Camping / Northwest Florida / The Panhandle

RV camping at state parks in Florida’s Panhandle


St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

Pristine, white-sand beaches are the big attraction at many state parks in the Panhandle. (Photo/John Mayer)

Northwest Florida’s Panhandle has some spectacular state park campgrounds for RVers, and most are off the radar for snowbirds who fly towards Central and South Florida destinations during the winter months.

Summer is a different story. These parks are crammed when school lets out in nearby Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, giving the beaches in this glorious sugar-sand paradise a burst of tourism that rivals any coastal destination in the U.S.

Fall and spring may be the best time to go, when the weather is moderate and welcoming.

Franklin County Oyster Spat FestivalFrom mid-December until early March, weather is unpredictable, and the mercury can dip as low as freezing on some days. But taking chances has its rewards when the sun is shining with temps in the 70s and nobody else is around.  Be forewarned, Florida’s Panhandle sees occasional snow, though it’s very rare and quickly gone.

Fall brings a floodtide of seafood festivals to this region, starting with the Pensacola and Destin Seafood Festivals in late September and early October, and peaking with the Florida Seafood Festival in oyster-rich Apalachicola in early November.

You should definitely read Florida Rambler’s comprehensive Fall Guide to Seafood Festivals

The Panhandle’s state parks offer a wealth of outdoor recreation year-round – kayaking, off-road bicycling, hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and more.

All of these campgrounds accommodate both RVs and tents. Reservations can made up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica.  Walk-ins are accommodated at the ranger station, when sites are available.

If you are planning your trip in summer or around a local event, such as a seafood festival, book early. But even in busy periods, don’t assume these campgrounds are full without checking. Cancellations are frequent, especially if bad weather is anticipated.

Attention seniors:  Florida residents over 65 receive a  50% discount on camping fees at all parks, and all of these campgrounds accept pets. 

Here are the state parks in Florida’s Panhandle where you can set up your RV:

Big Lagoon State Park — Big for birders

Boardwalk and observation tower at Florida's Big Lagoon State ParkThis beachside state park is popular with birders, especially in fall. This park is a rest stop for birds who migrate across the Gulf of Mexico, bound for the Caribbean and Latin America. There’s a mile-long boardwalk and 3.5-mile nature trail where you can get up close and personal with your feathered friends. The campground has 75 sites with water, electricity, picnic tables and fire rings. There are two sprawling, white-sand beaches and a boat ramp. Excellent for kayaks and canoes, as well as boats of all kinds. Crabbing in the shallow waters of the lagoon is a popular activity in this 655-acre park. Pets are welcome in the campground.  Maximum RV length is 45 feet.

Big Lagoon State Park. 12301 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola. 850-492-1595

Camping Fee: $20/night.

Reservations: Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica

Official web site: www.floridastateparks.org/biglagoon/

Weather:  Current Forecast and Year-Round Climate Information

Blackwater River State Park — Paddler paradise

Paddlers at Florida's Blackwater River State ParkA favorite destination for kayakers and canoeists, this campground is nestled under tall pines just a short walk from the river. Hikers can enjoy more than 600 acres of undisturbed natural communities.  Enjoy the magnificent cedar stands along the river, including one of the largest and oldest white cedars in the eastern half of the nation. There are 30 RV campsites, each with 20-30-50-amp service, water, sewer hookups, picnic table and a grill.  Pets are welcome, and the maximum RV length is 45 feet.

 

Blackwater River State Park, 7720 Deaton Bridge Road, Holt, FL. 850-983-5363

Camping Fee:  $20/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica

State Park web site:  floridastateparks.org/blackwaterriver/

Weather:  Current Forecast and Year-Round Climate Information

 

Falling Waters State Park — Highest waterfall in Florida

The falls at Florida's Falling Water State ParkHuge trees and fern-covered sinkholes line the trail to Florida’s highest waterfalls, a 73-foot cascade that drops to the bottom of a sinkhole.  The campground is on one of the highest hills in Florida, at 324 feet above sea level (and you thought we had mountains!)  This is a peaceful park with scenic nature trails and a two-acre lake with a white sand beach. There are 24 campsites, each with electric, water, picnic table and a ground grill. Pets are welcome, and the maximum RV length is 40 feet.

 

Falling Waters State Park, 1130 State Park Road, Chipley, FL. 850-638-6130

Camping Fee:  $18/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at http://floridastateparks.reserveamerica.com/camping/Falling_Waters_Sp/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=FL&parkId=281021&topTabIndex=CampingSpot

State Park web site:  www.floridastateparks.org/fallingwaters

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

 

Florida Caverns State Park — Stalactite, stalagmite wonderland

The falls at Florida's Falling Water State ParkAttention spelunkers!  Florida really does have caves with stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies, and you can explore these dazzling underground caverns on a guided tour.  The nearby Chipola River offers ample opportunity for kayaking and canoeing, as well as fishing, and the park even features a nine-hole golf course!  Multi-use trails accommodate bicycles, hikers and equestrians (bring your own horse).  The 1,319-acre park has 35 campsites with electric and water hookups, as well as stables for horses.  Pets are welcome, and maximum RV length is 40 feet.

