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Bull Creek Campground: Humble fish camp with charm in western Flagler County

Bull Creek Campground was never on my radar. I’d bet it’s not on yours, either.

But with state parks booked at full capacity much of the year, I’ve been on a mission to seek out alternatives, public campgrounds with modest daily rates, and I’ve come across a few gems.

Flagler County’s Bull Creek Campground is easily overlooked. It’s remote, on a lake few know about, and hard to find without GPS.

Maybe that’s why we loved it.

bull creek fish camp campground sunset
The sun sets behind our RV in the campground at Bull Creek. (Photo/Bob Rountree)

On our visit, there was a glorious sunset every night. Some say the campground offers the finest sunsets in Flagler County.

The night sky sparkles, and you are truly in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by classic Florida wetland forests and sprawling farmlands.

A restaurant at the campground suffered irreparable flood damage from two hurricanes in 2022 and has been demolished.

For kayakers and boaters, every campsite is waterfront.

The namesake Bull Creek is a pleasant, scenic paddle, though not an exhaustive experience. For an open water paddle, Dead Lake is right there, and adventurous paddlers can traverse the Dead Lake to Crescent Lake and even beyond to the St. Johns River, 20 miles by water.

Dead Lake got its name because, historically, it was a dead end, the last stop of steamboat cruises on the St. Johns River, diverting into Crescent Lake to a channel into Dead Lake. The campground was once the site of a hotel, where the steamboats would dock during the land boom of the early 20th Century.

bull creek hotel
A hotel serving steamboat passengers on the St. Johns River once occupied the area around Bull Creek Campground. (Photo courtesy Flagler County Historical Society)

Despite being in the thick of the land boom, there is minimal development in the area close to the campground, at least by today’s standards, and you are 14 miles from the nearest town, tiny Bunnell. Another nine miles down the road is Flagler Beach, an Old Florida beach town.

The Campground at Bull Creek

All 25 campsites are waterfront on level concrete slabs and have full hookups, a picnic table and a fire ring.

You can moor your kayak, canoe or small boat at any site. If you find the banks tricky, and you might, use the park’s wide boat ramp.

There is ample parking for boat trailers, and docks are available in a small marina near the boat ramp.

Best of all, when I looked ahead on the campground’s reservation website, there were plenty of openings for next winter (2023-2024).

bull creek campground
A busy weekend at Bull Creek Campground. (Photo/Flagler County Parks)

There are three distinct campground sections for your recreational vehicle and/or tents.

Boat Ramp Sites

bull creek fish camp
Sites 1-10. The travel trailer is on Site 1. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Sites 1 through 10 are closest to the park’s boat ramp. (Site 1 is at the top in the above map, directly adjacent to the boat ramp.) These sites are not overly spacious, but they are adequate for slide-outs and awnings. More suited for RVs than tents.

These 10 sites are near the boat ramp and trailer parking, and the ramp gets busy on weekends.

On weekdays, school buses use the park for staging, their diesel engines idling for 10 minutes or more before moving out on their rounds. The park is also a convenient turnaround for other vehicles roaming these remote roads. The campground does not have a gate, and the traffic, although not terrible, could be a problem if you’re a light sleeper.

An Island Pod

bull creek fish camp sites 11-13.
Campsites 11-13 have a grassy common area. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Sites 11, 12 and 13 are on their own little peninsula with large, grassy common area for tents and toys, surrounded by water on three sides.

These sites would be perfect for small groups of friends or multiple families, if you can book them together at the same time.

The sites are set back from the park road just enough to afford a degree of privacy.

The Peninsula

bull creek fish camp
Sites 14-25 are near the entrance to the park but somewhat isolated from the rest of the campground. All of the sites are waterfront. That’s my travel trailer on Site 18. The campground was practically empty on my visit this Spring. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Sites 14 through 25 are on a larger peninsula off to the side of the park, set back from the park entrance road, providing a semblance of isolation and quiet from park activity.

Although all of the sites have concrete pads for RVs, there are grassy areas for tents at all of them.

We had our choice of all but one site during the week and chose Site 18 (Site 1 was taken). We originally booked Site 3 but found it easy to change by calling Flagler County Parks Department the morning after we arrived during office hours. They were very accommodating.

The experience of camping at Bull Creek

When I think of a fish camp, it’s usually a pretty rough environment for a camper or for pitching a tent, the primary attraction being fishing from a boat, not camping. Few, if any, hookups, and often not well-maintained.

But Bull Creek defies the vision. I liked it a lot for camping, kayaking and fishing. It was clean and well-maintained, and full hookups are often a deciding factor for owners of recreational vehicles.

The water hookups, however, bear a warning: Non-potable water.

Bring bottled water for drinking and your coffee pot, which we always do anyway.

A park employee told me the water is untreated well water, so they couldn’t recommend it for drinking water. But he said it’s fine for showers and bathroom use. We also felt comfortable using it to wash pots, pans and dishes, although it’s probably best to fill your RV’s storage tank with fresh water before arriving here.

I’m an early riser, so the two school buses that turn around in the park every weekday morning, and the early-morning boat launchings, didn’t bother me. Late sleepers near the boat ramp might have a different story to tell.

bull creek fish camp campground
Our paddle from the campground took us up Bull Creek. We launched from our campsite. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Bull Creek Campground is the perfect setting for kayakers (canoes & paddle boards) as well as fishing boats, and it serves anglers well as a family destination, not just a weekend for “the boys.”

