Camping at Kerr Lake NC

We have spent the last couple of months getting set up in Raleigh. It’s been super intense and way more challenging than I anticipated.

I actually can’t believe how difficult it has been to get financially set up here and move from the Australian tax system to the US system. It feels like I’ve spent at least an hour every day trying to work through banking and money transfer issues.

It stressed me out so much that I even started putting in my bank account details incorrectly to receive income or make payments.

On top of that, we had a spam email attack with someone trying to bring down our reputation online. So I was dealing with trying to stop them and a mass of irate emails each day.

And I had a lawyer give me a cease and desist email for my other website and what was called 30 Day Money Cleanse. It seems money cleanse was trademarked by someone else.

While I could have argued the case I decided to just change it. So it meant a whole new website and design, new branding, and recreating the course material to suit the new brand and design.

But, my new 30 days to Money Mindfulness website looks and feels so much better!

All of this was building up an intense desire to go camping. I wanted to get into the forest and find my breath again.

I posted this quote on Instagram recently:

I really do think the stillness of the forest is where we find our answers. Where we find our peace and the strength we need to reboot and grow again.

Camping at Kerr Lake, NC

Sunset at Kerr Lake, North Carolina

Because we spend so much time together, we wanted to go camping with friends, especially for the girls.

Thankfully, our good friends from Durham were keen and we headed out to Kerr Lake in North Carolina for four nights of camping bliss.

Camping with friends Kerr Lake

Kerr Lake, NC is where our friends camp all the time. It’s only an hour from where they live in Durham and they have a boat moored at the Satterwhite Marina at Kerr Lake.

It’s an easy getaway for them and is what we often recommend to people wanting to travel more but struggle to find ways to fit it into their lives.

Start local. Explore your local area. Take short getaways. Go camping.

Work out what it is you want to get out of the travel and then seek that in the closest, cheapest and easiest way you can.

I just wanted rest, relaxation, to connect with friends and to get close to nature. Camping at Kerr Lake, only 90-minutes from our home in Raleigh, was the perfect solution for our short getaway.

Serenity at Kerr Lake, NC
Serenity at Kerr Lake, NC

We’re so lucky that Raleigh is an area that is close to so many amazing getaway destinations.

It’s one reason we chose it as our base. Raleigh is halfway between New York and Florida, 90 minutes to the Carolina coast, 4 hours to the mountains and is surrounded by forests and lakes.

Buying new camping equipment

The girls were ecstatic to go camping with friends. We were so excited to head to the stores and buy some camping equipment.

There are so many options and you can go really crazy on prices, but we decided to keep it simple and cost effective and get only the essentials from Wal-Mart and Dicks Sporting Goods rather than REI.

We purchased everything we needed for the same price as one tent at REI.

However, if we needed a tent for long-term camping and durability we would buy one of the more expensive ones at REI as they have great quality and return policies.

But our Ozark family trail tent from Wal-Mart is a good one. It sleeps 10, is easy to put up and we got it on sale for $97 –  a bargain! We’ll share a list below of the camping equipment we got.

What about our camping spot right on the edge of Kerr Lake?

Satterwhite Point campsite Kerr Lake NC

We haven’t had a camping spot this great since camping on the beach on Zanzibar Island in Africa. Four steps out the door and we were in the most beautiful water you’ll ever see.

This was just as good, and lying in bed at night looking at the stars from our bed was pretty amazing.

By the way, this was a camera free holiday. One we rarely make. We weren’t even going to write about our camping trip to Kerr Lake, but because it was such a wonderful hidden unplugged secret we discovered we decided to share.

Because that is what our America Unplugged trip is all about.

However, it means all our photos and video footage was taken on our Samsung Galaxy 8 phones – which really do a great job.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding at Kerr Lake, North Carolina

Oh, and the video footage was put together by the QuikStories app by GoPro. Seriously love it. It’s free, so easy to use, and is highly intuitive in putting together the footage. Must be AI technology or something. It will blow your mind.


Are you a member of our Unplugged Travel Tribe? You’ll receive a free toolkit full of resources to help you unplug from the chaos, follow your bliss, travel more and create better memories.

Click to access the Unplugged Life & Travel Toolkit!

A bit about Kerr Lake, North Carolina

camping with friends Kerr Lake
Oops. Kinda didn’t care about the rule here. I think on the water its different

Kerr Lake is the biggest lake in North Carolina. Surprisingly Kerr Lake is pronounced as Car Lake.

It’s an artificial lake built as a dam and water reservoir and stretches across the North Carolina border into Virginia. Kerr Lake NC is also known as Buggs Island Lake, which was the original name.

