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New in 2024: Florida residents can book state parks camping before anyone else

Florida residents enjoy a new 30-day reservations advantage at Florida State Parks with camping and cabins, effective January 1, 2024.

Included are cabins, RV sites, tent, boat and equestrian camping but not primitive backcountry sites or ‘glamping’ at parks that offer it.

The new law allows Florida residents to book sites up to 11 months in advance, while non-residents will only have a 10-month advance reservation window.

Florida State Parks operates 65 campgrounds within its award-winning 175-park system, and most are booked solid well in advance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prove eligibility?

When booking a campsite through the Florida State Park campground registration system, Florida residents will be asked to register a valid Florida driver’s license number or state ID card number.

Your license or state ID will be matched against records maintained by Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. If residency is confirmed, you will be immediately allowed to proceed with your reservation.

Verification will be required annually, and proof of eligibility is required upon arrival at the campground.

State Parks Reservation web site: reserve.floridastateparks.org

How do I register?

You can register in advance or when you book a campsite through the Florida State Parks reservation system, reserve.floridastateparks.org, or by phone, 800-326-3521.

If you already have an account, you can log into your account at any time and go through the simple verification process. By registering in advance, you save time later.

Can a resident reserve a campsite for someone else?

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

Florida residents will be asked to produce a drivers license or state ID, which includes your photograph, and it must match the reservation.

Non-compliance will result in being turned away at the gate, and violations may also lose their right to make future reservations.

Do Florida residents enjoy preference at state forests and national parks?

No. The resident-preference rule does not apply to campground reservations in Florida State Forests, national parks or national forests, nor does it apply to public campgrounds managed by city and county parks.

Many county parks have their own advanced booking rules, including county resident preferences for advance bookings. Other county and municipal parks do not accept advance reservations, which gives local residents an advantage.

Do Florida seniors still get a discount?

Yes. Florida residents 65 and over are entitled to a 50% discount on the base camping rate at Florida state parks with camping. The discount does not apply to the $7 daily utility fee adopted last year, nor does it apply to cabin rentals.

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

Why did the rules change?

Residents have long felt disadvantaged by the crush of visitors from out of state who snap up campsites for prime tourist seasons. Most state park campgrounds are sold out minutes after sites become available.

Visitors from out of state counter that they pay the bills through sales and tourist taxes, not to mention spending in support of local businesses and jobs. They prefer a level playing field.

The Florida state legislature, responding to pressure from voters, passed legislation allowing resident preferences in 2023, and it was signed into law by Gov. DeSantis.

Any other changes?

A two-night minimum is now required for cabin rentals in Florida State Parks.

In the past, the two-night minimum only applied to weekends.

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

Read more about the Best Campgrounds in Florida


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John

Thursday 14th of December 2023

This is a good thing for Florida residents and should have been done years ago. We are full time residents and we can never get a campsite in the winter time. It is a know fact that many out of state and people from Canada double book multiple weeks at State Campgrounds and cancel if they don't like campground or weather where they are at. We have talked with serval people that readily admitted that to us. It is why you see so many empty sites in campgrounds during the week in the winter. We are annual Park Pass holders and make a lot a day trips to State Parks wishing we could bring our camper and stay longer. Maybe now we can.

Wally Zinck

Wednesday 6th of December 2023

Residents will reserve all the weekends and leave weekdays vacant. Non-residents will not be able come at all if they can only book weekdays. This is entirely predicable and will hurt the tourist business that is so important to Florida. I assume that this will be our last winter to visit Florida.

Debra

Monday 1st of January 2024

@Wally Zinck, you are wrong on that point. I tried getting several state park cabins in the panhandle - to no avail and I'm a resident...

john

Thursday 14th of December 2023

@Wally Zinck, No so, many out of state and out of country double book sites in different State campgrounds months in advance and cancel if they decide they don't like the campground or that part of the sate. Many campers from Canada do this every year. That is why you see so many empty sites at State parks during the winter. Being a full time Florida resident we can never go camping in our state in the winter because there is never a campsite open, Because we are retired we only book from Sunday until Friday mornings so families can have the week end.

Colleen Richardson

Saturday 25th of November 2023

Well from years of travelling to the state parks i am really dissapointed. I find that the problem is that there is no one following up on the empty sites and penalizing the people that leave the site empty. No one drives around to check the sites and the system is never correct. 5 sites had 4 vehicles in 1 spot for 2 days. Wheres the rule enforcement? Many people i have talked to will no longer be coming to your parks and you will loose alot of money from travellers. Sure your weekends will be filled by florida residents which is at a diacounted price but it doesn't compare to what you will loose on a weeks income from out of states travellers. All you are doing ia penalizing people who are not actually part of the problem.

Patricia Leeds

Saturday 2nd of December 2023

@Colleen Richardson, a lot of generalizations there. Not sure specifically which park you're referring to, but it's nothing new to see an occasional rude or non-compliant camper as far as parking and I highly - highly - highly doubt that it's making Florida parks at all less desirable to non-residents of our state. If it affects you or a few of your friends, fine, but there are hundreds if not thousands of people vying for the spot you don't reserve.

As far as vacant sites, I agree as a camper struggling to find a good site only to see a great one sitting vacant is frustrating, but the camper paid for it and has a right to be there at any point during the reservation. There is a rule that you have to be onsite the first night of the reservation but being realistic, a lot of things happen that could prevent that, and when it happens to us, I call the ranger station and let them know. I agree it could be a good idea to, for example, have to forfeit a site if you do not occupy the site by the 2nd day of the reservation.

I am happy to pay the increased fees (long overdue) and will gladly do whatever it takes to help keep our beautiful state parks clean and open and operating safely. All of my camping friends feel the same way. Those who don't can and should camp elsewhere :)

Gary

Sunday 28th of May 2023

As an out of state person, I understand the issue and see reservations as an issue everywhere I have looked. I’m from Alabama and have been coming to the Destin area for 15 years are better in late Spring/early Summer and play strictly by the rules with reservations, well within all the rules. We enjoy it, so we will continue to try for a site. They are already hard to get and usually require multiple attempts. I see where third parties snapping up the reservations are an issue, much like they do with concert tickets. What a shame.

Anna

Wednesday 13th of September 2023

@Gary, Let the tourist stay at the over priced private campgrounds and let the taxpayers in Florida have access to their Parks.

Tim

Thursday 18th of May 2023

I am a Florida Disabled Veteran and a senior citizen and since the reservation system took affect many disabled individuals my self included do to ongoing medical conditions and appointments are now denied the use of State Campgrounds especially during prime season. Disabled individuals do not have to ability to make reservations months in advance they need to have access on a daily basis or with a minimal time frame for reservations. Whatever happened to FF sites? It seems the entire system is in violation of the American with Disability Act and needs to be changed. At least this is the start in the right direction. Let the tourist stay at the over priced private campgrounds and let the taxpayers in Florida have access to their Parks.

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