Skip to Content

J. B. Starkey Wilderness Park: Vast refuge for tent campers with rustic cabins and no RVs

J. B. Starkey Wilderness Park flies under the radar for most people planning Florida trips. It’s not a state park and it’s not near a population center.

But this 18,000-acre water-management preserve provides a special environment. It’s vast and wild. The tent sites are widely spaced in the woods and there are even rustic cabins you can rent quite cheaply. There are no RVs.

Hiking abounds and a seven-mile paved bike trail through the forest connects to the 42-mile Suncoast Trail. It’s perfect for families (and, really, all cyclists) because there is no road crossing in the park.

There are also many trails suitable for mountain biking and horseback riding.

Hawks, turkeys, owls, deer and other birds and wildlife are often seen.

The park is far enough from a metro area and big enough to provide darks skies for excellent stargazing.

The seven-mile paved bike path in Starkey Wilderness Park encounters no crossroads, just wilderness. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The seven-mile paved bike path in Starkey Wilderness Park encounters no crossroads, just wilderness. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Camping and cabins at Starkey Wilderness Park

There are 16 shaded campsites set in mature woods with restrooms and showers and a small shelter but no hookups for electric or water. Water spigots are spotted around the campground for sharing. 

There are three rustic hike-in back-country campsites.

There are also eight cabins available to rent with bunk beds accommodating up to eight people. Each bed has a mattress, but bring your own bed linens or sleeping bags.

Typical tent campsite in J B Starkey Wilderness Park. RV's are not allowed. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)
Typical tent campsite in J B Starkey Wilderness Park. RV’s are not allowed. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)

The cabins have a table and chairs and electricity to power an exhaust fan and a single electrical outlet. Cook outdoors on the charcoal grill or bring your own stove. There is a picnic table outside.

The cabins have screen windows only, so prepare for heat or cold if that’s the weather predicted.

On our day-trip visit to the park on a winter weekday, most cabins were unoccupied and several tent sites were available. (The park’s facilities see more use on weekends.) A steady flow of bicyclists, however, took advantage of the trail.

Cabin at J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Cabin at J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

In addition to providing recreational opportunities, the preserve protect water quality by acting as a natural filter of surface water as it flows across the landscape into the Pithlachascotee River and its main tributary, the Anclote River.

starkey-park-map

Water also filters into the ground, acting as a recharge area for a well field that supplies drinking water to the greater Tampa Bay area.

One of the appealing cabins at J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park. These visitors brought a screen structure to cover the picnic table. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
One of the appealing cabins at J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park. These visitors brought a screen structure to cover the picnic table. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

More things to do at Starkey Wilderness Park

The park regularly holds events, such as Audubon-led nature walks, wild flower walks, mushroom walks, stargazing nights and children’s programs. Check the park’s Facebook page for details.

The park has a well-equipped playground, volleyball court and horseshoes.

Equestrians will be find a 10 miles trail, which is also popular with hikers.

Mountain bike trails at Starkey Wilderness Park.
Mountain bike trails at Starkey Wilderness Park are extensive and popular. The Swamp Mountain Bike Club updates its Facebook page with trail info.

STARKEY WILDERNESS PARK
10500 Wilderness Park Boulevard, New Port Richey, FL 34655. 
Admisssion is free.

Cabins are $50 per night. Maximum length of stay is 7 nights. Tent campsites, $15/night; three primitive backpacking campsites, $10/night. Reservations up to 30 days in advance online. For information, call (727) 834-3247.

Although pets are allowed in day-use areas, they are not allowed in the campground or cabins.

Reservations are accepted up to 30 days in advance online.

starkey wilderness park Starkey trail planets J. B. Starkey Wilderness Park: Vast refuge for tent campers with rustic cabins and no RVs
A fun addition to the paved trail is the “planet walk.” Each sign is placed at a distance from the sign for the sun proportional to the actual distance between the sun and that planet’s orbit. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

What’s near JB Starkey Wilderness Park

Here are other destinations in the region about which Florida Rambler has written:

Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park: Kayak to stilt houses, hike to small springs

Dunedin: Delightful biking, breweries, beaches and more

Tarpon Springs: Visit dazzling island of Anclote Key on boat from Sponge Docks

Pinellas Trail, the most popular bike trail in Florida

Best camping near Tampa Bay: 9 choice campgrounds


All articles on FloridaRambler.com are original, produced exclusively for our readers and protected by U.S. Copyright law. Any use or re-publication without written permission is against the law. Read more: floridarambler.com/licensing

This page contains affiliate links from which Florida Rambler may earn a small commission if a purchase is made. This revenue supports our mission to produce quality stories about the authentic Florida destinations at no cost to our readers.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.