Last updated on January 27th, 2020 at 02:12 pm
Camping is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Fort Lauderdale.
The center of South Florida’s coastal urban sprawl, Fort Lauderdale is the epicenter of oceanfront resorts, beautiful beaches and offshore fishing.
Hidden in the trees are a few prime public campgrounds that meet our “best” test for RV or tent camping.
Broward County Public Campgrounds
Markham ParkA full-service regional park near the entrance to Alligator Alley, Markham Park offers a broad range of recreational opportunities, including a radio-controlled airplane field, a gun range, dog park, hiking and 10 miles of biking trails, fishing, boat launches, a tennis center with racquetball, volleyball, a swimming pool complex and a “mist” pool.
Despite South Florida’s flat terrain, the bike trails are often steep with switchbacks and rough and tricky surfaces. Bike rentals are available in the park. For hikers, there is a 1.5 mile nature trail.
The renovated campground has 88 sites with full hookups for RV and tents, picnic table and fire ring or grill. The campground has two restrooms with showers. Wi-Fi is available in the campground area.
Campsites are $40 for non-residents and $30 for residents Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade). A two-day deposit is required. There is a pet fee of $1 per pet, up to two pets.
The boat ramp provides access to the L35A perimeter canal that buffers the park from the Everglades Conservation Area, and there’s a system of interconnected lakes, including a 26-acre lake for personal watercraft and another set aside for water skiing. A second boat ramp provides access to the New River Canal, which parallels State Road 84. Canoe and kayak rentals are available.
At night, visit the Fox Observatory every Saturday night from dusk to midnight for stargazing.
Markham Park, 16001 West State Road 84, Sunrise, FL, 954-389-2000 for campground reservations and park information. Shooting range: 954-389-2005. Web site: broward.org/Parks/MarkhamPark
C.B. Smith ParkBest known locally as the home of the annual KISS Country Chili Cookoff, held each year on the last weekend in January, a good weekend to avoid this park if you’re looking for a peaceful urban getaway.
Like most parks in the Broward County park system, C.B. Smith is geared towards family activities and features a water park with multiple waterslides, including two small waterslides designed for youngsters under 5. For older children, there are five waterslides, including the 450-foot slide and 410-foot tube slough. Admission to the water park, Paradise Cove, is $9.50 per person.
Other recreation amenities include batting cages, a golf driving range, tennis center, playgrounds and fishing lakes.
The campground has 71 paved RV sites with water, sewer and electric, picnic tables and grills. Restrooms have heated showers and laundry facilities. Wi-Fi is available in the campground. Campsites are $40 for non-residents and $30 for residents of Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. A two-day deposit is required for reservations. There is a fee for pets.
CB Smith Park, 900 N. Flamingo Road, Pembroke Pines, FL, 954-357-5170 for camping reservations and park information. E-mail, email@example.com Link to CB Smith Park: https://www.broward.org/Parks/Pages/park.aspx?park=5. Download campground map.
T.Y. ParkAn urban oasis in the heart of Hollywood with shady picnic areas and, like the other Broward County parks with campgrounds, a large water park with waterslides, a swimming pool with waterfalls and a “kiddie” playground.
There is a snack bar, concession stand and “marina” with boat rentals on weekends, a two-mile paved multi-use path for biking, hiking and skating. Bicycle rentals are available on site. You’ll also find basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, a large covered playground and several smaller playgrounds scattered around the 139-acre park.
Although neat and clean, the campground has a “plastic,” barren parking-lot feel to it, although it makes up for it with location, location, location. It’s close to I-95 (maybe too close) with easy access to Hollywood, Dania Beach and Fort Lauderdale’s beaches, as well as the commuter rail line that serves the coast from Miami north to West Palm Beach.
The campground has 61 paved RV sites with full hookups (water, sewer, electric), grills and picnic tables. A restroom building includes hot showers and a laundry. Campsites are $40 for non-residents and $30 for residents of South Florida’s tri-counties (Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade). Reservations are required. There is a pet fee of $1 per pet, and a maximum of two pets are permitted per site.
