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A Guide to Florida State Parks Camping

Home to 114 state parks, Florida is the perfect destination for the all-season camper. Most of the state’s parks are on a body of water, with many located right on the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico or just a short drive away, allowing you to enjoy a tropical paradise while camping.

Florida’s weather and tropical animals can be unpredictable, so this guide is intended to ensure you stay safe and maximize your fun in the sun while camping at Florida state parks.

Keep reading to learn what to expect while camping in Florida state parks, how to stay safe in the parks, what to pack, and how to select the best campsite for your Florida state parks camping trip.

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What to Expect When Camping in Florida State Parks

Florida state parks are home to some of the most idyllic settings in the United States, and they have just about every activity you can imagine.

You can expect to experience striking natural beauty and tropical wildlife, an abundance of water activities, rich history, horseback riding, and plenty of fun in the sun.

Many of these parks are close to popular restaurants and other attractions, making Florida state parks camping spots the perfect sites to sit back and relax in the evening after you’ve explored a Florida tourist destination during the day.

Most Florida state parks are open from 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year, making Florida the perfect all-season camping destination.

Tent camping at Dry Tortugas in Florida.
Camping at Dry Tortugas in Florida.

Making Reservations for Florida State Parks Camping

Florida State Park camping reservations are easy to make up to eleven months in advance or on the same day of arrival before 1 p.m. All campsites not reserved, including cabins, are available on a first-come-first-serve walk-in basis.

You must pay in advance at the time of reservation, and prices are subject to change without notice. Learn more about reserving Florida state parks camping spots, including the phone number to call and the link to make reservations online.

Packing for Your Florida State Parks Camping Trip

You need all the usual camping essentials when packing for a Florida state parks camping trip, but remember Florida weather can be unpredictable.

Pack appropriate clothing for hot weather in the warmer months. Note Florida’s average temperatures throughout the year can vary, with January ranging from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to the low 70s. If you’re traveling in the winter months, remember to pack layers.

The summer months can bring scorching heat that will leave you in a bathing suit as much as possible. Pack several bathing suits, or plan to visit a swimsuit shop in Florida.

Remember to be mindful of the hurricane forecast, especially if your visit is during Florida’s hurricane season: June 1 through November 30.

Tent campsite at Bahia Honda State Park.  Florida state parks camping has something for camper!
Camping in Florida at Bahia Honda State Park.

It’s a good idea to pack a weather radio in case you lose phone service. The FosPower 2000mAh NOAA Emergency Weather Radio is a great choice because it also acts as a solar charger and flashlight.

Florida State Parks Camping Activities

Florida state parks include many amenities and activities for parkgoers and campers. Most parks are pet-friendly. To learn which camping activities are available at specific state parks, click on the amenities on the Florida State Parks Experiences and Amenities page.

Water Activities

Camping in Florida state parks and not enjoying the countless water activities feels like a crime! Boating, snorkeling, paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking are just a few common water activities found in Florida state parks.


Try surfing for the first time or brush up on your craft at the best state parks for surfing: Force Pierce Inlet State Park, Gasparilla Island State Park (an island, only accessible by ferry), or Honeymoon Island State Park (an island, accessible by boat or land bridge).


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Florida is home to both freshwater and saltwater fish. The best state parks for freshwater fishing are Kissimmee State Park and Ochlockonee River State Park. If you prefer saltwater fishing, head over to Werner-Royce Salt Springs State Park or Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.


River tubing is an exciting adventure down Florida’s rivers and springs. Two of the best locations for tubing at Florida state parks are Ichetucknee State Park and Rainbow Springs State Park.


Be sure to swim only at swimming-safe beaches, rivers, and lakes during your Florida state parks camping trip. The best spots for swimming are at the following Florida state parks:

  • De Leon Springs State Park
  • Anastasia State Park
  • Big Lagoon State Park
  • Troy Springs State Park
  • Madison Blue Spring State Park
  • Hillsborough River State Park


Let your eyes be enthralled by the sights Florida state parks have to offer!


