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Best campgrounds near Daytona — plus some awesome secrets

Fishing pier on the nature boardwalk at Lake Ashby Park.
Fishing pier on the boardwalk at Lake Ashby Park.

We favor campgrounds down the road and behind the trees, well-hidden and friendly to wildlife.

The best Daytona Beach campgrounds are found in nearby state, county and national parks, wildlife refuges and forests.

At key times of year, particularly when events are scheduled at Daytona International Speedway, you can expect every campground within 100 miles will be packed, public or private, requiring year-ahead planning.

Your odds are better if you avoid Daytona during popular events unless, of course, you want to be there.

State park campgrounds

State park campgrounds top our list, but they are hard to get in winter months and during major events at Daytona International Speedway. Plan ahead, up to 11 months in advance, to get a campsite.

Tomoka River State Park — RV and Tent

Tomoka River State Park
Tomoka River State Park

Tomoka State Park is surrounded by water and offers excellent paddling, biking, boating and fishing.

Tomoka is also the gateway to the Scenic Ormond Loop Trail, a route popular with bikers, bicyclists and Sunday drives, and it’s one of the premier stops along the Great Florida Birding Trail with more than 160 species in residence or passing through during seasonal migrations.

There are 100 well-shaded campsites. Most are deep (34′ max), spacious and private. All but a few pads are hard-pack sand and coquina shell, so they accommodate tents as well as RVs.

Each campsite has electric and water, picnic table, lantern post and a grill. The campground has three restrooms with showers and a dump station. Pets are allowed.

The park is replete with shoreline access to saltwater marshes harboring 90 species of fish.

Tomoka River State Park, 2099 North Beach Street, Ormond Beach. $24 per night plus $7/night utility fee, state and local taxes and a one-time, non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. Book online or call 800-326-3621 up to 11 months in advance.

Read More: Tomoka State Park is the gateway to the Ormond Scenic Loop

Gamble Rogers State Park, Flagler Beach — RV and Tent

Gamble Rogers State Park

Gamble Rogers is not a very big park as state parks go, but the campsites are beachfront shielded by dunes along a beautiful 1/2-mile stretch of orange sand.

There are two campgrounds, a sandy oceanfront section of 34 sites behind the dunes with beach access, and a newer riverside loop of 34 sites with pads on the west side of State Road A1A.

The riverside section of this 145-acre park has hiking trails and a boat ramp on the Intracoastal Waterway offering access to saltwater marshes on the Matanzas and Tomoka rivers.

A paved bike path parallels A1A to the adjacent North Peninsula State Park, a much larger park with two miles of beautiful pristine beaches.

Campsites have water and electric, picnic table, fire ring and access to a communal dump station. Beachside, the sites are close together without any vegetation or privacy, while the riverside campground affords more space and privacy between sites.

On the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of every month, folk musicians gather to honor the park’s namesake, folksinger James Gamble Rogers, who drowned here trying to save a struggling swimmer.

Gamble Rogers State Park, 3100 S. State Road A1A, Flagler Beach, FL 32136. Reservations: $28 a night, plus $7/night utility fee, state and local taxes and a one-time, non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. Book online or call 800-326-3621 up to 11 months in advance.

Read More: A celebration of song and sea

Blue Spring State Park, Orange City — RV, Tent and Cabins

Blue Spring State Park is on the eastern edge of a vast basin of preserved lands, wildlife refuges and state parks that protect the watershed of the oddly north-flowing St. John’s River, making this park an ideal launching pad for paddlers.

A magnet for bathers in summer and a refuge for manatees in winter, the quarter-mile-long spring run flows through an idyllic setting of dense tropical vegetation to the St. John’s River.

I found tent camping here a bit uncomfortable and would opt for the RV or one of the park’s six cabins the next time I visit.

The park’s 51 campsites all have water and electric, picnic table and grill. Restrooms with hot showers nearby, and there is a dump station on site. Pets are welcome at the campground, but not in the cabins.

Blue Spring State Park, 2100 W. French Ave., Orange City. 51 campsites (tent or RV) @ $24/night plus $7/night utility fee, state and local taxes and a one-time, non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee; 6 cabins, $95. Book online or call 800-326-3521.

