Skip to Content

Florida State Parks adding $7/day utilities fee for camping, cabins

Last updated on June 18th, 2021 at 02:32 pm

A new Florida State Parks campground reservations system is online after moving off ReserveAmerica.

As part of the transition, Florida State Parks is adding a $7 per day utilities fee to campsites and cabins with electric and water hookups. It marks the first increase in camping fees at state parks since 2009, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the state park system.

The new fee has still not been implemented. I booked a site on June 18 and was not charged, but that could change any day.

“DEP is actively working with the vendor to get this fee change incorporated into the new system. Once the fee is made active, it will automatically apply to all future camping reservations,” assistant press secretary Alexandra Kuchta said on Friday.  Existing reservations will not be affected.

If you want to plan a camping trip to Florida State Parks, I suggest you book those campsites now before the new fee is activated. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance, and the fee will not be implemented retroactively.

The new reservation system is online at https://reserve.floridastateparks.org and is accessible from all pages on the Florida State Parks web site.

You will need to create a new account if you did not already have a reservation pending after May 24, the date of the transition. If you already had a reservation after that date, your account and reservation should have transferred.

I found the new site easy to navigate (as of June 18). Finding available campsites at specific parks was easy and intuitive, and it offered a visual campground map with site availability once you select your dates.

It’s easy to find available campsites once you pick your dates.

You might be disoriented the first time you use the new reservation site because it’s different from ReserveAmerica. Many of our readers have reported problems, but once you get used to it, I found the experience is improved.

If you do have problems online, we recommend you book your campsite reservation by phone at 1-800-326-3521.

ReserveAmerica has also been dropped by Florida’s federal campgrounds at national parks, forests and seashores, turning over reservation responsibilities to local private entities. The federal parks reservations web site remains at recreation.gov.

Other changes include a two-night minimum for state park cabin rentals. Prior to May 24, the two-night minimum stay for cabins only applied to weekends.

Let us know in the comments below if you like (or don’t like) what they’ve done to “improve” the system.


Should we be upset about the $7 utility fee?

The $7 daily utility fee and recent changes in the cancellation policy could discourage snowbirds from loading up on campground reservations at state parks as they develop winter itineraries, only to cancel overlaps when their itineraries take shape. Once a reservation is made, the account holder must now wait 18 days before a cancellation can be made, and duplicate bookings on the same dates are blocked.

Between the $7 daily utility increase, the blackout period on cancellations, and the $17.50 cancellation fee implemented two years ago, overbooking becomes costly, likely resulting in more availability to others. A common complaint, particularly among Florida residents, is the lack of availability while witnessing empty, unused campsites.

By itself, the $17.50 cancellation fee may actually discourage cancellations, but now there’s more at stake with the price of campsites going up another $7 per night for the utility fee. There is more incentive now to pause before making a reservation that you might have to cancel later.

Personally, I think the $7 daily utility fee is appropriate and long overdue. As a Florida resident over 65, I get a 50% discount on the base camping rate for my travel trailer, reducing my nightly fee to as little as $10 at some parks, hardly enough to cover costs. I certainly use electricity, especially for air conditioning in the hot Florida sun. Water, electric and sewer service to my campsite all require expensive infrastructure to install and maintain.

State parks are a far better camping experience than most private campgrounds, which charge three times as much — or more.



Let us know about your experience with the new reservations site in the comments below.

A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm details when planning your trip by following the links in this article.

This article is the property of FloridaRambler.com and is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. Re-publication without written permission is against the law.


Comments Welcome

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Joe Clark

Thursday 16th of December 2021

Electricity fee does not apply to tent campers, per https://www.floridastateparks.org/plan-your-visit/faqs?f%5B0%5D=question_type%3A87. I'm cool with that.

Rj

Sunday 21st of November 2021

An additional 128 dollars for a 2 week stay wow

Richard

Tuesday 16th of November 2021

The increase in fees is not a jump for joy thing. I am willing to pay this fee if it goes for utilities and improvements to the parks. This revenue source will find many hands out for this revenue. Is it's spending restricted to park utilities and park improvements?

thomas j semling

Monday 10th of January 2022

@Rj, The new Florida reserve Web.system STINKS compared to Reserve America. I spend about 45 days at various Florida campgrounds so looking at spending more than $300 of Wisconsin money !!

Rj

Sunday 21st of November 2021

@Bob Rountree, I propose you pay my $7 fee since you like it so much. I am sure not happy about it. What if they raise your housing taxes because you're driving more on the road in front of your house? I won't say it's not justified because I don't know the facts but $7 per day additional in comparison to what it was last year is a lot I could understand if they added an additional $2 for a couple of years and then a couple years later $2 but to get a $7 whack each day immediately is a bit much

Bob Rountree

Wednesday 17th of November 2021

Richard, I don't think there are any restrictions on how the new revenue is used, although the implication is that it's needed to maintain those utilities. Personally, I think it's justified. I just completed a six-week East Coast camping trip. Florida's State Parks were among the lowest fees of any state park I visited, even with the $7 utility fee.

Cheryl

Monday 6th of September 2021

We have been camping in Florida during Winter months for 10 years using Reserve America online for reservations. This new system is horrible. It is extremely hard to navigate and often makes it necessary to renter information if we change our search. and only allows one small window to view nearby parks that may have availability.

Bob Rountree

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

Hi Cheryl, I also had trouble getting used to the new system, particularly the shortcuts nobody tells you about. It certainly takes some adjustment. I learn more every time I go in there, though, and it does get easier. Watch out for those new utility charges! At $7 a day, they add up wickedly fast. Good luck! -- Bob Rountree

Dennis Beek

Friday 20th of August 2021

I just was told there would be a $7.00 per day utilities charge for a camp site at Shangri-la Trailhead State Park. I told the reservationist there is no electric no sewer no water and you're going to charge me $7 a day for utilities? They said yes. I said thank, you have a good night, goodbye.

I know why there is only a couple sites book and you can have your choice of any site you want.

My electric bill my three bedroom two bath ranch home in Florida last month was $48 this month it will be $62. And it's August. I could understand a $2-2.50 surcharge for electric, but give us a break.

If the Florida State Parks wish to commercialize concessions to private corporations, and campgrounds than it might be time to look elsewhere. The history of the CCW, program development of Florida Lands to be enjoyed by the public is fading to corporations.

Comments Welcome

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.