In Virginia, you will still see signs for “Buggs Island Lake.” And even the state agency that regulates fishing calls it Buggs Island Lake. That’s the Virginia law!

At its maximum capacity, Kerr Lake, or Bugg Island Lake, is one of the largest reservoirs in the Southeastern United States. The lake has over 850 miles of shoreline and covers approximately 50,000 acres and is 300 feet above sea level.

Kerr Lake State Recreation Area is a North Carolina State Park, which means certain rules, like no alcohol, apply! Can you believe it? No alcohol while camping. That’s like having smores with no chocolate!!

Just get creative. Coffee tumblers work well. You did not hear it from me, and be aware, if discovered, you could lose your alcohol or get kicked out.

Now to the fun we had on Kerr Lake!

Knee boarding on Kerr Lake, NC

I love how travel pushes you out of your comfort zone.

It forces you to try new things, to test your boundaries to discover your strengths and find your inner power.

I couldn’t help but think of this the minute Kalyra jumped off the boat to get on the knee board.

Confident and ready to nail it.

I’ve tried knee boarding before on the same knee board of the same boat in the same body of water. In fact on the day we were doing it, Facebook memories popped out with a photo to remind me of that day that had happened 8 years before.

I could not get up on the knee board.

Kalyra got up straight away. I was stunned. Watch:

What I love most about traveling with my kids is the way they continue to surprise me with what they are capable of. They have the opportunity to try so many different things.

I’m inspired by the ways they embrace it and how talented, confident and strong they really are. What a gift to spend every day discovering this about your children.

It wasn’t just Kalyra that nailed it though, the other kids got up first go too and had a wild time. Kids can just do things effortlessly right?

It was wonderful to see them all interacting and having so much fun out on the water, especially at sunset!

Tubing on Kerr Lake, NC

Tubing and camping Kerr Lake NC

Whereas Kalyra is my child who will dive straight in and give something a go, Savannah is our very cautious child who waits until she’s observed enough to feel comfortable.

Even then she’ll be timid and clingy and will only try in small bites.

That was her on the tube. She started by playing in it on the water’s edge, then asked to have a turn sitting in it with Mummy, “But only slow.”

If we went any slower the boat would have stopped, but the wind carried her screams right up to the captain,

“Stop. I want to get off. That was terrifying!”

Then on the last day, she decided to have another go. This time we went a little faster and further. She screamed the entire time but at least she pushed her comfort zone out a little bit and she was glad she did it.

Tubing Kerr Lake North Carolina

We spent every day out on the boat tubing with stops for swimming and ice cream at the marina.

Fishing on Kerr Lake, NC

Fishing and camping Kerr Lake North Carolina

One of our friends, Anne and her two sons brought some fishing rods so the kids spent a morning learning the art of patience from the banks of our beach.

Anne is a keen fisherwoman so we let her teach the kids how to do it.

I loved fishing when I was younger, spending almost every day of the summer doing it down the waterfront, but now I can’t stand it.

The girls didn’t last too long, but at least they had a go. Savannah didn’t catch anything like this barra she caught last year!

Fishing at Kerr Lake, North Carolina

Anne spent a couple of evenings under the moonlight fishing for catfish from the beach and from the back of the boat in the beach shallows.

Savannah joined her one evening off the back of the boat while the rest of us watched and chatted and enjoyed our coffee mug drinks.

Swimming on Kerr Lake, NC

Satterwhite Point campsite Kerr Lake NC (13)
Our private beach!

I can’t tell you how much I love lake living.

The water is still and calm. The shores are usually blanketed in forests – in North Carolina, usually sweet smelling pine. And lurking underneath the waters are ZERO monsters!

No sharks, no crocodiles, no jelly fish.

To dive off the edge of the boat with 300 feet of water underneath you and not have to worry about getting your legs bitten off is so liberating!

Needless to say, we spent a lot of time swimming in Kerr Lake. Off the shore from our campsite and wherever we wanted to stop the boat for a break and a cooling off swim.

Followed by ice creams at Satterwhite Point Marina.

Swimming at Kerr Lake, North Carolina

Swimming at Kerr Lake, North Carolina

camping Kerr Lake NC

Ice Creams at Satterwhite Point Marina, Kerr Lake, North Carolina

We had a lot of toys for the kids to enjoy: floatable rafts and toys, stand up paddle boards, and kayaks. The kids loved spending the day with each other playing in the water – they’ve all got the tans to show for it.

Kayaking on Kerr Lake NC

If the tube wasn’t something Savannah could master, kayaking was. She was having a ball kayaking and knee stand up paddle boarding from the shore.

Kayaking on Kerr Lake, North Carolina

The kids were determined to paddle over to the other side of the lake from our campsite at Satterwhite Point on the kayak and SUPs.