Read More: Manatees in winter, swimming in summer, beauty all year

Faver Dykes State Park, St. Augustine — RV and Tent

This tranquil park borders Pellicer Creek into the open marshes that frame the Intracoastal Waterway south of St. Augustine, and it’s a quick hop off Interstate 95 at Exit 298.

Pellicer Creek is a designated state paddle trail, and kayakers have miles of waterways and coastal marshes to explore. With its proximity to the coast, the park lies in the path of the Atlantic Coastal Flyway, giving it extra panache for bird lovers.

The campground’s 30 sites are situated in a shady hardwood hammock, each buffered from neighboring sites by natural vegetation. All campsites have water, electric, fire ring/grill and a picnic table. Dump station is on site.  (Maximum RV length is 30 feet).

Faver-Dykes State Park is a part of a 16,000-acre conservation corridor that includes the Mantanzas State Forest, which features primitive camping for boondocking in addition to hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Needless to say, the kayak trails are spectacular.

Faver-Dykes State Park, 1000 Faver-Dykes Road, St. Augustine. $18/night pplus $7/night utility fee, state and local taxes and a one-time, non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee.  Book online or call 800-326-3621 up to 11 months in advance.

Read More: Camping and kayaking near historic St Augustine

Our little secret: Hontoon Island — Tent, Cabin and Boat Camping

hontoon island
Hontoon Island

There’s something about islands, especially ones reachable only by boat.

Hontoon Island State Park is on the St. Johns River, 500 feet of water separating it from mainland Deland. Yet that separation makes Hontoon remote and romantic, keeping it from blending into the broader camping scene around Daytona. 

There are 12 primitive tent campsites and six basic cabins clustered around a central bath facility with hot showers and flush toilets. Campsites have a picnic table and fire ring but no electric.

Cabins have screened porches, bunk beds, ceiling fan, overhead light and a single electric outlet but no kitchen. Each cabin has a picnic table and grill. There is a minimum two-night stay on weekends and holidays.

The park also features 42 accessible boat slips with water and shore power for overnight stays.

Hontoon Island State Park, 2309 River Ridge Rd., DeLand. 12 primitive tent sites and 42 boat sites, $18/night, and 6 cabins, $30-$35/night, plus $7/night utility fee, state and local taxes and a one-time, non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. Book online or call 800-326-3621 up to 11 months in advance.

Read More: Camping, cabins and great kayaking in a wild setting

County park campgrounds

Little known to all but locals and savvy snowbirds, Volusia County’s parks department maintains four fabulous campgrounds.

Security: Parks are gated after dark. Groundskeeper may live on site but patrols are limited to local police. Have phone numbers for appropriate law enforcement agencies. Pets on leash are OK. Glass containers are not allowed. Otherwise, alcohol rules vary from park to park.

Lake Ashby Park, New Smyrna Beach — Tent Only

View of Lake Ashby from the woods.
View of Lake Ashby (and the boardwalk) from the campground. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

When I visited this park, I only planned to camp two nights but stayed two more. The solitude drew me in.

Relatively small at 64 acres, Lake Ashby Park is a former Boy Scout Camp with nature trails, boat ramp, a boardwalk over the lake with fishing pods, and a grassy beach for launching kayaks and canoes. The park also has a playground, volleyball court and picnic pavilions.

Primitive tent camping only, and you have to pack your gear into the woods from the parking lot. No RVs. The 10 campsites are spacious, and all sites enjoy plenty of shade. Each site has a picnic table, grill and there is a well-maintained rest room but no hot showers.

A few quirky features: Lake Ashby is used by seaplane pilots for touch-and-go landings, and you may hear gunfire from nearby hunting camps.

Lake Ashby Park, 4150 Boy Scout Camp Road, New Smyrna Beach. $15 a night. Maximum stay 7 days. Call 386-736-5953.

Lake Dias Park, DeLeon Springs — RV and Tent

One of the four Volusia County parks that feature camping, this 20-acre park in western Volusia is focused on fishing and boating, including kayaks and canoes.

The park has a well-maintained and accessible boat ramp, picnic pavilion, picnic area, playground and rest rooms.  

There are no hookups, but it’s a bargain for tent campers and RV boon-dockers at $11.25 a night (summer) and $16.88 per night (winter).

Candace R. Strong/Lake Dias Park, 5320 State Road 11, DeLeon Springs. $11.25-$16.88/night. Call 386-736-5953 to obtain a camping permit.

Lake Monroe Park, DeBary — RV and Tent

Lake Monroe Park Volusia County
Dock at Lake Monroe Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Excellent boat ramps with direct access to the St. John’s River and a decent campground, this is one of Volusia County’s oldest and most popular parks.

Recent renovations included floating docks, modern restrooms, picnic pavilions and a new trailhead to the multi-use Lake Monroe-Gemini Springs trail.

There are 44 RV sites and 26 for tent camping, all with hookups for water and electricity. Vegetation between sites is limited, but at these prices, who’s complaining.

This is the only Volusia County park with a ranger station that allows you to book on-site on arrival, although reservations are recommended on weekends.

Lake Monroe Park, 975 U.S. 17-92, DeBary. Call 386-668-3825 for reservations or book your site at the site. $24.64/night for RVs; $13.38-$19.01 for tents.

Our little secret: Gemini Springs, DeBary — Tent Only

You would be hard-pressed to recognize this 212-acre park from its origins. Since the 19th Century, the property has served as a cattle ranch and farm that produced citrus, turpentine and sugar cane.

Most recently, as late as 1994, the last private owners, the Gray family, raised prize-winning Santa Gertrudis cattle. After attempts to develop the property failed, the Grays sold it to Volusia County for $5.6 million.

The park’s 10 primitive tent sites are nestled below big, arching live oak trees with decent space between sites. Like Lake Ashby, you have to walk into the wooded camping area with your gear from the parking lot.

Each campsite is equipped with a fire ring, picnic table, lantern-hook pole, grill and groomed sand.  All are in proximity of restrooms. 

Gemini Springs County Park, 37 Dirksen Drive, DeBary. Call 386-736-5953 for reservations. $15/night plus tax.

Special Event Camping

daytona beach campgrounds Daytona International Speedway Logo Best campgrounds near Daytona -- plus some awesome secrets
Daytona International Speedway

Special Event Camping

During special events, sites are available at the Speedway in the infield and/or outside the track behind the berms, and a few enterprising ranchers along Williamson Boulevard have been known to open their pastures for campers and car parking within walking distance of the track.

Special event campground for Speedweeks

One block from the Speedway is a private special event campground designed for recreational vehicles, and it’s only open for special events. The Finish Line RV Park has a few paved site, and a few have electric hookups, but the majority are simply parking spaces. And it’s not cheap.

Ocala National Forest campgrounds

Although the closest of Ocala National Forest’s 18 campgrounds are almost 50 miles from Daytona. They are worth considering, even highly recommended.

Dispersed camping is allowed throughout the forest with the exception of restricted areas, which change often depending on ground conditions such as flooding and controlled fires.

Security: Developed recreation areas lock gates after hours, and rangers patrol. There is limited law enforcement for dispersed camping, however.

Alexander Springs — RV and Tent, No hookups

Lying in the southern tier of Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs is about 45 miles from Daytona but worth the drive. One of only 27 first-magnitude springs in Florida, this may be the best swimming hole in the state. If you are lucky enough to get a campsite here, you will find one of the most pristine sub-tropical environments you may ever experience. Trailhead for the Paisley Woods Bicycle Trail, a 22-mile loop through the forest. The campground has 67 sites for tent or RV with no hookups.

Alexander Springs Recreation Area, 49525 County Rd 445, Altoona, FL  (352) 669-3522. Reservations: $31 per night. Call 877-444-6777 or book online up to 12 months in advance.

Juniper Springs — RV and Tent, No hookups

Juniper Springs is exceptionally beautiful and accessible. Visitors can kayak or canoe the spring run, swim in the spring, bike and hike nearby trails while enjoying dense, tropical foliage rarely seen in this area of Florida.  The shady campground has 79 sites, including 19 for tents only. While the campsites have no hookups, they are heavily shaded and heavily booked. Reserve your site well in advance, and stay on top of cancellations.

Juniper Springs Recreation Area, 26701 FL-40, Silver Springs, FL (352) 625-3147 Reservations: $31 per night. Call 1-877-444-6777 or book online up to 6 months in advance.  

Salt Springs — RV and Tent WITH Hookups!

Salt Springs is the largest, most developed campground in Ocala National Forest and the only campground with full hookups for recreational vehicles. The spring has a slight salinity, evident in the large swimming area at the spring head, which flows into a broad spring run that offers a scenic paddle to Lake George. There are 106 tent or RV sites with full hookups and 54 tent-only sites.

Salt Springs Campground, 13851 FL-19, Fort McCoy, FL. (352) 685-2048. Reservations: $34/night with full hookups; $23/night for tents, no hookups. Discounts for seniors and pass holders. Call 1-877-444-6777 or book online up to 6 months in advance.  


Read More: More than a dozen campgrounds in side Ocala National Forest

State forest campgrounds

Florida’s state forests are wilderness areas designated for “agricultural” purposes, specifically logging, and wildlife preservation, which means they are open to hunters in season.

The general gun season for the forests listed here is Nov. 7 through Jan. 24.

Security: Non-hunters may want to avoid gun season. Patrols are sparse. Campsites are isolated. Camp with groups. When you obtain your camping permit, ask for local law enforcement phone numbers.

Tiger Bay State Forest — RV and Tent

This huge (23,425 acres) wetland forest is a recreational paradise with 50 miles of unimproved park roads for off-road cyclists, hikers and equestrians to enjoy — and it’s just 7 miles from Daytona International Speedway.

Spidering off the park roads you’ll find miles and miles and miles of logging trails that lead hikers into the deep woods, a wildlife corridor with black bears, deer, fox, wild turkeys, wild hogs and hundreds of species of birds, including nesting bald eagles.

What you might not know is that there are two small campgrounds in this forest, both primitive, one of which is designated for equestrians and equipped with corrals. Both campgrounds are in the Rima Ridge Tract on the east side of the forest, accessible from Indian Lake Road off U.S. 92.

The main campground at Bennet Field Road has another six sites, spacious and well-shaded in a grove of live oak, far enough apart that you’d have to shout to rile your neighbor. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table, but there is no water, no electric and no dump station. Forget hot showers. No rest rooms, just an outhouse. All of the sites are excellent for tents and boon-docking RVs (all but site no. 6).

Tiger Bay State Forest, 4316 W International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32124. (386) 226-0250. $10 per night, first-come, first-served. Purchase your permit in person at park headquarters on U.S. 92 or by phone at 386-266-0250, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Lake George State Forest — Tent Only

campground at Lake George State Forest
Shady, primitive campground

There are no amenities at this primitive campground, but the dense 21,000-acre forest around the campground and it’s proximity to the St. John’s River make this an attractive overnight stay for small groups of nature lovers and anglers, whether you’re here for one night or a few.

There are only four campsites, each in the shade of a live oak, with a picnic table and fire ring. No hookups.

The biggest obstacle is obtaining a camping permit ($10/night) in person at the DeLeon Forestry Station, about 20 miles away. The biggest plus is that you can almost always get a campsite.

Lake George State Forest, 5458 N. Hwy. 17, DeLeon Springs, FL 32130-4229 (386) 985-7815. $10/night. Permits issued first come, first served at the forestry station, about 20 miles from the campground.

Read More: Escape to lonely Lake George State Forest

Our little secret

Heart Island Conservation Area — Tent Only

This 12,082 acre conservation area is managed by the St. John’s River Water Management District and offers hiking, horseback riding, seasonal hunting, bicycling, picnicking, wildlife viewing and remote primitive camping.

Tent camping only, no RVs, and you have to hike, bike or boat to one of four designated sites, each of which has a fire ring. There are no facilities, no potable water and no restrooms. You must carry out your garbage.

Security: You are pretty much on your own, so we suggest camping in groups. Safety in numbers.

Heart Island Conservation Area, De Leon Springs. (386) 329-4404. Camping is free and sites are available first come, first served.

Private Campgrounds

TripAdvisor is a good source for finding campgrounds near Daytona Beach.

A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning your trip.

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