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Stunning Gulf beaches prevail at Florida state parks with camping in the Panhandle

Florida’s Panhandle is home to 14 awesome Florida State Parks with camping, and many are on the Sunshine State’s stunning sugar-sand Gulf beaches.

The seasons are different here.

From December until March, the weather is unpredictable, and the mercury may even dip to freezing on some days. Summers are hot and the beaches are crowded.

The camping season kicks off with a bang during spring break, and the fall shoulder season features smaller crowds, “shoulder season” seafood festivals and the southbound migration of birds and butterflies.


First in a series


Effective January 1, 2024, Florida residents will have a 30-day lead to book campsites at Florida State Parks, reducing the reservation window for non-residents to 10 months in advance. This change does not apply to state forests, national parks, county or municipal campgrounds, where rules vary.


Big Lagoon State Park

florida state parks camping big lagoon state park osprey
Osprey photographed while kayaking at Big Lagoon State Park (Photo by Rob Bixby)

This beachside state park is popular with birders in spring and fall as a migration rest stop for birds who cross the Gulf of Mexico for destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The mile-long boardwalk, a three-story observation tower and the park’s 3.5-mile nature trail are perfect for viewing.

Crabbing in the shallow waters of the lagoon is also a popular activity in this 655-acre Florida state park with camping.

There are two sprawling, white-sand beaches and a boat ramp, making Big Lagoon park an excellent choice for paddlers and boaters. The park is the starting launch point for the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.

Big Lagoon State Park, 12301 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola. 75 sites with water, 30/50-amp electric, picnic table, fire ring/grill. Maximum RV length is 40 feet. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes. Pets: OK, but not on beaches. Rates: $20 plus $7 per day utility fee and a non-refundable $6.70 booking fee. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


Blackwater River State Park

blackwater river canoe florida state parks with camping
Canoe on the Blackwater River. (Photo by David Blasco)

The campground in this 600-acre Florida state park with camping is nestled under tall pines, a short walk to the river, a popular destination for paddlers and tubing.

The river is unspoiled, fed by springs and populated with big white sandbars as it flows from the Alabama state line through undeveloped lands of the Blackwater State Forest and Blackwater River State Park. The current is two to three miles per hour and the water is shallow, the bottom sandy, making it one of the easiest paddling trips you can take.

Hikers 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.

Read more: Adventures near Blackwater River State Park.

Blackwater River State Park, 7720 Deaton Bridge Road, Holt, FL. 30 sites for tent or RV with hookups for water, sewer, 20/30/50-amp electric, picnic table, fire ring and grill. Maximum RV length is 45 feet. Pets: OK. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes. Rates: $20 plus $7 daily utility fee and a non-refundable $6.70 booking fee. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


Falling Waters State Park

falling waters state park waterfall state parks in florida with camping
Waterfall at Falling Waters State Park. (Florida State Parks photo)

Huge trees and fern-covered sinkholes line the hilly trail to Florida’s highest waterfall, a 73-foot cascade that drops to the bottom of a sinkhole.  

The campground is on one of the highest hills in Florida, 324 feet above sea level (and you thought we didn’t have mountains!) 

This is a peaceful Florida state park with camping has scenic nature trails and is a popular observation park for more than 100 species of birds and migrating butterflies. Besides camping, popular activities include fishing and swimming in the two-acre freshwater lake with a white-sand beach.

Falling Waters State Park, 1130 State Park Road, Chipley, FL 32428. 24 campsites with 20/30/50-amp electric, water, picnic table and a ground grill. Maximum RV length is 40 feet. Pets: OK. Wheelchair Accessible: No. Rates: $18 plus a daily utility fee of $7 and a non-refundable $6.70 booking fee. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


Florida Caverns State Park

florida state parks with camping Florida Caverns State Park Stunning Gulf beaches prevail at Florida state parks with camping in the Panhandle

Rock formations inside Florida Caverns State Park.

Attention spelunkers! Florida really does have caves with stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies, and you can explore these dazzling underground caverns on guided tours. 

The Chipola River offers kayaking and canoeing, as well as fishing, and the park even features a nine-hole golf course.  Kayak rentals available at the park’s gift shop.

Eight miles of multi-use trails for bicycles, hikers and equestrians course through the 1,319-acre park. The park is still recovering from 2018’s Hurricane Michael, and the work of Mother Nature is visible with flowering plants and wildlife.

