Last updated on October 10th, 2020 at 04:05 pm

Ocala National Forest has more than a dozen developed campgrounds that make a great base for exploring the forest’s 628 square miles of wilderness and 600 natural lakes, ponds and springs.

Venture out to explore hundreds of miles of forest roads and trails on horseback, mountain bikes, kayak or canoe, your car or off-road vehicle and boots that are made for walkin’.

Camping with Bears. Bears roam freely in Ocala National Forest, and they are most active in fall. Secure food and food waste in bear-proof containers or suspend 10 feet above the ground. Read more

Note: Campgrounds closed as of 10/10/2020 are marked. Closures can occur at any time for various reasons, including fire hazards, bear intrusion, flooding, storms, etc. Other factors, such as military missions and hunting, may result in closures of some areas of the forest. Check before you go by calling 352-625-2520. You may also want to check their Facebook page for updates.

Hunting Season: The 2020-21 General Gun Season (deer season) runs from Nov. 7 until Jan. 24. Hunting in the forest is regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.


Camping in Recreation Areas

Most popular campgrounds

Ocala National Forest has 14 developed campgrounds with designated sites, picnic tables, lantern posts, grills, and fire rings. Only one, Salt Springs, has full hook-ups for electric, water, and sewer.

For information about dispersed camping in the forest’s backcountry, read Great Escape: Dispersed camping in Ocala National Forest


Alexander Springs Campground, Ocala National Forest
Alexander Springs Campground
Open all year

Alexander Springs Campground

Lying in the southern tier of Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs is within easy reach of Orlando and Deland, 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.

Things to do: Canoe and kayak (rentals available), swimming, hiking, off-road bicycle. Sites: 67, tents, or RV up to 35 feet. No hookups. Camping Fee: $24 per night. Usage: Heavy. Facilities: Picnic tables, fire rings and grills at each site. Drinking water, dump station in campground. Rest rooms w/showers. Firewood is available. A concession sells snacks, groceries, ice, charcoal, firewood, beach items, and personal items. Pets: OK. Reservations: First-come, first-serve sites may be available. To reserve a site: call 877-444-6777 or book online up to 12 months in advance.

Read more: Alexander Springs: Easy scenic paddling; lots of wildlife

Directions to Alexander Springs: From SR 40 at Astor, take Butler Street to CR 445A, and turn left on CR 445. The recreation area is 5.8 miles south on the right.  


clearwater lake campground
Clearwater Lake Campground (USDA Photo)
Open all year

Clearwater Lake Campground

Clearwater Lake Campground is on the southeastern edge of the Ocala National Forest, about 17 miles from Mount Dora, and features shaded and private lakefront sites accommodating motor homes, trailers and tents. No hookups, but flush toilets and showers are available and water spigots are located throughout the campground. A dish-washing station is available in both loops. Campsites have level parking pads and space for tents. There is a lovely 1.3-mile nature trail around the lake, hike a portion of the Florida Trail, or ride your bicycle on the off-road Paisley Woods Bicycle Trail, a 22-mile loop through the forest.

Things to do: Canoe and kayak (rentals available), fishing, swimming beach, hiking, off-road bicycle trail. Sites: 42. Tent or RV. No hookups. Camping Fee: $22.50 per night. Usage: Medium-Heavy. Facilities: Picnic tables, fire rings, and grills. Potable water, dump station available. Restrooms with showers. Firewood is available. The small town of Paisley is a mile away, with camping supplies, a post office, and a library with Internet access. Pets: OK. Reservations: Some first-come, first-serve sites may be available. To reserve a site, call 1-877-444-6777 or book online up to 6 months in advance.

Directions to Clearwater Lake: From the junction of SR 42 and SR 19 in Altoona, north of Mount Dora, drive 6.4 miles east on SR 42 towards Paisley. The entrance to the Clearwater Lake Recreation Area is on your left.



