Very few places are left where you can camp directly on the beach; Cape Lookout National Seashore is one such place. All camping within the park is primitive beach camping: there are no designated campgrounds. Groups of 25 or more require a permit for camping. Camping is limited to 14 consecutive days. Because it disturbs vegetation, do not camp on top of the dunes. For more information on camping in the park, visit our Beach Camping webpage.
Groups are welcome to camp with their vehicles; however, vehicles must be kept on the oceanside beach seaward of the primary dunes, not between or on top of dunes. Drivers must follow the regulations for off-road vehicles (ORVs) outlined on the Beach Driving section of the website. Vehicles are not permitted on Shackleford Banks. Parking permits are required for vehicles located in long-term parking lots. No vehicle may be left unattended for over 24 hours without a permit or in any area other than the long-term parking lots. For more information, visit the Long-Term Parking Permits webpage.
Permit Application Procedure
Requests for a permit application may be made in person at the Harkers Island Visitor Center or via telephone, email, or letter. The application form may be downloaded from the Special Use Permits webpage. A completed application and the non-refundable application fee are required before an application can be processed. Park contact information is:
The information on the application will be used by NPS staff to evaluate the impact of the proposed activity on park resources and visitors. Allow at least two weeks (10 business days) for processing. Requests which involve multiple locations, complex logistics, or coordination with other visitor activities will require a minimum of 15 working days to process. Projects which require environmental or cultural resource evaluation must be submitted not less than 30 days before the start of proposed activities. Applications are processed in the order in which they are received.
Applications will be returned to the applicant if submitted incomplete, cannot be approved as submitted, or are received without payment or without a social security or Federal Tax Identification Number. This greatly extends the time required to process your permit.
The following areas are restricted for camping (are generally not available for camping):
The authority for the National Park Service to recover and retain costs associated with managing special park uses is found at 16 U.S.C. 3a, 16 U.S.C. 460l-6d, and 31 U.S.C. 9701. Charges established for a Special Park Use under this authority are intended to recover costs associated with managing that activity and not to generate revenue beyond actual cost.
Application Cost: Must be submitted at the time of the initial application. This is a non-refundable payment.
Administration Cost: Payable when the permit is approved and prior to beginning the event. This is a non-refundable payment.
Federal procedures (31 USC 7701) requires your Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number on the back of all checks accepted for deposit. You must supply your Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number in order for your check to be accepted and your application to be processed.
Terms & Conditions
To maintain park natural and cultural resources and quality visitor experiences in addition to the standard terms and conditions, the following conditions and requirements apply to Special Use Permits for Group Camping:
Last updated: January 11, 2022