I have always wanted to camp among the Cypress and Tupelo trees in eastern North Carolina. The Roanoke River Partners have made this possible years ago by building and maintaining camping platforms along the Roanoke River, located in northeastern NC. I finally made the trip out to see what the platforms were all about!
A friend and I made a reservation for the Beaver Tail camping platform and arrived during middle of a hot June Saturday. The river is secluded and beautiful, and once leaving solid ground at the launch spot, we did not again see solid ground until arriving at the marina the next day. Severe thunderstorms greeted us at the launch spot (a private launch off of US-64), and we used radar to decide when to drop the boat in. Our timing worked out perfectly and we were soaring along Gardner Creek towards Devils Gut, where the platform was located. The paddle was extremely scenic as we paddled through the trees growing in the water, and we saw a number of blue herons, egrets, and other large birds.
After a couple hours of paddling we arrived at the platform, and the first view was mystical and surprising. No land in sight! Hovering over water between the Cypress and Tupelo trees was a boardwalk, camping platform, and private changing area. Fish were jumping around the platform, and the sounds of owls hooting and beavers slapping the water could be heard all night long. I slept in a hammock made by Yukon Outfitters, equipped with a bug net, rain tarp, and inflatable pillow.
Many people have asked me about the bugs and mosquitos, and basically the bugs were occasionally thick near marsh-like areas along the river. Once arriving at the platform surrounded by water, I just used some bug spray on my feet and didn’t have too many more issues. After settling in, we took a night paddle out to the open water to watch a nearby thunderstorm. I slept a good 7 hours in the hammock before waking up for sunrise.
I saw and heard more wildlife camping here than anywhere I have camped, and the overall jungle-like atmosphere seemed otherworldly. There are dozens more platforms for me to paddle to and I will be returning as soon as I can!
A big thanks to VisitNC for giving me this assignment, and Yukon Outfitters for providing the hammock and drybags. I rented the kayak from Get Outdoors, which has hundreds of kayaks and is located in Greensboro.
Below are maps of my route and the Beaver Tail & Beaver Lodge Platform location. Also shown are paddle maps provided by the Roanoke River Partners.