Open all year

Juniper Springs Campground

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 been named one of ReserveAmerica’s Top 100 Family Campgrounds in the United States, and there is plenty of competition for a campsite. While the sites have no hookups, they are heavily shaded and heavily booked. Reserve your site well in advance, and stay on top of cancellations.

Things to do: Canoe and kayak (rentals available), swimming, hiking, off-road bicycle trails. $6 launch fee if you bring your own kayak. Sites: 79 sites, including 19 tent-only. RVs up to 35 feet. No hookups. Camping Fee: $22 per night. Usage: Heavy. Facilities: Picnic table, fire ring, grill and lantern post at each site. Share water spigots. Dump station. Rest rooms with hot showers. The concession sells snacks, groceries, charcoal, firewood, ice and novelties. Pets: OK in campground. Reservations: Call 1-877-444-6777 or book online up to 6 months in advance.  

Read more: Fab kayaking on pristine Juniper Spring Run

Directions to Juniper Springs: On State Road 40 between Mill Dam and SR 19, nine miles west of Astor and the St. Johns River.


Salt Springs Campground in Ocala National Forest
Salt Springs Campground. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Open all year

Salt Springs Campground

Salt Springs has the largest, most developed campground in Ocala National Forest, the only campground with full hookups at RV sites, and there’s lots of shade. The spring gets its name from minerals — potassium, magnesium, and sodium salts — giving the water a slight salinity. A large swimming area is cordoned off at the spring head before the water flows into a broad spring run that offers a scenic paddle to Lake George. The fishing here is exceptional, and the campground is the largest in Ocala National Forest. The concession at Salt Springs Marina rents paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, skiffs, and pontoon boats. Day-use admission is $6 per person.

Things to do: Boating, canoe and kayak (rentals available), swimming, snorkel, fishing, hiking, off-road bicycle trails. Sites: 106 tent or RV, 54 tent only. Full hookups. Camping Fee: $34/night with full hookups; $21 for seniors and Access passholders; $23/night for tents, no hookups. Usage: Heavy. Facilities: Picnic table, fire ring, grill and lantern post at each site. Full hookups. Dump station. Rest rooms with hot showers. Firewood available. Near a gas station, grocery store, several restaurants, bait and tackle shops, post office, laundromat and national forest visitor center. Pets: OK in campground. Reservations: Call 1-877-444-6777 or book online up to 6 months in advance.  



Directions to Salt Springs: State Road 19, north of State Road 40, which crosses the state from Ormond Beach to Ocala.


Remote Campgrounds

Rustic and wild


Big Bass Camp, Ocala National Forest
Big Bass Camp

Seasonal: Oct. 15-April 15

Big Bass Campground

The Big Bass Campground is the most southerly campground in the forest, close enough to hear road noise on State Road 42. Access to the campground is on an unpaved Forest Service road. Sites bare-bones with grills and fire pits. The campground is heavily wooded and not conducive to solar. Most sites are quite private, but not all. A good base camp for equestrians with horse trails nearby. Despite its name, there is no water for fishing, just a few small ponds. This is sandhill crane territory.

Things to do: Hiking, wildlife, equestrian. Four miles from the Ocklawaha River via CR 42. Sites: 18 sites, no hookups. RVs welcome. There are two new paved accessible campsites close to the restrooms. Camping Fee: $15/night. Usage: Light to medium. Facilities: Grills and fire pits. Dump station. Potable water available. Pets: OK in campground. Reservations: None. First come, first served. Self-checkin.


Directions to Big Bass Campground: 8.7 miles east of Weirsdale along CR 42; turn off CR 42 onto Forest Road 13. Watch for the sign on the left after you pass “Buck & Doe’s” store.