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The best spots for shelling are at, no surprise, Florida’s island state parks. These parks include:

  • Little Talbot Island State Park (only accessible by boat)
  • Amelia Island State Park (accessible by scenic bridge or ferry)
  • Caladesi State Park (only accessible by boat)


Florida’s Ravine Gardens State Park offers the best dramatic garden views, especially from January to March during the azalea season.


Visit Tomoka State Park or Black River State Park to explore popular birdwatching trails, including over 160 species of feathered friends.

Tours (Including Boat Tours)

Enjoy a historic boat tour at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park down the Wakulla Springs. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park also has frequent interpretations and ranger-guided walking tours.


Bill Baggs State Park is famous for its historic 1825 Cape Florida Lighthouse. Access to the lighthouse is only available during special tour times.

Camping Experiences

Florida offers a variety of traditional and unique camping experiences to state park visitors.


Check out these Florida state parks for parking your RV:

  • Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
  • Jonathan Dickinson State Park
  • Hillsborough River State Park
  • Falling Waters State Park
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If you’re looking for a nice cabin to stay at during your Florida state parks camping trip, look into one of these state parks:

  • Lake Louisa State Park
  • Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
  • Lafayette Blue Springs State Park

Primitive Camping

Florida state parks offer tons of primitive camping options. Check out some of these popular tent camping locations:

  • Myakka State Park
  • O’Leno State Park
  • Oscar Scherer State Park

Boat Camping

Six Florida state parks provide boat slips with water and electricity. Boat campers have access to all the park’s amenities, including restrooms and showers. These parks include:

  • Bahia Honda State Park
  • Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park (anchor overnight option)
  • Caladesi Island State Park Island (only accessible by boat)
  • Cayo Costa State Park
  • Hontoon Island State Park Island (only accessible by boat or ferry)
  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (anchor overnight option)
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Maybe you’re more of an upscale camper and prefer glamping. Florida is the perfect place for you, then. Check out these parks with luxury glamping options:

  • Lake Louisa State Park
  • Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
  • Lake Kissimmee State Park
  • Oleta River State Park

Group Gatherings

Many Florida state parks are also popular for picnicking, weddings, and family reunions. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West and Wakulla Springs State Park near Tallahassee are two of the most romantic spots to say, “I do” in Florida.

Horseback Riding

If you love horses and want to ride one, you will want to visit Lake Louisa State Park and Alafia River State Park. You can bring your horse, or purchase a ride on one from the stables at the parks.


Some of the best hiking spots in Florida are at these state parks:

  • Little Talbot Island State Park (island, only accessible by boat)
  • Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
  • Lake Kissimmee State Park
  • Little Manatee River State Park
  • Estero Bay Preserve State Park
  • Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Staying Safe While Camping in Florida State Park


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Florida sun can damage your skin in as little as fifteen minutes, and UV exposure is the most common cause of skin cancer. Do not forget sunscreen, and avoid sunscreens with less than SPF 30. You will want water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 50 when spending an entire day in the Florida sun.

Seek shade as much as possible during peak sun hours between noon and four p.m. This is a good time to relax in your tent or set up an awning at the beach to enjoy some reading or bird watching.

Wear full-body swim gear to minimize sun exposure to the skin when surfing or swimming during these timeframes.

Burn Bans

From time to time, Florida will enforce burn bans based on the current conditions. When you arrive for your Florida State Park camping trip, check the status of the burn bans. Burn bans are enacted for your safety, so it’s essential to follow these bans.

During burn bans, you cannot light a fire in a campfire ring or a freestanding fire pit. You can, however, bring a propane grill, a freestanding charcoal grill, or an electric grill or griddle (if your campsite has an electrical hookup).


Insects, especially mosquitos, can carry diseases like chikungunya, dengue, Zika, and West Nile virus. Wear insect repellent when outside to protect yourself. You should put your sunscreen on first, then spray your repellent.

Never spray repellent under clothing, and always follow the instructions on the bottle. Wear permethrin-treated clothing and sprays to prevent insect bites. Permethrin is an insecticide that kills mosquitoes.


Pay very close attention to your surroundings because Florida’s reptiles can be unpredictable. Every year the news reports new unprovoked alligator or crocodile attacks, averaging about eight each year. They also report on an astounding 300 venomous snake bites each year.

