV-safe GPS like RV Life to navigate to the campground and avoid some of the really narrow roads through the local towns
  • Bring a Generator for RV use (solar can be hard to come by among the towering pines; our Generac definitely came in handy)
  • Insect repellant
  • Bring a portable waste tank if you will need to empty tanks during the duration of your stay. There is no dump station available at Oyster Point, but there are a few other local options. Check out Sanidumps for more information.
  • Bring a water bladder if you will need additional water during the duration of your stay (and don’t want to move your RV)
  • Bring your kayak, paddleboard, canoe, and/or fishing rod. With the water right outside your door, there are plenty of activities available to enjoy in nature!

Couldn’t snag a spot at Oyster Point? Consider these other Croatan National Forest Campgrounds: Cedar Point Campground or Flanners Beach Campground

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