Big Scrub Campground. Photo courtesy National Forest Service
Big Scrub Campground. (Photo: USDA National Forest Service)
Closed on 10/10/2020 (usually open all year)

Big Scrub Campground

Not much to see here, but Big Scrub is popular for campers with off-road vehicles for a romp on Ocala National Forest’s designated off-road trails. The campground is essentially barren at a trailhead with campsite-to-trail access — not your destination for a quiet weekend in the forest. The campground has 47 sites without hookups for tents and RVs. There is a restroom and a bathhouse with hot showers with spigots for potable drinking water to fill your RV’s fresh-water tanks. An OHV Permit is required to use the trail system. The campground is on Forest Road 14, which is unpaved with soft, sandy spots.

Things to do: Off-road vehicle trails. Sites: 47 sites for tents or RVs. No hookups. Camping Fee: $20/night. Usage: Medium to Heavy. Facilities: Picnic tables, restrooms. Potable water available. No dump station. Pets: OK in the campground. Reservations: A handful of sites are first-come, first-served. Online at Recreation.gov, or by calling 1-877-444-6777, up to six months in advance. 



Closed (October 10, 2020)

Bluff Landing

Primitive camping on a bluff with access to Alexander Springs Run, but there are only three tent sites. On the positive side, camping here is free. There is a boat ramp. Popular with anglers and paddlers.

Things to do: Fishing, kayaking. Sites: 3 tent sites. Camping Fee: Free. Usage: Light to medium. Facilities: Boat ramp. Pets: OK in the campground. Reservations: First come, first served.

Directions to Bluff Landing: From Alexander Springs Recreation Area, drive north on County Road 445 towards Astor. Turn right onto Forest Road 18, an unimproved road, after you cross over Alexander Creek. Follow the road for nearly 2 miles to a turnoff on the right as FR 18 makes a sharp right off the main road. Continue another 2 miles or so down to the landing. FR 18 marks the western boundary of the Alexander Springs Wilderness.


ocalanf fore lake 15 campgrounds for exploring Ocala National Forest
Fore Lake campsite. (USDA photo)
Closed as of 10/10/2020 (Usually Open all year)

Fore Lake Campground

With 31 sites tucked in the shade of oaks and pines on Fore Lake, the campground is a quiet spot on the western edge of the Ocala National Forest for tents, motorhomes and travel trailers, but there are no hookups. Primarily a destination for anglers, the campground offers access to a boat ramp. Fore Lake is situated in the historic community of Scrambletown.

Things to do: Fishing. Sites: 31 sites for tent or RV. Camping Fee: $20/night, no hookups. Usage: Heavy. Facilities: Picnic table, fire ring, bathhouse with flush toilets and warm showers. Drinking water available. Dump station available. Boat ramp. A small grocery store is nearby on SR 314 in Scrambletown. Pets: OK in the campground. Reservations: Call 1-877-444-6777 or book online up to 6 months in advance.  

Directions to Fore Lake: Drive 5.1 miles north on SR 314 from Nuby’s Corner (junction of SR 40 and SR 314). Turn left at the Fore Lake sign and continue 0.7 miles to the recreation area.


ocalanf hopkins prairie 15 campgrounds for exploring Ocala National Forest
Hopkins Prairie (USDA Photo)
Seasonal: Oct. 1 until June 1

Hopkins Prairie Campground

An island of shady oaks amid sweeping grasslands, the Hopkins Prairie Campground is a seasonal destination for campers looking to get off the beaten path. It sits along the Florida Trail and offers opportunities for fishing and birding along miles of prairie shoreline. All 21 sites are well-shaded in an oak hammock surrounded by grasslands, affording most sites a view of the prairie. Kayak launch.

Things to do: Fishing, hiking the Florida Scenic Trail, birding. Sites: 21 Camping Fee: $15/ night. Usage: Heavy. Facilities: Hand pump for drinking water. Vault toilets. Nearby Salt Springs has groceries, restaurants, gas station, and outfitter. Pets: OK in campground. Reservations: None. First come, first served.