 

Florida Caverns State Park, 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, FL. 850-482-9598

Camping Fee:  $20/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica

State park web site: floridastateparks.org/floridacaverns

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

Grayton Beach State Park – Beautiful beach

Dunes at Florida's Grayton Beach State ParkThis 2,000-acre park embraces one of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S., a sugar-sand paradise that stretches for a mile along a peninsula between Destin and Panama City Beach. The park features a 4.5 mile trail for hiking and biking, and there’s a boat ramp where you can launch your canoe or kayak for paddling Western Lake.  A new campground loop has added 24 new sites with water, 50-amp electric and sewer hookups, bringing the total number of sites to 52. Both camping loops have restrooms with hot showers, although the restrooms in the old loop are closed until the end of the year for renovations.  The park also has 30 2 BR, 1 Bath duplex cabins that accommodate up to six people each, so invite your friends to spend a week or a weekend when you’re here.  Pets are welcome in the campground, and the maximum RV length is 40 feet.

Grayton Beach State Park, 357 Main Park Road, Santa Rosa Beach, FL. 850-267-8300

Camping Fee:  $24/night.  Cabins: $110-$130/night

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica.

State park web site: www.floridastateparks.org/graytonbeach

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

Henderson Beach State Park – Big dunes, white sand near Destin

RV campsite at Florida's Henderson Beach State Park.The sugar-white sand beach and convenient location near Destin shopping make this popular beachfront campground an attractive destination for RVers.  A nature trail winds through the rolling dune system.  Surf fishing is popular here, and the catch includes pompano, red fish, flounder, catfish, whiting and the occasional cobia. The campground has 60 sites with a mix of back-in and pull-through sites.  All sites have water and electric (some 50-amp), picnic tables, ground grills and clothesline posts.  The restrooms with showers have heating and AC, and coin-operated washers and dryers are available to campers.  Pets are welcome, and maximum RV length is 45 feet.

Henderson Beach State Park, 17000 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin, FL. 850-837-7550

Camping Fee:  $30/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica.

State Park web site: www.floridastateparks.org/hendersonbeach

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

Ochlockonee River State Park – Great for paddlers, wildlife

Boat launch at Florida's Ochlockonee River State ParkSouth of Tallahassee, this park is at the junction of the Ochlockonee and Dead Rivers, just a short distance from where they dump into Ochlockonee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, making this an excellent paddling destination.  A boat ramp provides easy access to the river, and you have access to both fresh and saltwater fishing.  Wildlife is abundant, and you’ll find rare snow-white squirrels, as well as the rare Sherman’s Fox Squirrel throughout the park.  The park’s 30 campsites are nestled in a shady, wooded forest, and each site has water and electric hookups.  Nature trails run along the river.  Pets are welcome in the campground, and the maximum RV length is 40 feet.

Ochlockonee River State Park, 429 State Park Road, Sopchoppy, FL. 850-962-2771

Camping Fee:  $18/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica.

State Park web site: www.floridastateparks.org/ochlockoneeriver

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

 

Rocky Bayou State Park – Down on the bayou (and the bay)

Boat launch at Florida's Rocky Bayou State ParkAccess to Choctawhatchee Bay and saltwater fishing make this park attractive to boaters and paddlers who want to explore the bayou.  Kayak rentals are available in the park. The campground is located near three beautiful nature trails, each taking you into a different community of plants and wildlife.  A fitness trail is also onsite. There are 42 spacious, shady sites with water and electric, picnic table, and some have water views.  A modern bathhouse is both heated in winter and cooled in summer.  A laundry and vending machines are also located in the campground. Pets are welcome, and the maximum RV length is 40 feet.

Rocky Bayou State Park, 4281 State Road 20, Niceville, FL 850-833-9144

Camping Fee:  $16/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica.

State Park web site: www.floridastateparks.org/rockybayou

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

St. Andrews State Park – Beautiful beach, large campground

Aerial view of Florida's St. Andrews State Park.With its proximity to Panama City, in the heart of the Redneck Riviera, you can just imagine how crowded this beachfront park can get in summer. But the rest of the year it is all yours to enjoy swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and canoeing. There are two fishing piers, a jetty and a boat ramp.  Two nature trails offer opportunities for birding, especially in spring and fall. There are 176 sites on two campground loops, each with water and electric, picnic tables and grills. There are five restrooms with showers, and a laundry facility is available in the campground. Pets are welcome at campsites, and the maximum RV length is 45 feet.

St. Andrews State Park, 4607 State Park Lane, Panama City, FL. 850-233-5140

Camping Fee:  $28/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica.