T.Y. Park, 3300 N. Park Road, Hollywood, FL, 954-357-8811 for campground reservations and park information. Web site: broward.org/Parks/TopeekeegeeYugneePark
Easterlin ParkBroward County’s most heavily wooded campground, and the focus of this park is its natural areas, not water parks, lending itself to its designation as an Urban Wilderness Area. A Woodland Nature Trail winds about a mile through the park’s cypress forest.
While the park is small at 47 acres, its size is deceiving because there is so much vegetation, making for a pleasant respite from the bustle of South Florida.
The campground features 55 sites, including 45 with full hookups (water, sewer and electric) and 10 tent sites with water and electric only. Seven of the RV sites are pull-through. Picnic tables and grills are on all sites, and there is a dump station near the exit. Two restrooms include hot showers. Wi-Fi is available only in the main office area.
Campsites are $40 for non-residents and $30 for residents of South Florida’s tri-counties (Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade). A two-night deposit is required. There is a pet fee of $1 per pet, and a maximum of two pets are permitted per site. (Proof of rabies vaccination is required).
Easterlin Park, 1000 NW 8th Street, Oakland Park, FL, 954-357-5190 for campground reservations and park information. Web site: broward.org/Parks/EasterlinPark
Quiet Waters ParkYou must use their tents, which are already set up on platforms, and all but five sites are waterfront. There are 25 tents and two tepees, each with water, electric, a fire ring, picnic table and grill. There are two restrooms with hot showers convenient to all sites.
The big draw at Quiet Waters is cable water skiing at Ski-Rixen, but the park also has a 7-mile network of paved multi-use trails and challenging mountain bike trails with segments for everyone from beginners to expert riders that wrap around the park’s five lakes.
Quiet Waters took a big hit during Hurricane Wilma, the center of which passed right over the park, and a huge swath of trees and vegetation was ripped out of the ground, leaving much of the park barren, compared to what it once was.
Volunteers piled into the park to rebuild the mountain bike trail with new landscaping, new structure and adding new trails under the guidance of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. There is a staging area at the trailhead with parking and picnic tables.
There is also – surprise! – a water park with a sandy beach on one of the park’s freshwater lakes. Adjacent to Ski Rixen, which occupies another lake, is a 20,000 square foot Skate Park for skateboarding, inline skating and BMX biking, open only on weekends. The Skate Park features more than a hundred ramps and grind trails.
A third lake, perhaps the most scenic of them all, is home to a marina where you can rent canoes, kayaks, jon boats and paddleboats. You can also bring your own canoes and kayaks and launch on a nearby grassy “beach” with nearby parking.
Campsites are $35 per night for up to four campers. The 10-by-10-foot tents sleep six, so two additional campers can be accommodated for an additional $3 each. A security deposit of $35 is required, and up to two pets are permitted per site for a fee of $1 per pet. Firewood, kindling and ice are available at the park office, which is adjacent to the campground.
Quiet Waters Park, 401 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach, FL, Call 954-357-5100 for tent reservations and park information.
Everglades Holiday ParkPerfect destination for an Everglades experience close to Fort Lauderdale. The park operators offer airboat rides, live alligator shows and boat ramp access to some of the best freshwater fishing in the state.
Once private, the park has been taken over by Broward County Parks and Recreation.
The campground includes 100 sites for RVs, with water, electric and sewer hooks, and 36 tent sites. Reservations for the winter months should be made well in advance. (Plan now for next year.) Call for rates.
Everglades Holiday Park, 21940 Griffin Rd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33332 Phone: 954-357-8101 (park management currently based at Markham Park) Web site: Everglades Holiday Park
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Bob Rountree is a beach bum, angler and camper who has explored Florida for decades. No adventure is complete without a scenic paddle trail or unpaved road to nowhere. Bob co-founded FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross 12 years ago.