We especially appreciated the ability to launch our kayaks directly from our camp site, and we took advantage.

The campground is on a large lake, where you can enjoy an open-water paddle.

The campground’s once-popular restaurant, Bull Creek Fish Camp, was irreparably damaged by flooding after Hurricanes Ian and Nicole in 2022. The county, which owns the campground, has no plans to replace it.

Bull Creek Campground, 3861 County Rd 2006 W, Bunnell, FL 32110. 25 RV sites with concrete pads, hookups for electric, sewer, non-potable water. (Bring your own water for drinking; hookup should be fine for showers.) Bathhouse available. Rates: Winter/Spring (12/1-5/31) $35, includes tax; Summer/Fall (6/1-11/30), $25, includes tax. Reservations up to a year in advance at flaglercounty.gov or call (386) 313-4020 during office hours.

Note: When I checked dates online for next winter, there were plenty of openings.

Haw Creek Preserve and Russell Landing

Down the road about three miles is the Haw Creek Preserve, which includes a state park, a county park and the Haw Creek boat ramp at Russell Landing.

There’s a raised nature boardwalk at Russell Landing that winds deep into a scenic cypress swamp, branching off at four points to observation decks along Haw Creek.

The boardwalk trailhead is next to the boat launch, where you’ll also find pavilions and picnic tables.

bull creek haw creek preserve boardwalk
The Haw Creek boardwalk branches off for views of the creek. The trailhead is at Russell Landing. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

To get to Haw Creek Preserve and Russell Landing from Bull Creek Campground, take the main entry road, County Road 2006, three miles east to an unpaved road on your right (County Road 2007). Turn right and follow the signs about 2 miles to Russell Landing.

Paddling Haw Creek

Haw Creek flows downstream from Russell Landing is a scenic four-mile paddle through the Haw Creek Preserve State Park to Crescent Lake, a 30-square mile body of water that feeds into the St. Johns River.

Paddlers can continue into Crescent Lake’s 17-mile paddle trail, or turn into the entrance canal to Dead Lake, where you can return to the Bull Creek Campground at the north end of Dead Lake.

Be forewarned these large, open-water lakes offer little shelter from the wind, other than along the shoreline, and strong winds are not uncommon, as we experienced during our visit.

For an out-and-back sheltered paddle from Russell Landing, try going upstream and immerse yourself in an amazingly quiet sub-tropical landscape alive with wildlife.

The upstream paddle gives way to multiple branches, which are ripe for exploration.

haw creek near bull creek campground
Haw Creek, upstream from Russell Landing. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

We were unable to paddle Haw Creek this trip, but vow to return. Meantime, I’ll share these two accounts to better prepare for your visit: Paddling.com and FloridaPaddleNotes.com.

For a detailed review of the boardwalk nature trail, visit FloridaHikes.com.

Things to do near Bull Creek Campground

Bull Creek is in a remote corner of western Flagler County on a country road surrounded by farms, but you can get to the beach in about 35-40 minutes.

The closest beach is in Flagler Beach, an old Florida beach town, or Gamble Rogers State Park, which boasts a beachfront campground.

Finn's Beachside Bar in Flagler Beach
The ocean view Finn’s Beachside rooftop bar in Flagler Beach. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Other nearby adventures could include a visit to Destination Daytona (35 minutes), a motorcycle-themed shopping plaza with restaurants and motorcycle dealers.

Continue on a little further to the Ormond Scenic Loop and explore several historic sites along a scenic trail for cruising.

Another nearby destination worth visiting is the Princess Place Preserve, a Flagler County Park with miles of hiking trails, rental cabins and a historic site with an intriguing story.

Places to Eat Near Bull Creek Campground

There’s nothing very close to the Bull Creek Campground, so stock your camp box or RV pantry before you go.

We prepared and ate most of our meals at our campsite, but we did drive into Bunnell to buy supplies at Ace Hardware and stopped at Hot Diggity Dogs for lunch (15 miles from Bull Creek). Loved the hot dogs and the menu choices, even the crude outdoor picnic tables. Parking was tricky, so you might avoid peak lunch hour.

Another popular foodie destination in Bunnell is the Bantam Chef, which has more than 2,000 rave reviews on Google for its legendary fish sandwich. I’m not sure how we missed it, but you can be sure we’ll try it on our next visit to the area.

We met friends one night for dinner in Palm Coast (17 miles from Bull Creek), where you’ll find a typical suburban assortment of fast food joints, restaurants and cafes. (We ate at Olive Garden, not very adventurous but reliable.)

A few miles down the road in Flagler Beach, we consistently recommend the seafood and oceanfront dining offered by High Tides at Snack Jack on State Road A1A.

On past visits to the area, we have enjoyed pub food at Saints and Sinners Pub in the biker-focused Destination Daytona complex, about 25 miles from Bull Creek.

Other campgrounds you might like:

Beach camping: Huguenot Memorial Park in Jacksonville

Phipps Park Campground in Stuart ideally suited for family outings

Camping with the Corps: Clean, orderly, nicely landscaped

Lithia Springs: Camp at this cool, secluded park near Tampa

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ROBERT REED

Tuesday 27th of February 2024

Caution: according to the Flagler county website (2/26/24) tent camping is no longer permitted. I was just about to reserve 5 nights when I read the fine print.

N. Johnson

Thursday 29th of June 2023

some great info, thanks!

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