You might think it’s challenging to get outside and enjoy the wilderness near the big city of Raleigh but think again! There are many opportunities to find some solitude and inspiration in the variety of parks scattered throughout the area. North Carolina’s climate allows for year-round enjoyment, so go for a hike with your favorite canine companion, take the family on a bike ride or go for a paddle around the lake. No matter what your outdoor passion, Raleigh has a nice variety of natural experiences. Let’s introduce you to our top four favorite natural wonders in and around Raleigh.
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
Lake Jordan is a breathtaking 14,000-acre reservoir with a long list of exciting ways to celebrate the outdoors, like swim beaches, boating ramps, and campsites including RV hookups. Take an easy stroll along 14-miles of hiking trails that meander through the hilly shoreline, and embrace opportunities to view the region’s wildlife. Lake Jordan is the most popular summer home of an American icon, the bald eagle. If you’re lucky, you might get to see one!
Join Park Rangers for Heritage Day on the first Saturday in October, and celebrate the area’s natural resources with a free festival highlighting hands-on activities and exhibits. Find the visitor center at 280 State Park Road in Apex, 24-miles west of Raleigh. Jordan Lake’s park is open year-round, with day passes starting at 8 a.m.
Eno River State Park
Just 35.6 miles from the city, you’ll come across the Eno River. With five access points, opportunities for outdoor activities abound from fishing and boating to hiking and bird watching. Every outdoor enthusiast will find something to enjoy at Eno River State Park. Celebrate the 4th of July weekend at the Festival On The Eno with live music, food, and artisan exhibits. The park is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday until 8 p.m., and weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve
Hemlock Bluffs is located 14.4 miles from Raleigh in Cary. Submerse yourself in nature at this captivating 140-acre preserve. Enjoy nearly 3 miles of trails, perfect for a quiet stroll and gentle reflection. Sketch, photograph, or meditate while you study the area’s wild resources like the preserve’s namesake Hemlock trees, and the Swift Creek. Choose from a variety of centrally located Raleigh hotels that make it easy and convenient to visit the area’s natural wonders, like Hemlock Bluffs. The gates open at 9 a.m., and the preserve closes at sunset, so don’t sleep in!
North Carolina Botanical Garden
Find your inspiration at the University of North Carolina’s Botanical Garden located just 27.4 miles from downtown in Chapel Hill on 100 Old Mason Farm Road. Free to the public, the garden’s mission is conservation and to advance a sustainable relationship with nature. Over 1,000 acres, you’ll explore display gardens, breathtaking flowering plants, and the Piedmont Nature Trail system.
No matter how you find your outdoor inspiration, a visit to Raleigh won’t disappoint.