Special Use Permit - Camping (Groups)

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.

Obtaining a Group Camping Permit
In order to obtain a group camping permit, you must first fill out an application. Download the application that is appropiate for your group size, fill out with your information, and email a copy to CALO_SUP@nps.gov.

Application for 25 to 49 Group Camping Permit
Application for 50 or more Group Camping Permit

After sending your application, you will be contacted within 7-10 business days to collect payment. Once we receive your payment, a permit will be emailed to you for a signature. 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.

Note: If you are unable to fill out application digitally, you may print application, complete, and scanned copy to CALO_SUP@nps.gov. If you are unable to submit the application digitally, call Harkers Island Visitor Center (252) 728-2250 to request an application to be mailed to you.

Please indicate the specific location on the application. The Special Use Permit does not allow your camping activity to restrict other park visitors from your chosen location nor does it guarantee you a specific site.

The following areas are restricted for camping (are generally not available for camping):

  • Harkers Island Visitor Center / Administrative Site
  • Portsmouth Village
  • Cape Lookout Light Station complex
  • Cape Village (including the Cape Lookout Coast Guard Station)
  • Property held under private lease
  • Great Island and Long Point Cabin areas
  • Long Term Parking areas

Cost Recovery

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.

For camping groups with 25 to 49 people, there is a $50 application fee. Applicants do not have to pay an administrative fee for camping permits with 25 to 49 people, totalling to $50. For camping groups with 50 people or more, there is a $50 application fee and a $50 administrative fee, equaling to $100.

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.

Monitoring Cost: If the event requires NPS supervision for resource protection or the health or safety of visitors, the cost* will be estimated and payable when the permit is approved and prior to beginning the event. The scope and complexity of the permit activity will determine the level and type of supervision. The fee includes employee travel time to and from the event location.

*Generally a $50.00 per hour per monitor charge is the rate for monitoring.

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.

Last updated: January 29, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

131 Charles St
Harkers Island, NC 28531


252 728-2250

Contact Us