Camping in the Linville Gorge Wilderness in North Carolina just got easier with the implementation of a new reservation system starting April 3, 2023. The new system is designed to help maintain solitude and protect the wilderness character of the area, while also ensuring that visitors have access to the popular camping areas within the designated Wilderness boundary.
The new reservation system will go live on Recreation.gov and will allow visitors to make advanced reservations for Linville Gorge Wilderness Overnight Permits starting at 10 a.m. ET on April 3, 2023, for trip dates beginning May 1, 2023.
According to the National Forest Service in North Carolina, an overnight camping permit is needed on weekends from May through October to maintain solitude consistent with Wilderness character. Permits are only required for overnight camping within the designated Wilderness boundary, and there are no designated campsites within the Wilderness. The permit system is based on the total number of people camping per night and does not require reserving a campsite. Permits are not needed for day use, roadside camping, or camping on Table Rock.
The Linville Gorge Wilderness was designated by the United States Congress in 1964 and now has a total of 11,653 acres. The Wilderness Act defines wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
The Linville Gorge is a rugged, steep-walled gorge that encloses the powerful Linville River for approximately 12 miles, dropping a dramatic 2,000 feet before leveling out in the Catawba Valley. Iconic rock formations along the eastern rim include Sitting Bear, Hawksbill, Table Rock, the Chimneys, and Shortoff Mountain. Trails are mostly difficult, and the terrain is challenging and remote. Cell service is limited.
Visitors to the Linville Gorge Wilderness must adhere to additional requirements to maintain Wilderness character, including prohibitions against machine-powered (motorized) equipment and wheeled (mechanized) travel – this includes bicycles, carts, chainsaws, and drones. Removal of rocks or vegetation from the Wilderness is also prohibited. Visitors are required to practice leave-no-trace at all times. Group size is limited to 10 people, and length of stay is limited to two nights (three days).
Permits are required to camp within the Wilderness on Friday and Saturday nights from May through October. On 3-day holiday weekends, permits are also required for Sunday night camping. Permit quotas will allow for a total of 50 people per night, with 70% of the quota (35 per night) available one month in advance. The one-month window opens on the first day of the previous month at 10 a.m. ET. For example, permits for June are available on May 1st at 10 a.m. ET, all permits for July are available on June 1st at 10 a.m. ET, etc.
Last-minute permits are also available for reservations three days in advance. These permits are reservable on a separate page found on the National Forests in North Carolina website. Last-minute permits are available for reservations each Wednesday at 10 a.m. for the coming weekend.
The new reservation system for Linville Gorge Wilderness Overnight Permits is designed to make camping in the area more accessible and help maintain the natural beauty and wilderness character of the area. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and make their reservations early to ensure they have the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Linville Gorge Wilderness.