Florida Caverns State Park, 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, FL. 38 campsites for tents or RVs, including 32 with water, sewer, 30/50-amp electric, picnic table, in-ground grill and a fire ring, 3 RV sites in equestrian area without sewer, 3 primitive tent sites. Maximum RV length is 40 feet. Wheelchair Accessible: No. Pets: OK Rates: $20 plus $7 per night for utilities and a $6.70 reservation fee. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach
Grayton Beach State Park is a quiet oasis between Panama City and Destin. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

This 2,000-acre park embraces one of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S., a sugar-sand paradise that stretches a mile along a peninsula between Destin and Panama City Beach.

The park features a 4.5-mile trail within the park for hiking and biking, connecting to a paved, multi-use trail that runs the length of County Road 30A through Walton County’s colorful seaside villages.

There’s a boat ramp to launch your canoe or kayak into Western Lake, a rare freshwater lake amid the sand dunes, a unique feature of this coast. 

Besides the campground, the park also has 30 duplex cabins.

Read more: Grayton Beach State Park.

Grayton Beach State Park, 357 Main Park Road, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. 59 tent and RV sites with water and electric, a few with sewer; 30 cabins (2 BR/1 bath). Maximum RV length is 40 feet. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes, including beach wheelchairs. Pets: OK, not on beach. Camping Rate: $24-$30/night plus $7 utilities and $6.70 booking fee. Cabins: $110-$130/night (plus utilities and booking fee). Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park boardwalk
Boardwalk through the dunes at Henderson Beach State Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

The sugar-white sand beach with 30-foot high sand dunes and convenient location near Destin shopping make this Florida state park with camping an attractive destination for RVers. 

A nature trail winds through the rolling dune system. Surf fishing is popular here, and the catch includes pompano, red fish, flounder, catfish, whiting and the occasional cobia.

The campground is well-maintained with landscaping curated for privacy. The rest rooms have heat and A/C, showers and coin-operated washers and dryers.  

Beginning July 24, 2024: The campground will be closed approximately six months for a construction project.

Read more: Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park, 17000 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin, FL 32541. 60 sites with a mix of back-in and pull-through sites, water, 30/50-amp electric, picnic tables, ground grills and clothesline posts (no sewer hookups). Maximum RV length is 60 feet. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes, including the beach. Pets: OK, but not on beach. Camping Fee: $30/night plus $7 daily utility fee and $6.70 booking fee. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


Ochlockonee River State Park

Sixty years ago, the owner of a historic inn brought in a small population of white squirrels. These squirrels – leucistic not albinos – thrived and today can be seen in and around Ochlockonee River State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Sixty years ago, the owner of a historic inn brought in a small population of white squirrels. These squirrels – leucistic not albinos – thrived and today can be seen in and around Ochlockonee River State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Ochlockonee River State Park is an excellent paddle destination south of Tallahassee at the junction of the Ochlockonee and Dead Rivers, a short distance from the Gulf of Mexico with access to both fresh and saltwater fishing.

Wildlife is abundant, and you’ll find rare snow-white squirrels and Sherman’s Fox Squirrel throughout the park. Look for eagles, osprey and migrating hawks as you hike the nature trails along the river.

The campground is nestled in a shady, wooded forest. Restroom with hot showers and outside sink for washing dishes. One site (#14) is available for hammock camping. 

Read this story: Big Bend Scenic Byway

Ochlockonee River State Park, 429 State Park Road, Sopchoppy, FL 32358. Thirty (30) campsites with water, 50-amp electric, fire ring, picnic table and clothesline. Maximum RV length is 40 feet. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes. Pets: Yes. Camping Fee: $18/night, $7 daily utility fee plus a $6.70 booking fee. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


Florida residents 65 & older are entitled to a 50% discount off base camping rates at all Florida State Parks. A 50% discount is also available to residents who hold a Social Security disability award certificate or a 100% disability award certificate from the federal government. Discount does not apply to utility or booking fees.


Rocky Bayou State Park

florida state parks with camping rocky bayou campsite29 view scaled Stunning Gulf beaches prevail at Florida state parks with camping in the Panhandle
View from a motorhome in Site 29 at Rocky Bayou State Park. (Photo by woodosgood)

Access to Choctawhatchee Bay and saltwater fishing make this park attractive to boaters and paddlers who want to explore the bayou or view dolphin, otters and swans on the flats. Kayak rentals are available in the park.

The campground is located near three beautiful nature trails, each taking you into a different community of plants and wildlife. The park also has a fitness trail.

Some campground sites have water views, and the bathhouse is heated in winter and cooled in summer with laundry and vending machines near four ADA-accessible camp sites.

Rocky Bayou State Park, 4281 State Road 20, Niceville, FL 32578. Forty-two (42) spacious sites for tent and RV with water and electric, picnic table, some have water views. Maximum RV length is 50 feet. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes. Pets: Yes. Camping Fee:  $16/night plus $7 daily for utilities and a one-time $6.70 booking fee.. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


St. Andrews State Park

st andrews state park beach
St. Andrews State Park. (Photo by Ebyabe)

With its proximity to Panama City, the heart of Florida’s “Redneck Riviera,” you can just imagine how crowded this beachfront park can get in summer.