It was quite the distance and involved crossing over the boat traffic channel so we weren’t allowing them to go until the last day when the lake was quiet.

Savannah was not going to be left out. She watched the others go back and forth and was determined to experience this grand adventure for herself.

She jumped in the small kayak and off she went with Craig and I trailing behind. She made it all the way over to kayak amongst the trees on the other bank. She was so proud of herself.

Kayaking on Kerr Lake, North Carolina

Kayaking at Kerr Lake, North Carolina

Kayaking on Kerr Lake, North Carolina

My favorite moment was when we were about 50 meters from shore, and she yelled out,

“I can’t quit now. We’re almost there!”

She made it and got halfway back before we tied her to the back of Craig’s kayak and towed her back. It was a fun adventure and one she could claim some bravery for herself.

Sunsets on Kerr Lake, NC

Sunset and camping Kerr Lake North Carolina

As a friend of our friend, Rina once told her,

“You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a sunset on Kerr Lake.”

Rina packed us into the boat at 8 pm every night to ensure we did not miss the sky as it moved from yellow to orange to pink.

Of course, we threw the tube and knee board into the water to do a little sunset tubing and knee boarding.

Cruising around the water on sunset watching the kids have so much fun and seeing that glorious sun setting brought me such joy and happiness (while I sipped on my coffee cup!)

Sunset Kerr Lake North Carolina

Sunset tubing on Kerr Lake, North Carolina

Sunset boat ride on Kerr Lake, North Carolina

Sunset tubing on Kerr Lake, North Carolina

Kerr Lake Camping

Kerr Lake offers hundreds of wooded tent and trailer campsites, many of them on the water’s edge.

We stayed at two of the eight campsites on Kerr Lake, Nutbush and Satterwhite Point both of which are open year round. Site number 38 at Satterwhite point is where we had our tent set up right by the lake!

Nutbush Campground

Nutbush camping Kerr Lake NC
Before I knew about the no alcohol rule!

On the first night, we camped at Nutbush near the bridge. We decided to move the next day as we didn’t like the campsite as much as what was on offer at J.C. Cooper Campground at Satterwhite Point. It was way better.

We camped the first night at Nutbush as Satterwhite was booked out.

The Nutbush campsite is fine, but not as wooded as J.C. Cooper.

Camping at Nutbush Campsite, Kerr Lake, North Carolina

At Nutbush we were camped on the side of the bridge where boats could not get through due to the low bridge. You can bring your boat in via car to the Nutbush campsite and load into the lake from there. But, our friend’s boat was moored at Satterwhite Point Marina so couldn’t get through.

What’s the point of camping on Kerr Lake if you can’t go out on your boat?

Satterwhite Point camping

Satterwhite Point campsite Kerr Lake NC

Satterwhite Point campground had campsites in wooded areas right on the lake that were really large and quite private. We only had neighbors on one side and they were a little behind us so it felt like we had the lake to ourselves.

Not only did we have the space for our friend’s RV but we had all the open area in front of us right down to our private beach where we could pitch our tent.

Camping at Kerr Lake, North Carolina

The only problem was that the amenities were a little further away.

I loved the serenity of the campsite and the wilderness feel while still providing us with camping luxuries like water and electricity.

How should we do our full-time road trip next year?

It’s certainly got us thinking about how we can best do our US road trip.

Spending time with our friends with their camper trailer was a great insight. I think we definitely need some sort of RV. The decision is what size RV and whether we tow a camper trailer RV or have a motorhome and tow a small car!

I could do tent camping for some time, but I’d need super organization and great solutions for a portable office space and for inclement weather. I do think the RV solution would be best.

I definitely want the flexibility and freedom of camping, the ease of being able to stop wherever, and the close connection to nature. You just feel better when you remove the four walls.

Funny that, isn’t it?

Camping recipes

Satterwhite Point campsite Kerr Lake NC (13)

Smores are a must.

Smores, yum!

If you don’t know what a smore is, here’s how you make a smore.

  1. Pop a marshmallow on a stick and roast it
  2. Put a piece of chocolate on the bottom of a graham cracker
  3. Stick the marshmallow on top of the chocolate
  4. Close it with a graham cracker
  5. Let the heat melt the chocolate and devour the smore
  6. Have ‘smore!

Want a gluten free version – use a banana instead of a cracker. Oh, my! Sooo much better than a graham cracker.

Here are some more camping recipes for you to try.

A few of our family camping equipment favorites

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do you like tubing and kneeboarding? We had a fun few days camping with friends at Kerr Lake North Carolina. It's a top spot for a family camping getaway

Tubing, Knee Boarding and Sunset Fun Camping at Kerr Lake NC
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