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Camping/Outdoor Recreation

Would you like to take the "Great Urban Escape?" McDowell Nature Preserve offers a wide variety of camping and outdoor recreation opportunities. McDowell Campground has 56 campsites ranging from RV to Primitive sites. Group camping is available at Copperhead Island just a few miles up the road. 

Campsites may be reserved seven days a week. Unreserved campsites are available on a first come, first served basis. Reservations can be made by calling 704-583-1284 between the hours of 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday – Sunday. Reservations made over the phone must be paid in full with a Visa or MasterCard.

McDowell Nature Preserve offers 1108 acres of peace and quiet. You can hike seven miles of trails or fish from numerous piers and platforms.

Visit McDowell Nature Center and learn about native plants and wildlife.  

McDowell Nature Preserve is just 6 miles from Carowinds Theme Park. 

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Campground map

McDowell Nature Preserve
15222 York Road
Charlotte, NC 28278

Campground Information 
Campsites may be reserved all year, seven days a week. The campground gate is open 7 a.m. - sunset.

Rent-a-Tent Sites (T1 -7):
T1 includes Cabin
$36/night – County resident
$46/night – Non-County resident

Primitive Sites (P1-10):
$15/night – County resident
$19/night – Non-County resident

Recreation Vehicle (RV) Sites (R1-13):
$26/night – County resident
$33/night – Non-County resident

Drive-To Sites (D1-26):
$19/night – County resident
$28/night – Non-County resident

Extra Fees:
Firewood: $5/bundle
Ice: $2/bag

RV (R) and Drive-To Sites (D) 

  • Fire Rings with Grills
  • Picnic Table
  • Water (RV = On Site) (Drive-To = Shared)
  • Electricity (RV = 50amps) (Drive-To = 30amps)
  • RV Sites = R1-R13, Drive-To = D1-D26

Rent-a-Tent Sites (T)

  • 12'X12' Tent - Sleeps 5-6 people
  • Fire Ring with Grill
  • Picnic Table
  • Water (Shared)
  • Electricity = 30amps
  • T Sites = T1 - T7

Primitive Sites (P)

  • Fire Ring and Picnic Table
  • P Sites = P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, P6, P7, P8, P9, P10

Accessible Camp Sites

  • D14, D15 (Drive To)
  • T1, T4 (Rent-a-Tent)


  • Leisure camping only. Maximum stay is 14 days per visit. You can return to camp again after 14 days. Check-In time is 2:30 p.m. Check-Out time is 2:00 p.m.
  • The Nature Preserve is not accessible after sunset.
  • Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6ft at all times. Pet owners must have updated proof of rabies (paperwork and tag), and you must be with your pets at all times. No pets are allowed in Rent-a-Tents.
  • Patrons using Rent-a-Tent and RV sites may set up 1 additional 2-person tent (space-permitting). Drive-To sites are limited to a 6 person capacity. This may include combinations of 2, 3, or 4 person tents.
  • Alcoholic beverages, drugs, firearms, and fireworks are strictly prohibited. 

  • No swimming or wading is allowed within preserve boundaries.
  • Campfires are permitted only in designated fire rings. Do not leave fires unattended. Mecklenburg County Park  and Recreation Department reserves the right to ban campfires in unsafe conditions.
  • Only one vehicle (separate or towed by an R.V.) is allowed at each site. There is overflow parking across from the Information Booth at the entrance of the campground.  All vehicles and bikes must stay on paved roads and parking lots at all times. Trails are for foot traffic only.
  • Quiet Hours are from 10 p.m. - 7 a.m. daily.
  • Sites must be maintained in an orderly manner. Please dispose of trash and recyclable materials in their proper receptacles or dumpsters. Please be responsible and "pack out what you have packed in." To discourage    raccoons and other animals, please store food inside vehicles, RV's or a secure container. Please do not feed any wild animals.

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Copperhead Island
15200 Soldier Road
Charlotte, NC 28278

Park Hours:
7 a.m. - Sunset (Daily)

Entire Island Rental:
Entire Island rental includes Picnic Shelter (80 person capacity), 6 tent sites, Volleyball Court, and Horseshoe Pits
    County resident $196
    Non-County resident $316    Weekday
    County resident $134
    Non-County resident $210


  • All N.C. state regulations apply.
  • No bank fishing is permitted after the Preserve is closed.

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