Crocodiles and Alligators

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Crocodiles and alligators reside in both freshwater and saltwater. It’s imperative to take posted signs warning of their existence seriously and to never go swimming in areas where they’re known to live. They are most dangerous during the breeding season, from May until July.

Your camp should be set up at least 164 feet from the water’s edge, and never leave food unattended that could attract alligators or crocodiles to your campsite. Store your food in tight containers and dispose of your trash far away from your campsite.

You should remain calm if you experience a crocodile or alligator encounter. Splashing or making noise will attract them to you.

If you are in the water, carefully and quietly get out of the water. Swim below the water to avoid splashing. Should you spot a crocodile on land, slowly back up to a safe distance and call wildlife authorities.


Snakes are most active in Florida from April to October.

There are four species of venomous snakes in the state: the dusky pygmy rattlesnake, the Florida cottonmouth, the eastern coral snake, and the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Each of these snakes is capable of life-threatening bites to humans.

Snakes are excellent at camouflage, so you need to watch your step when hiking in Florida state parks. Wear tall, thick boots, which can prevent a snake from making direct contact with you if you accidentally approach one.

In the event you or someone in your group experiences a snake bite, get away from the snake as soon as possible to prevent multiple severe bites and call for emergency help.

Loosen tight clothes to prevent discomfort from swelling and keep the bite area at heart level and wear a sling to avoid moving to limit blood flow to prevent spreading the venom. Apply a pressure bandage to the bite area.

Selecting the Best Campsite in Florida State Parks

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Camping in the Florida Everglades.

Florida state parks camping maps are easy to download online. On the Florida state parks website, click Find a Park. You can search for a park or browse through each park individually then click on the park’s page to learn more information.

Most parks have a Download Park Map button on the left sidebar that will open in a PDF when you click on it. Review each map to find the best sites before you leave for your Florida state parks camping trip.

Note: Not all Florida state parks have campgrounds, so first check that camping is listed as an experience on the park’s page. You can also search by Camping under the Experiences on the Find a Park page.

Review detailed campground maps by clicking on the Make a Reservation button.

Some things to look for on the maps’ legends:

  • Water sources: You want to stay close to water pumps, so you can easily replenish your water supply
  • Dumpsters: You want to stay far away from dumpsters because these can attract crocodiles and alligators, plus no one wants to smell trash on a hot day
  • Boat ramps: Some campgrounds have boat launches near their campgrounds for campers who have brought boats with them to enjoy the Florida waters–if this is you, then stay near a boat ramp.

Meal Planning While Florida State Parks Camping

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A beach picnic camping meal.

Meal planning is one of the most important parts of Florida State Park camping (or camping, in general). Since many Florida state parks are close to major cities and towns, you can easily venture out of the campground for a delicious restaurant meal or supplies for cooking at your campsite.

Check out this complete camping food list for planning, packing, and cooking, as well as our guide to cheap camping meals.

If you’re camping in Florida state parks during a warm period or a burn ban, you might want to consider packing a cooler full of cold cuts for sandwiches, yogurts, and cold drinks.

Try making overnight oats in your cooler for a yummy cold breakfast, or chicken salad sandwiches for an easy lunch. You could also bring a solar generator and use a portable blender to make smoothies.

Additional Helpful Resources

You can have the best Florida state parks camping experience by being prepared and making sure you know the rules of the parks before you visit. Also, know the events happening in the park during your travels or plan your trip around a special event to maximize your trip.

Check out these helpful links before you head out for your Florida state parks camping trip:

Florida State Parks Frequently Asked Questions

Florida State Parks Rules and Regulations

Florida State Parks Events

Make the Most of Your Florida State Parks Camping Trip!

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Camping in the Florida Everglades.

Camping at Florida state parks is an enjoyable experience for the camper who likes to enjoy the outdoors 365 days a year and doesn’t mind traveling to do so. You’re all set to start seeing what Florida state parks camping has to offer.

Looking for more Florida camping information? Check out 40 of the Best Places to Go Camping in Florida.