There are two fishing piers, a jetty and a boat ramp. Two nature trails offer opportunities for birding, especially during the spring and fall migrations. It’s also a good spot to observe the Monarch butterfly migration.

From March through November, take the park ferry to Shell Island for a day of shelling, sunning and beachcombing.

The campground is huge with a whopping 176 sites on two loops with five restrooms with showers and a laundry facility in the campground. Most sites have a view of Grand Lagoon.

Three sites are set aside for “Glamping” in luxury eco-tents with queen beds, two cots and air conditioning, already set up and ready to go (for a price).

St. Andrews State Park, 4607 State Park Lane, Panama City, FL 32408. 176 sites with water and electric, picnic tables and grills. Maximum RV length is 45 feet. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes. Pets: Yes. Camping Fee:  $28/night plus a $7 daily for utilities and a $6.70 booking fee. Utility fee does not apply to tent camping. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


St. George Island State Park

The beach on St. George Island goes on for mile after pristine mile. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The beach on St. George Island goes on for mile after pristine mile. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

St. George Island State Park is on the east end of a barrier island that frames Apalachicola Bay, one of the most productive oyster beds in the world.  

Miles of pristine, white-sand beaches await you for swimming, sunbathing, shelling and beach combing. Two boat ramps on the bay side offer access for canoes, kayaks and small boats.

Nature trails meander through nearby pine forests and coastal scrub. Two primitive campsites can be accessed via a 2.5-mile trail or canoe and kayak.

The main campground is tucked behind rolling dunes, a short walk to the beach.

You are close enough to the commercial fishing port of Apalachicola to enjoy fresh fish, especially oysters, at any time of the year.

Read more: Apalachicola and St. George Island State Park

St. George Island State Park, 1900 E. Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island, FL 32328. 60 campsites with electric and water, no sewer. 6 sites have concrete pads, and the rest are hard-pack sand. Maximum RV length is 43 feet. Hammocks: Yes. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes, including beach wheelchairs and a floating mobi-chair. Pets: OK in campground, but not on the beach. Rates: $24/night plus a $7 nightly utility fee and a $6.70 booking fee. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

florida state parks with camping st joseph peninsula beach Stunning Gulf beaches prevail at Florida state parks with camping in the Panhandle
St. Joseph’s Peninsula State Park (Photo by Gary J. Wood)

Oh, my!  These beaches are unbelievable, and they consistently rank among the best in the nation. The park offers 10 miles of white-sand beach on Cape San Blas and some of the highest sand dunes in the state. 

Launch kayaks and paddle boards from the beach, or at the bayside boat ramp. There are three hiking trails, including a six-mile Wilderness Preserve Trail that meanders through 1750 acres of an unspoiled coastal eco-system bustling with wildlife. 

Swim in the Gulf or the bay. The two campground loops are a short walk to the beach. The Shady Pines campground has more shade. Some sites accommodate RVs up to 40 feet, but most are much smaller with individual limits.

Eight cabins are available for $100 a night overlooking St. Joseph’s Bay.

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, 8899 Cape San Blas Road, Port St. Joe, FL 32456. Eight cabins and 119 camp sites with 30-amp electric, water, a picnic table and fire ring. Max RV is 40 feet. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes, including beach wheelchairs. Pets: Yes. Camping:  $24/night plus $7 daily utility fee and a $6.70 booking fee. Cabins: $100/night. Primitive Camping: $5.00/ person/night. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


Three Rivers State Park

campground at three rivers state park
Lakefront campground at Three Rivers State Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

The convergence of the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers forms Lake Seminole, the setting for this quiet park on the Florida-Georgia border renowned for its fishing.  Shallow-water boats are smartest because the lake is, well, mostly shallow.  

Enjoy five miles of nature trails, and more than seven miles of trails and paved roads for bicycles in semi-rough terrain and moderate elevation changes.  Just north of Interstate 10, the park is easily accessible for RVers, and at $16 a night, it’s bargain-priced.  

The 30 shaded campsites are spacious, and most have a lake view. The campground includes a small boat ramp and a fishing pier.

The park has a singled one-bedroom cabin with A/C, heat and a wood-burning fireplace. Pets are welcome, and the maximum RV length is 50 feet.

