If you’re looking for a way to enjoy some classic camping fun, boondocking is a great alternative to the modern camping experience! This style of dry camping brings you back to the basics of just about everything and lets you concentrate on what is going on around you.
When you go boondocking in Florida, there are plenty of places to stay: from the impressive natural vaults of the trees in the Picayune Strand State Forest in the southwest to the beach that is within easy striking distance of Tomoka State Park on the east. We have picked 19 of the best options for you to try some Florida boondocking!
Boondocking in Eastern Florida
Tomoka State Park
One of the great things about Tomoka Beach State Park is the Tomoka River, which offers freshwater fishing and kayaking. Another is that while you can certainly get away from it all at Tomoka, it’s not completely remote; it’s right near Daytona Beach, so it’s close to a whole lot of amenities and attractions. This is a highly rated campground, so you will need to book a spot as far in advance as possible. The campsites are relatively close together, but the greenery between the spots makes them quite private.
Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park is described as a “haven” for both visitors and the resident wildlife alike. In the spread of beaches and related habitats that span 1,600 acres, you will surely be able to see many different types of animals, birds, and tiny creatures to thrill and fascinate. The campground is close to the beach and does have hookups available, but this is also a great place for boondocking in Florida.
Boondocking in Southwest Florida
Picayune Strand State Forest
Picayune Strand State Forest is about 2 miles from Naples, so it is close enough to a city to buy what you may need. It is located in the Big Cypress Basin, which is a treasure of cypress strands, wet prairie, and Pine Flatwoods. The cypress trees can be viewed from the Sabal Palm Hiking trail, where you may be lucky enough to see a woodpecker. Take your bikes and you will be able to explore the whole area on the forest roads and trails.
Potts Preserve has five campsites available for boondocking, and you will definitely enjoy your stay in this lovely location. You can stay for up to seven days before you’ll have to move on to another location. Birding and hiking will bring you closer to the interesting species of wildlife that live in Potts Preserve, including Florida scrub jays, which is an endangered species. Other activities in the preserve include paddling, fishing, and boating. If you are a horse lover, then bring your horse along and explore the preserve along the designated trails.
Boondocking in Southern Florida
Dinner Island Ranch Wildlife Management Area
Dinner Island is in Southern Central Florida, near Lake Okeechobee. There are two camping areas; one is an open field, but you will be able to find a shaded sight at Hammock Camp. A short venture away from your campsite will give you the chance to see some of the wildlife in the area. You will need to be cautious of the alligators, though.
Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area
When you camp in Rotenberger, you’ll need to be fully prepared to manage your own amenities if you choose boondocking over full hookup camping. In addition to the peace of camping, the area has plenty of activities to enjoy, including fishing, viewing the wildlife, cycling, or hiking. There is an emphasis on the restoration of the area, so you’ll be given plenty of educational opportunities while staying here!
Big Cypress National Preserve
There are seven established campgrounds at Big Cypress National Preserve, three of which only accept tents. In addition to this, you can dry camp elsewhere in the area, provided you have the necessary Backcountry Camping Permit, which is free and no hassle to obtain.
Because this is backcountry camping, it’s unlikely that vehicles will be able to get into the more remote areas, which means you’ll have to explore on foot while carrying all your goods—otherwise known as backpacking. Make sure you research the details of what is allowed at Big Cypress before heading there.
Curry Hammock State Park
Although the campsites at Curry Hammock have electrical hookups, you don’t have to use them, and this is a great place for boondocking in Florida. Near the campsites, you’ll find a sandy beach and trails you can hike. Exploring the many mangrove swamps on foot or cruising through on a boat is exciting and fun. The slogan for Curry Hammock is “Uninhabited, untouched, and unrivaled”, which just about sums it up. If you’re looking to reconnect with nature, this is truly the place to do it.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The beauty and intrigue of a coral reef are something you have to experience at least once. At John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, you can go snorkeling and enter the underwater world for a time, or you can look from above while you sail over the reef in a glass-bottomed boat. The campground at John Pennekamp has available hookups, but boondocking is about doing things more simply, and the rough-and-ready nature of the setting makes this possible.
Boondocking in Central Florida
Buck Lake Campground
This campground is without a doubt the best place for a group to get together to go boondocking in Florida. There is no hookup available, but there is a vault toilet and a hand pump for water, so this is truly more primitive camping. Around the campsite, the Ocala National Forest stretches for 383,000 acres, so there certainly is plenty of land to explore. Take a hike and see what birds and other wildlife you can spot. You will want to be sure to take your binoculars along.
