Florida’s northern tier is a long and lonely 400 miles on Interstate 10, and we can’t think of a better layover for RV campers than a quick hop off this Panhandle highway to one of these seven unique Florida state parks
Soak up a bit of the authentic Florida, explore a cavern, paddle a river, enjoy the soothing rhythm of the state’s highest waterfall! A waterfall? In Florida?
At the right times of the year in the right places, you can even see fall foliage, and you can witness mass migrations of songbirds and monarch butterflies in spring and fall.
Any time of the year, you can hear a 97-bell carillon playing the sweet sounds of “The Old Folks at Home” in the heart of Stephen Foster country. (Did you know Foster never saw the Suwannee River? But you can!)
These Florida State Parks campgrounds are just a few miles off the Interstate, listed west to east, from the Alabama state line to the end of Interstate 10 in Jacksonville.
A note to travelers: A limited number of sites are set aside for same-day walk-ins, but it’s best to call the ranger station before your arrival to make sure a site is available.
Blackwater River State Park
Exit 31 Milton – 10.5 miles from I-10
A favorite destination for kayakers and canoeists, this campground is nestled under tall pines just a short walk from the river. Hikers can enjoy more than 600 acres of undisturbed natural environs. Enjoy the magnificent cedar stands along the river, including one of the largest and oldest white cedars in the eastern half of the nation. There are 30 RV campsites, each with 20-30-50-amp service, water, sewer hookups, picnic table and a grill. Pets are welcome, and the maximum RV length is 45 feet. Activities include Camping, Canoe/Kayak, Fishing, Hiking, Picnicking, Swimming. Pets OK.
Blackwater River State Park, 7720 Deaton Bridge Road, Holt, FL. Park office: 850-983-5363. Thirty RV/tent sites with full hookups. Camping fee is $20. Reservations: Up to 11 months in advance, call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern) or TDD (888) 433-0287, or online at Florida State Parks.
Falling Waters State Park
Exit 120 Chipley – 2.5 miles from I-10
Huge trees and fern-covered sinkholes line the trail to Florida’s highest waterfalls, a 73-foot cascade that drops to the bottom of a sinkhole. The campground is on one of the highest hills in Florida, at 324 feet above sea level (and you thought we had mountains!) This is a peaceful park with scenic nature trails and a two-acre lake with a white sand beach. There are 24 campsites, each with electric, water, picnic table and a ground grill. Pets are welcome, and the maximum RV length is 40 feet. Activities: Birding, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Picnicking, Swimming.
Falling Waters State Park, 1130 State Park Road, Chipley, FL. Park office: 850-638-6130. Camping fee $18. Reservations: Up to 11 months in advance, call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern) or TDD (888) 433-0287, or online at Florida State Parks.
Florida Caverns State Park
Exit 136 Marianna – 6 miles from I-10
Explore these dazzling underground caverns on a guided tour. The nearby Chipola River offers ample opportunity for kayaking and canoeing, as well as fishing, and the park even features a nine-hole golf course! Multi-use trails accommodate bicycles, hikers and equestrians (bring your own horse). The 1,319-acre park has 35 campsites with electric and water hookups, as well as stables for horses. Pets are welcome, and maximum RV length is 40 feet. Activities: Bicycling, Boating, Camping, Cave Tours, Canoe/Kayak, Fishing, Hiking, Picnicking.
Summer 2021: Campground remains closed due to hurricane damage. Day use area open. ($5 per vehicle)
Florida Caverns State Park, 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, FL. Park office: 850-482-9598. Camping fee: $20. Reservations: Up to 11 months in advance, call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern) or TDD (888) 433-0287, or online at Florida State Parks.
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Three Rivers State Park
Exit 158 Sneads – 8 miles from I-10
The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers meet here to form Lake Seminole, which spills over a dam into the Apalachicola River. Enjoy camping, seven miles of paved and unpaved bicycle trails and five miles of nature trails through the park’s rolling hills and upland forests. Canoe and kayaks are welcome on the lake and up both rivers, as are small boats, offering access to world-class fishing and bird-watching in fall. Activities: On- and off-road bicycling, birding, boating, fishing, hiking, paddling, wildlife viewing.
Three Rivers State Park, 7908 Three Rivers Road, Sneads, FL. Ranger station: 850-482-9006. Camping in one of the 30 shaded sites is only $16 per night (plus tax and a non-refundable $6.70 booking fee. The park’s single cabin is $65. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance online.
Torreya State Park
Exit 166 Chattahoochee — 14 miles from I-10
BRISTOL — Torreya State Park is on a high bluff above the Apalachicola River, encircled by deep ravines in a deciduous forest with a scattering of evergreens, including the dainty and very rare Torreya tree. The park has 16 miles of challenging hiking trails, dipping in and out of steep ravines, a landscape contour not often encountered in our pancake state. The park’s 29 campsites sit high on a bluff with fabulous views of the surrounding countryside. Activities: Birding, boating, fishing, geo-seeking, hiking, paddling, wildlife viewing.
Torreya State Park, 2576 NW Torreya Park Road, Bristol FL. Park office: 850-643-2674. Camping Fee: $16/night plus tax and a non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. Yurt, $40/night. Cabin, $50. Backpackers, $5 per person. Reservations: Up to 11 months in advance, call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern) or TDD (888) 433-0287, or online at Florida State Parks.
Suwannee River State Park
Exit 274 Live Oak — 5 miles from I-10
Suwannee River State Park is at the junction of two rivers — the scenic Withlacoochee River joining the Suwannee, which continues its lazy journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Explore both rivers in a kayak, canoe or small motorboat. The campground’s 30 oak-shaded campsites have full hookups, a picnic table and fire ring. Three campsites and the restrooms are ADA accessible. A dump station is available. Activities: On- and off-road bicycling (fat tire), birding, boating, fishing, hiking, paddling.
Suwannee River State Park. 3631 201st Path, Live Oak, Fla. 32060. Phone: 386-362-2746. Camping fee is $22 per night, half-price for Florida seniors. For reservations, call 800-326-3621 or book online.
Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center
Exit 292 — 7 miles from I-10
“Way down upon the Suwannee River,” the Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center is a monument to what never was, which is frankly not unusual for Florida. While this park is on the Suwannee River, composer Stephen Foster has never actually been here. In fact, he has never seen any part of the river before (or after) he wrote his classic ode to the South, “Old Folks at Home.” The park’s museum features exhibits about Foster’s most famous songs, and his music flows from the park’s 97-bell carillon throughout the day. The campground has 45 oak-shaded sites with water and electric hookups, picnic table and fire ring, and all of the sites are ADA accessible. A dump station is on premises. There are five riverside cabins with two bedrooms with a fireplace, screened porch and kitchenette. The 250-mile-long river begins in South Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp and flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Activities: Off-road mountain biking on developed fat-tire trail, fishing, geo-seeking, hiking, horseback riding, paddling, wildlife viewing.
Stephen C. Foster Cultural Center State Park, 11016 Lillian Saunders Drive/ U.S. Highway 41, White Springs FL 32096. Ranger office: 386-397-4331. Campsites are $20 per night; Cabins are $100 per night. Reservations can be made by phone 800-864-7275 or online.