Directions to Hopkins Prairie: The turnoff for Hopkins Prairie is 9.2 miles north along SR 19 from the intersection with SR 40. Turn left and follow the signs, turning left, right, and left along unmarked, unimproved roads to reach the camping area.


onf lake delancey 15 campgrounds for exploring Ocala National Forest
Lake Delancey West camp site. (USDA Photo)
Open all year

Lake Delancey Campgrounds

Two campgrounds on Lake Delancey, which is a shallow, somewhat marshy body of water, cater to different users. Off-road vehicle enthusiasts and equestrians are restricted to the West Campground, where they have access to numerous OHV trails in the Ocala North OHV Trail System. The East Campground is more attractive to transient RV campers, although neither campground has any hookups. This recreation area also serves as a trailhead and designated campground along the hiking-only Florida Scenic Trail.

Things to do: OHV trails from the West campground. Fishing and kayaking in the East campground. Sites: East, 29 primitive sites for tents and trailers; West, unmarked primitive sites. Camping Fee: East, $15/night. West, $5/night. Usage: Heavy. Facilities: Boat ramp. Shaded picnic grounds and drinking water available in west. Pets: OK in the campground. Reservations: None. First come, first served.  

Directions to Lake Delancey: From Salt Springs, drive north along SR 19 for 5.7 miles to the “Lake Delancy” sign on the left side of the highway. Follow Forest Road 66 to the appropriate campground.


Lake Dorr campground
Lake Dorr campsite
Closed (October 2020)

Lake Dorr Campground

This 1,300-acre lake is popular for motorboats and water skiing, as well as fishing and kayaking. The campground is set in the shade of an oak hammock, not far from the Ocala National Forest Visitor Center in nearby Pittman. There is a small swimming beach. Lake Dorr has one of only two rental cabins in Ocala National Forest, a two-bedroom cabin with its own private boat ramp and a canoe.

Things to do: Fishing, picnicking and hiking. Sites: 34 sites for tent or RV. No hookups. Camping Fee: $20 per night for camping.; $5 boat launch fee. The cabin is $420 per weekend or $800 per week. Usage: Medium-Heavy. Facilities: Picnic tables, fire ring and a grill. Drinking water and a bathhouse. Boat ramp. No dump station. Pets: OK in campground. Reservations: No reservations. First come, first served.

Directions to Lake Dorr: Drive north along SR 19 from Altoona and watch for the sign on the right, across from the Pittman Visitor Center.


ocalanf lake eaton 15 campgrounds for exploring Ocala National Forest
Lake Eaton (USDA Photo)
Closed (Usually open Oct. 1 until June 1)

Lake Eaton Campground

Dense subtropical foliage on a 292-acre shallow lake, Lake Eaton is a prime destination for anglers and paddlers. The Lake Eaton Campground has only 14 sites, and getting requires patience and a vehicle that can handle a rutted, unimproved road. At the end of the journey, the reward is Lake Eaton Boat Launch and Pier, where you can launch a motor boat or a kayak from the unimproved ramp.

Things to do: Fishing. Sites: 13 tent or RV. No hookups. Camping Fee: $10/night for a single site; $15 for a double site. $5 fee for the boat ramp. Facilities: Picnic tables, fire ring, lantern post, boat ramp, fishing pier, vault toilets, no water. Groceries, hardware and gas six miles away. Pets: OK in campground. Reservations: Call 1-877-444-6777 or book onlin

Directions to Lake Eaton: South on CR 314-A from CR 314 for 2.5 miles. Turn left on Forest Road 44, an unimproved and deeply rutted road, and make a sharp left at the “Lake Eaton Campground” sign. At the corner of NE 171 Ave Rd and NE 61st Street Rd, continue straight through the recreation area gates. The campground gates are on the right.


ocalanf shanty pond 15 campgrounds for exploring Ocala National Forest
Shanty Pond. (USDA photo)
Seasonal: Oct. 15-Apr. 15.

Shanty Pond Campground

Shanty Pond is in the heart of the Big Scrub, south of Salt Springs off SR 19.  A favorite of equestrians, off-road bicyclists, hikers, and hunters, the campground has access to a large network of forest roads where horse are welcome.