Alexander Springs Campground
In the middle of the Ocala National Forest in Central Florida is one of the most attractive places to choose for boondocking in Florida. The Alexander Springs campsite is set up for dry camping, with no electrical, water, or sewer hook-up, but there are hot showers and a dump station. There are also other basic amenities, like picnic tables and drinking water.
Some of the campsites can be booked, but there are also some that are run on a first-come, first-served basis. Visiting Alexander Springs means you can get right back to the basics and spend some quality time with yourself and those you love in nature.
Baptist Lake Dispersed Camping
One of the very best places to head to for some Florida boondocking is Baptist Lake Dispersed Camping. One of the major attractions is Ocala National Forest, where you can get up close and personal with the forest. Other attractions in the area include horseback riding, bowling, and access to water at the Gator Bay Marina. Closer to home base, you can take a stroll along the banks of Baptist Lake, or just spend time in and around your campsite, enjoying the solitude and beauty on offer.
Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area
In the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, there are campsites that have been specifically identified for boondocking. You will need to get a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to be able to camp for free, and you can’t book a site, so be sure to get there early! This is a quiet option for dry camping and can be a bit of an adventure; the sites aren’t marked, so you will need to explore a bit to find your own site.
The Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area is managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is about as good as a billboard telling you what to expect when you visit. Keep in mind that you do need to have the correct licenses to hunt or fish. With plenty of beautiful scenery and enough wood up for grabs to make a really great bonfire, this is the place to get together with friends and family and to enjoy being out and about.
Grassy Pond Recreation Area
Grassy Pond is another destination in the Ocala National Forest, where you’ll find some lovely campsites to choose from for your Florida boondocking trip. Camping works on a first-come first-served basis, so just be sure you have a Plan B in place if you head for Grassy Pond. If you are looking for a real opportunity to relax and rejuvenate, you do have the option to camp here for up to two weeks. Just make sure you have everything you need and will be able to see to your facilities for that time.
Boondocking in Northwest Florida
Murphy Creek Conservation Area
The campground at Murphy Creek is described as being “primitive,” which means it is the perfect place for boondocking in Florida. There are designated campsites that you can turn into your temporary home away from home.
The river runs through the conservation area, so there are plenty of opportunities for exploring on land and water. If you have a boat, this is definitely the place to head for. You can also visit Murphy Island. Activities in Murphy Creek Conservation Area include hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. There is also plenty of wildlife for you to view, including white-tailed deer, gopher tortoises, and maybe even a bobcat!
Boondocking in the Panhandle
Pine Creek Landing
The campground at Pine Creek Landing is another primitive campground, making it another clear choice for some Florida boondocking. Except for the hunting season, you can camp anywhere in the forest for free. There is no hook-up for RVs, and you will need to be completely self-sufficient. If you are looking for some action, there are places nearby for biking, fishing, and boating. The greatest thing about Pine Creek, though, is being able to tramp through the Apalachicola National Forest to enjoy the serenity and the beauty of the trees.
Boondocking in the Southern Panhandle
Dead River Landing Recreation Area
At Dead River, the campsites have no electrical, water, or sewage hookups, so it’s perfect for a Florida boondocking trip. The sites must be reserved and there is a fee, which you will need to research before heading this way. The Recreation Area itself is on the Choctawhatchee Designated Paddling Trail. It is also rich in fish, such as largemouth bass, bream, and catfish, so sitting by the water and waiting for a bite is a really good attraction for fishing enthusiasts.
Mack Landing Campground
Situated on the ridge above Ochlockonee River, Mack Landing campground commands a wonderful view. The sites are quite well spread out, and there is no hookup available. The water is drinkable and there are non-flush toilets. The sites work on a first-come-first-served basis. Take note that Mack Landing is open all year round for visitors, but it is a popular hunting camp during gun season, so you should plan your visit accordingly. Apart from hunting, this is a great spot for boating and fishing. You will need to check up on the boating regulations in the State of Florida.
Final Thoughts About Boondocking in Florida
The greatest thing about boondocking is that you are not tied down—literally! The greatest thing about boondocking in Florida is that you’re spoiled for choice between lovely locations, appealing campsites, and a variety of attractions. This is really the only way to achieve a classic camping vacation in the Sunshine State. The only thing you need to do is pick the spot that suits you best. Then, the vacation is yours to be had!
Looking for more camping options in Florida? Check out some of our other Florida camping guides: