Last updated on February 2nd, 2021 at 11:40 am
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.
You 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, and they are hard to get in the winter months, especially during major events at Daytona International Speedway.
You need to plan ahead, up to 11 months in advance, to get a campsite. And I mean you need to be online at 8 a.m. on the first day sites are made available.
If your plans change, you can always cancel for a small fee, and open up your reservation to other campers.
Security: State parks close at sunset with secure gates. Campground access is likewise restricted. Frequent ranger patrols, and you will be provided a phone number for the ranger on call. Pets on a leash are allowed in state park campgrounds. Alcohol is restricted to your campsite.
Tomoka River State Park
Tomoka State Park is surrounded by water and offers excellent paddling, biking, boating and fishing.
RV and Tent
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.
Gamble Rogers State Park, Flagler Beach
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.
RV and Tent
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.
Blue Spring State Park, Orange City
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.
Tent, RV & Cabin
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.
Faver Dykes State Park, St. Augustine
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.
RV and Tent
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.
Our little secret: Hontoon Island
There’s something about islands, especially ones reachable only by boat.
Tent, Cabin & Boat Camping
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.
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
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
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.
RV and Tent
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).
Lake Monroe Park, DeBary
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.
RV and Tent
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
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
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
RV and Tent
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
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.
RV and Tent
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.
Our little secret
Heart Island Conservation Area
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 RV Campgrounds
RVers may also want to check availability for these private campgrounds near Daytona International Speedway.
Daytona Speedway RV Park
Daytona Endless Summer Campground
Daytona Beach RV Resort, Port Orange
New Smyrna Beach RV Park and Campground
Sugar Mill Ruins Travel Park
From the Editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm rates and details when planning your trip by following the links in this article.
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