Things to do: Horseback riding. Camping Fee: $10/night. Usage: Heavy. Facilities: Picnic tables, drinking water and toilets. Pets: OK in campground. Reservations: Call 1-877-444-6777 or book onlin


Read more: 6 things to do in Ocala National Park


Florida State Park Campgrounds

in Ocala National Forest

Two Florida State Parks with developed campgrounds are on the edges of Ocala National Park — Silver Springs on the west side, near Ocala, and the Rodman Campground on the north side.


Rodman Campground State Park
Rodman Campground (Florida State Parks photo)

Open All Year

Rodman Campground

A prime campground along the northern rim of Ocala National Forest on the Cross-Florida Greenway, Rodman Campground is a state park adjacent to bass-filled Rodman Reservoir. The campground has 60 sites in two campground loops, including 34 RV or tent sites with electric and water hookups with another 26 sites for tents only without hookups. The newer loop has 10 fabuloous sites that back up to a hill and face the water. All the sites are shady and comfortably spaced for a modicum of privacy. Within the campground, there is boat ramp access to Rodman Reservoir with access to the St. Johns river from Rodman Reservoir through Buckman Lock. Within the campground, there is boat ramp access to Rodman Reservoir with access to the St. Johns river from Rodman Reservoir through Buckman Lock.

Things to do: Bicycling, fishing, birding, boating, hiking, mountain biking, wildlife.  Sites: 64 sites, including 38 with electric and water hookups; 26 primitive tent sites. Camping Fee: $22 with hookups; $12, tent only. Facilities: Picnic tables, fire ring, and lantern posts. A dump station, picnic pavilions, and boat ramps are in the campground. Pets: OK in campground. Reservations: Book online up to 11 months in advance.  


Silver Springs State Park: Wonderful kayaking is just the start of why this is one of the best Florida state parks. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Silver Springs State Park: Wonderful kayaking is just the start of why this is one of the best Florida state parks. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Open All Year

Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park is an exceptionally beautiful and historic attraction that has been tastefully preserved. Once a private attraction, the state of Florida took over in 2013, merging it with a neighboring state park and preserving one of the most exquisite slices of Florida natural beauty anywhere. The classic glass-bottom boat tour, which began in 1878, continues. Canoes and kayaks allow you to enjoy pristine scenery and wildlife on one of Florida’s most beautiful kayak trail. Fifteen miles of lovely forest trails can be walked or ridden on mountain bikes. Each of the park’s 50 campsites is unusually large and surrounded by vegetation for privacy. 

Things to do: Bicycling, mountain biking, glass-bottom boat tours, boating, geo-seeking, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking (rentals available), birds, and wildlife.  Sites: 59 RV or tent sites with 50-amp electric and water hookups. Sites 20 & 53 are fully accessible with paved pads and sidewalks leading to both of the campground bathhouses. Camping Fee: $24/night for campsites; Cabins: $110. Non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee (per booking). Facilities: All sites have a fire ring, barbecue grill, and picnic table. Firewood is available for purchase. Pets: OK in the campground. Reservations: Book online up to 11 months in advance.  

Read More: Silver Springs State Park: Famous spring plus cabins, hiking, history

Read More: Kayaking Silver Springs: Exquisite trail for kayaks is highlight of Silver River

Directions to Silver Springs State Park: From the city of Ocala, take State Road 40 east 7 miles to the park entrance.


3 Comments

  1. as of 10-9-20 most of the forest service campgrounds are closed ( lake Eaton, shanty pond, fore lake and big scrub. Hopkins parrie is open possible. call the forest service before heading out.

    • Thanks for the heads up, Dan! Shanty Pond is scheduled to open on Oct. 15, so I’ll check back and fix if that doesn’t happen. The others you mention should be open but are not. I corrected this guide until I get clarification from the forest service.

  2. A terrific resource for accuracy in planning.

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