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Planning your Florida camping trip: Start yesterday.

Regular visitors know that planning a Florida camping trip in any season, but especially the busy winter season, takes advance planning.

The most popular campgrounds are in Florida State Parks, and they are the hardest to reserve. The mistake most people make is waiting too long.

RV sites are in greatest demand. Tent campers have more options, especially in wildlife refuges, forests and county parks.

To be successful building an itinerary, you have to start planning yesterday.

In this guide, we’ll help you plan your stay at hundreds of public campgrounds in Florida and point you towards some you didn’t know exist. Use the links for additional detail.

Camping in Florida State Parks

beach camping bahia honda sandspur campgrouond
The Sandspur Campground at Bahia Honda State Park allows recreation vehicles up to 23 feet. The oceanfront sites are hard to get — but so-o-o worth the effort. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)

The best place to start is find available campsites at your favorite state park for your available dates, then fill gaps in your itinerary later with national parks, state forests or county campgrounds.

There are 65 Florida state parks with campgrounds. State parks in premium tourist areas or on beaches are the most difficult to book, so go after them first.

To reserve a campsite in Florida’s state parks, start 11 months in advance — at 8 a.m. sharp — on the day sites first become available.

If you beat the first-day scramble, you can reserve the site for up to 14 nights. If you get closed out, resign yourself to returning day after day to mine the web site for cancellations, but such openings are just scraps, a day or two or three here and there.

The online reservations system is fairly intuitive, but you should learn how to navigate the web site before you need it — and set up your account in advance to eliminate that step when you’re ready to book a site.

Effective January 1, 2024, Florida residents will get first dibs on reservations 30 days before non-residents. This will cut the reservations window for non-residents to 10 months.

Depending on the park, rates range from $16 to $42 a night plus a $7 daily utility fee for electric, water and sewer hookups. State and local taxes are additional, as is a one-time $6.70 booking fee. Cancellation fee is $17. Cabin rentals range from $30 to $160 a night.

A 50% discount on the base rate is available Florida residents 65 and over, Florida residents possessing a current Social Security disability award certificate or a 100% disability award certificate from the federal government.

For campground reservations at Florida State Parks, go to reserve.floridastateparks.org

Read more about individual Florida State Parks

Camping in Florida State Forests

campground at Lake George State Forest
Shady, primitive campground at Lake George State Forest. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Fewer amenities and less security than state parks but loaded with scenic, backcountry ambience, Florida’s State Forests are hidden gems.

State forests are easier to book and cost less than state parks. Hiking, fishing, off-road bicycling, birding and kayaking are the big draw. Some state forests have equestrian campgrounds.

Only a few state forest campgrounds have hookups for recreational vehicles, and then rarely more than electric and a shared water spigot. Best avoided during gun-hunting season, November until January.

Primitive backcountry sites are $10 per night. Campgrounds without hookups are $15, and sites with electric are $25. Some forests offer group camping areas for $25 for groups up to 10 people and 4 vehicles, perfect for multiple families or couples traveling together.

Discounts are available for seniors, 100% disabled, veterans and active duty military.

To find and reserve a Florida state forest campsite, go to ReserveAmerica or call 877-879-3859.

Read more about camping at Lake George State Forest or Tiger Bay State Forest.

Camping in County and City Parks

huguenot park campsite 45
Our camp site (No. 45) at Huguenot Memorial Park on the St. Johns River. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Several Florida counties and cities host campgrounds every bit as awesome as Florida’s state parks. Some have all the amenities; others are more rustic.

County parks tend to favor local families through discounts and advance registration, but since locals focus on weekends, weeknights are usually available for travelers.

Reservation windows are often limited to 90 days, but that also makes them good choices for filling gaps in your itinerary later in the planning process.

Each county has its own rules and fee structure, so I won’t generalize. But I can point you in the right direction.

  • Brevard County (Cocoa Beach): 3 full-facility campgrounds with excellent security. brevardfl.gov
  • Broward County (Fort Lauderdale): 5 full-facility campgrounds with excellent security. broward.org/Parks
  • Chattahoochee City: Chattahoochee RV Campground & Fishing Resort. RV sites with full hookups ($35) and tent sites ($10) on Lake Seminole. chattahoocheefl.gov
  • Dixie County (Horseshoe Beach); 1 rustic beachfront campground with no security, Shired Island
  • Jacksonville City: 2 excellent beach campgrounds with very good security, Hanna Park and Huguenot Park.
  • Flagler County (Bunnell, Flagler Beach): 2 campgrounds with limited security, Bull Creek for RVs and tents and tents-only Princess Place
  • Hillsborough County (Tampa): 3 very nice county campgrounds with RV amenities and good security, and 2 primitive campgrounds. hillsboroughcounty.org
  • Indian River County (Sebastian): 1 campground with limited security, Donald MacDonald Park, for RVs and tents. ircgov.com
  • Levy County (Cedar Key): 1 rustic, beachfront campground with no security, Shell Mound Campground
  • Martin County (Stuart): 1 campground for RVs and Glamping with very good security. martin.fl.us/Phipps
  • Orange County (Orlando): 5 campgrounds, including one close to Disney World (Moss Park), with good security. orangecountyfl.net/CultureParks/Camping
  • Pasco County (New Port Richey): 1 campground for tents only with no security, Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park
  • Palm Beach County (West Palm Beach): 3 campgrounds with very good security. For rates and details, go to discover.pbcgov.org
  • Pinellas County (St. Petersburg): 1 very popular campground near beach with excellent security, Fort DeSoto. pinellas.gov/camping-information/
  • St. Lucie County (Port St. Lucie): 1 campground, Savannas Recreation Area, for RVS and tents with little security. For rates and details, go to stlucieco.gov

Read more about camping at our favorite county parks

Federal Campgrounds

Federal campgrounds are managed by various federal agencies, and most of them accept America the Beautiful access passes for discounts. Exceptions may be campgrounds managed by subcontractors, such as Everglades National Park.