Read more: Losing track of time at Three Rivers State Park

Three Rivers State Park, 7908 Three Rivers Road, Sneads, FL 32460. 30 shaded campsites on the lake with water, electric, a picnic table and grill ring. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes. Pets: Yes. Camping:  $16/night plus $7 daily utility fee and a $6.70 booking fee. Cabin: $65 per night. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

florida state parks with camping topsail sunset Stunning Gulf beaches prevail at Florida state parks with camping in the Panhandle
Sunset at Topsail Hill State Park. The pool of water is outfall from one of the rare coastal dune lakes. (Photo: Bonnie Gross.)

Towering sand dunes surround three miles of pristine white-sand beach and encompass two freshwater coastal dune lakes at this sprawling 1,600-acre state park on a barrier island west of Panama City Beach.

Bring your bicycles. Outside of the campground, the 1,640-acre park is off-limits to cars. A tram runs to the beach from the campground.

The campground is unusual for state parks with its swimming pool and shuffleboard courts. Every campsite has a cable TV connection. Restrooms with showers have both heat and A/C and laundry facilities.

The park also has 30 bungalows and cabins, and the campground store offers glamping in a fully outfitted tent with a queen bed, linens, rugs, lamps  and portable air conditioners or heaters.

Read in depth: Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. 156 RV campsites with water, 30/50-amp electric, cable and sewer hookups. Max RV is 45 feet. 22 tent sites on elevated pads with fire ring, water and electric. 30 bungalows and cabins. Wheelchair Accessible: Yes. Pets: Yes. Camping: $42/night for RV sites plus $7/night for utilities and a $6.70 book fee; $24 for tent sites. Max RV length is 45 feet. Cabins: $100-$145/night (seasonal). Glamping: $130. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


Torreya State Park

RV campsite at Torreya State Park
RV campsite atop the bluffs at Torreya State Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

One of Florida’s most scenic state parks with camping, Torreya State Park sits on high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River and is the home of an extremely rare species of Torreya tree that grows only in this forest.

The hardwood forests make this a destination for fall color, and nature trails will take you deep into a forest of river bluffs, high plateaus and steep ravines. One trail loop is seven miles long through all of the park’s eco-systems.

A pre-Civil War mansion sits on a bluff overlooking the river at the edge of the campgrouond plateau. The Gregory House was moved here from its original plantation site across the river.

A Yurt with heat and A/C, fully furnished and sleeps five, is available in the shady campground, and the park has three primitive trail camps.

Read more: Torreya State Park: Florida as you never knew it

Torreya State Park, 2576 NW Torreya Park Road, Bristol, FL 32321. 29 shaded campsites with water and electric hookups, a yurt and a cabin. Maximum RV length is 60 feet. Wheelchair Accessible: No. Pets: Yes. Camping:  $16/night plus $7 daily utility fee and a $6.70 booking fee. Cabin: $50/night plus $7 daily utility fee and a $6.70 booking fe. Yurt:  $40/night plus $7 daily utility fee and a $6.70 booking fe. Primitive Camping: Torreya had three back pack primitive camps. Each camp is divided into four different small sites. $5 per person. Call park for details. Reservations: Book online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or call (800) 326-3521 up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents.


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FAQ / Frequently Asked Questions

These frequently asked questions apply only to Florida State Parks camping, not campgrounds managed by other agencies, such as Florida State Forests or water management district recreation areas. Nor do they apply to federal and county campgrounds.

Is park admission included in state park camping rates?

Yes. Park admission is included in the base camping rate.

Do Florida residents have any benefits when reserving campsites in state parks?

Yes. As of January 1, 2024, Florida residents can book campsites at Florida State Parks up to 11 months in advance, a 30-day head start over non-residents.

Are Florida residents entitled to discounts?

Yes. Florida residents 65 and older are entitled to a 50% discount off the base camping fee. The discount does not apply to utility or booking fees, which are additional. 

A 50% discount on the base camping fee is also available to families from a Florida-licensed foster home and to Florida residents with a Social Security disability award certificate or a 100% disability award certificate from the federal government. 

Can an individual reserve more than one campsite?

No, at least not for the same dates in the same park. However, some parks have group camping areas with some restrictions and qualifications, such as youth groups or non-profits. Contact the individual parks directly.

Can I reserve a campsite for someone else?

No. Registered campers must produce identification to rangers upon arrival at the campground, and the ID must match the name on the reservation.

Is there a limit on how long I can stay?

Yes. There is a two-week limit for a reservation at any one state park, and there is a waiting period between bookings at the same park. Reservations are matched in the database to ensure compliance.

Are pets allowed in state park campgrounds?

Yes. Pets are allowed in all Florida State Park campgrounds, but restrictions may apply to other areas of the park, such as beaches or trails. 

Is alcohol allowed in state park campgrounds?

Yes. Registered campers are permitted to use alcohol within the boundaries of their campsite.

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