The Moss Park Campground may be Orlando’s best-kept secret.
Tucked into the woods between two lakes and a wildlife preserve, this 54-site public campground is $18-$23 per night and only 20 minutes to Disney World.
Enjoy boating, camping, kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, hiking, biking, fishing, picnic areas, a swimming beach, bird-watching, orienteering. Lots of trees. Lots of wildlife.
I visited this park a couple of years ago in my hunt to find the best campgrounds near Disney World, and this one fills the bill.
Just off the Central Florida GreeneWay (State Road 417, toll), Moss Park is 23 miles from Disney, yet it is devoid of the tourist traps we’ve come to expect in Central Florida.
The shady campground is deep inside the 1500-acre park, separated from busy day-use areas by a grove of pine and shady oak trees, which extends into the campground.
Each site has a shell-rock pad and drive, and each is equipped with water and electric hookups, a picnic table and fire ring. There is a dump station is located as you exit the campground.
All of the campsites are spacious and comfortable.
The park is adjacent to the 2,000-acre Split Oak Preserve, offering miles of trails to explore.
Pick up an orienteering guide at the ranger station and add another layer of fun to your hike. (In orienteering, participants find their way to checkpoints with the aid of a map and compass.)
Split Oak is managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to preserve natural habitats for plants and wildlife, especially the endangered gopher tortoise and Florida sandhill crane. Like many such preserves in the state, the park and forest are natural way stations and nesting areas for migrating birds. You can obtain a downloadable seasonal birding list online at the link listed below.
Bicycles are not permitted in the preserve, but there are ample park roads for cycling.
I encountered plenty of wildlife in just one evening, including two pairs of sandhill cranes who paid me a visit at my campsite. And throughout the campground, small herds of deer emerged from the preserve to graze. I was warned about raccoons but saw none.
My camping experience had mixed results. While I enjoyed the serenity of the park, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a couple of yahoos playing army in the woods. They accidentally set the pine-needle ground cover on fire, and I had to call the fire department.
When I dialed 911, I got an out-of-county emergency desk, which complicated the reporting. Eventually it worked out, but it was frustrating because I had seen a fire station just outside the park.
Lesson learned: Power cycle your cell phone when you reach a destination far from home — and don’t assume your 911 call is going to local dispatchers.
All campers are also provided with an on-site park ranger’s cell phone number. Next time, I’ll use that number first.
Moss Park Campground (Orange County)
12901 Moss Park Road
Orlando, FL 32832
Admission to the park is $3 per vehicle
Scenic Rating: 8 out of 10
Family Rating: 9 out of 10
Campsites: 54 improved sites for RV, tents, trailers. Group sites available.
Hookups: Water and electric
*Price: $23 (non-resident), $18 (resident) with 25% discount for over-55 seniors and active military.
Reservations: Online camping reservations. You must create an account with Orange County Parks.
Pets: No. Alcohol: No.
- Official Moss Park web site
- PDF camping guide to Orange County Parks, including campsite maps
- Florida Orienteering
- Split Oak Bird List
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Notes from the editor:
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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.