Reservations.gov, the online booking site for most (not all) federal campgrounds, is experimenting with Campground Availability Alerts at selected campgrounds that allow you to select your desired dates and receive alerts when those dates become available.

The reservations window for booking sites at federal campgrounds is six months.

Camping in Florida’s National Parks

Eco-tents in Flamingo at Everglades National Park
The view from the eco-tents in Flamingo at Everglades National Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Florida is blessed with 11 national parks, six of which offer camping. Only three can accommodate recreational vehicles.

  • Big Cypress National Preserve: 5 campgrounds for RVs and tents; only one with hookups for RVs. Read more
  • Biscayne National Park: Primitive island camping; accessible only by boat. Read more
  • Everglades National Park: 2 full-service campgrounds for RVs and tents; ‘Glamping’ tents in Flamingo; multiple backcountry sites for tents and accessible only by boat. Read more
  • Canaveral National Seashore: Primitive tent beach camping only. Read more
  • Dry Tortugas National Park: Primitive island camping; accessible only by ferry. Read more
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore: 2 campgrounds for RVs and tents, Fort Pickens ($25/night) and Davis Bayou ($22/night). Discounts for annual pass holders.

Camping in National Forests

clearwater lake ocala national forest camping
Clearwater Lake Campground in Ocala National Forest. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Florida has three national forests: Ocala, Osceola and Apalachicola. All three are ideal destinations for viewing wildlife, hiking and bicycling, kayaking, fishing and experiencing a pure and natural Florida experience.

Ocala National Forest in Central Florida has the most developed campgrounds suitable for recreational vehicles, but only one, Salt Springs, has full hookups. Overall, Ocala features 13 developed campgrounds managed by the Forest Service and two state park campgrounds. Read our Ultimate guide to Ocala National Forest camping

Apalachicola National Forest in Florida’s Panhandle near Tallahassee has six developed campgrounds, but only three are suitable for recreational vehicles, Wright Lake, Camel Lake and Mack Landing. For details, go to Apalachicola National Forest.

Osceola National Forest in North-Central Florida has three developed campgrounds but only one, Ocean Pond, is suitable for recreational vehicles: 19 sites have electric and water hook-ups, 28 have only water hook-ups and 20 sites are primitive.

All three accommodate backpackers who enjoy dispersed tent camping. Nightly rates vary from $10 to $30.

Camping with the Army Corps of Engineers

w.p. franklin campground
W.P Franklin campground on the Okeechobee Waterway. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Florida has multiple navigable waterways managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for defense purposes, and the Corps manages three RV-friendly campgrounds in Florida

Three of the Corps campgrounds are along the cross-Florida Okeechobee Waterway, and one on Lake Seminole at the Florida-Georgia state line, where the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers converge to form Florida’s Apalachicola River.

Corps campgrounds are immaculate, as you might expect, and have tight security. All of them are waterfront and feature boat ramps. All four have water and electric hookups on concrete pads.

Reservations accepted up to 6 months in advance, and 50% discounts are available to holders of America the Beautiful annual and lifetime passes.

Ortona South: 51 RV or tent sites, $30/night. Near LaBelle, FL. Book it online.

St. Lucie South: 9 RV sites ($30), 8 dock sites for transiting boats ($30), 3 tent sites (No hookups, $20) near Stuart, FL. Experimental Campsite Availability Alerts are available through the reservations site. Book it here

W.P. Franklin: 30 waterfront RV/tent sites on an island. Alva, FL, near Fort Myers. $30/night. Book it here

Lake Seminole Eastbank: 65 sites, most with water and electric. Near Chattahoochee, FL. Book it here

Read more about Camping with the Corps

Camping in Florida’s Water Management Districts

Family tent campground at the Dupuis Wildlife Management Area
Family tent campground in the Dupuis Management Area. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Florida is divided into five water management districts, four of which offer camping but only a handful of those campgrounds, co-managed with other government entities, can accommodate recreational vehicles.

As you might expect, water is a dominant environmental feature at most of these campgrounds. Expect swamps, ponds and other wetlands, which excel in wildlife. Navigating their websites can be challenging, but the reward is free camping.

Southwest Florida WMD: 24 camping areas. Reservations are required, but there are no fees in camping areas managed solely by the district. Co-managed camping areas often have hookups and other amenities suitable for RVs.

St. Johns River WMD: Only primitive tent camping is allowed in the designated camping areas. Many of the camping areas are remote and can only be reached by hiking, bicycling, boating or horseback. Reservations (no fees) are required at least 24 hours in advance for 24 camping areas.

South Florida WMD: Recreational vehicles are permitted at only one campground, the Dupuis Management Area. Tent campers have access to 27 camping areas. There is no fee for camping, but a free special use permit may be required for access.

Northwest Florida Water Management District: The district has 29 camping areas, none of which allow recreational vehicles; pop-up campers are allowed at two. While camping is free, reservations are required.

Suwannee Water Management District: No camping, but other recreational activities are available.

Read more about camping in the Corbett and Dupuis wildlife areas

Camping in Florida Wildlife Refuges

fisheating creek
Campsite at Fisheating Creek Outpost off U.S. 27 near Palmdale.
Permits required by reservation

Follow links to individual wildlife management areas hunting season dates, information and rules.

No Reservations, First come, first served

Read more about camping and kayaking at Fisheating Creek

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