State Park web site: www.floridastateparks.org/standrews

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

 

St. George Island State Park – All beach, and lotsa oysters

The beach awaits you at St.George Island State ParkMy favorite state park in the Panhandle, St. George Island State Park is on the east end of the barrier island that frames Apalachicola Bay, one of the most productive oyster beds in the world. Miles of pristine, white-sand beaches await your for swimming, sunbathing, shelling and beachcombing. Two boat ramps on the bay side offer access for canoes, kayaks and small boats. And you are close enough to the commercial fishing port of Apalachicola to enjoy fresh fish, especially oysters, at any time of the year.  Each of the 60 campsites has electric and water hookups with a dump station nearby.  Six sites have concrete pads, and the rest are hard-pack sand. The campground is tucked behind rolling dunes, less than a quarter mile from the beach. Warning: These sites can get very hot in spring and summer! There are two restrooms with hot showers, and nature trails meander through nearby pine forests and coastal scrub. Pets are welcome in the campground, but not the sprawling beach, and the maximum RV length is 43 feet.

St. George Island State Park, 1900 E. Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island. (Near Apalachicola)

Camping Fee:  $24/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica.

State Park web site: www.floridastateparks.org/stgeorgeisland

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

 

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park – Best beaches!

The shoreline along St. Joseph Bay at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.Oh, my!  These beaches are unbelievable, and they consistently rank among the best in the nation.  The park offers 10 miles of white-sand beach and some of the tallest sand dunes in the state.  You can launch your kayaks and canoes from the beach, or from the boat ramp on the bayside.  There are three hiking trails, including the 6-mile Wilderness Preserve Trail that meanders through 1750 acres of an unspoiled coastal eco-system that is bustling with wildlife.  Swim in the Gulf or the bay. There are two campgrounds with a total of 119 sites, each with 30-amp electric, water, a picnic table and fire ring, and all are just a short walk to the beach.  The Shady Pines campground has more shade.  Pets are welcome in the campground, but not on the beach or other day-use areas.  Some sites can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet, but most are much smaller with individual limits. Eight cabins are available for $100 a night overlooking St. Joseph’s Bay.

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, 8899 Cape San Blas Road, Port St. Joe, FL 850-227-1327

Camping Fee:  $24/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica.

State Park web site: www.floridastateparks.org/stjoseph

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

Three Rivers State Park – Fish, fish, fish; Paddle, paddle, paddle

The campground at Florida's Three Rivers State Park.The convergence of the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers forms Lake Seminole, the setting for this quiet park on the Florida-Georgia border renowned for its fishing.  Shallow-water boats are smartest because the lake is, well, mostly shallow.  Enjoy five miles of nature trails, and more than seven miles of trails and paved roads for bicycles in semi-rough terrain and moderate elevation changes.  Just north of Interstate 10, the park is easily accessible for RVers, and at $16 a night, it’s bargain-priced.  There are 30 shaded, fairly private campsites on the bank of the lake, each with water, electric, a picnic table and grill ring. There are restrooms and a dump station nearby.  The campground includes a small boat ramp and large fishing pier. Pets are welcome, and the maximum RV length is 42 feet.

Three Rivers State Park, 7908 Three Rivers Road, Sneads, FL. 850-482-9006

Camping Fee:  $16/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica.

State Park web site: www.floridastateparks.org/threerivers

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

 

Topsail Hill Preserve – Beautiful beaches, resort-style campground

RV site at Florida's Topsail Hill State State ParkTowering sand dunes surround more than three miles of pristine white-sand beach and encompass two freshwater lakes at this sprawling 1,600-acre state park on a barrier island west of Panama City Beach.  Although boats are not permitted in the dune lakes, you can fish from shore for bass, bream, panfish and catfish. A tram service will carry you between the beach and the campground, which has a swimming pool and shuffleboard courts.  There’s even a campground store and a cable TV connection at each site!  Each of the 156 campsites has water, 30 and 50-amp electric, cable and sewer hookups.  Restrooms with showers have both heat and AC, and laundry facilities are available to campers. There’s also a tent area with 22 sites on elevated pads with a fire ring, water and electric. The park also has 30 bungalows and cabins,.  Pets are welcome, as are big rigs up to 45 feet in length.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL. 850-267-8330

Camping Fee:  $42/night. Bungalow and cabin rental: $100-$145/night, depending on season.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica.

State Park web site: www.floridastateparks.org/topsailhill

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

Torreya State Park – Fall color, high river bluffs

Fall colors can be seen at Florida's Torreya State ParkOne of the state’s most scenic parks, this state park sits on high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River (which starts out as the Chattahoochee River in Georgia).  Hardwood forests make this Florida’s prime destination for fall color, and nature trails will take you deep into the forests or along the river bluffs, which are as high as 150 feet above water level.  One trail loop is seven miles long and takes you through all of the park’s eco-systems.  The park’s 30 shaded campsites have water and electric hookups, and there’s a free-standing YURT that accommodages five.  Primitive camping is also available at three locations. Pets are welcome in the campground, and the maximum RV length is 40 feet.

Torreya State Park, 2576 NW Torreya Park Road, Bristol FL. 850-643-2674

Camping Fee:  $16/night.

Reservations:  Call (800) 326-3521 from 8 am to 8 pm, or book online at ReserveAmerica.

State Park web site: www.floridastateparks.org/torreya

Weather: Current forecast and year-round climate information

 

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