If you’re looking for your next big adventure, give primitive camping a try. Get outside and into nature while giving up modern commodities such as electricity and running water. Primitive camping is a great way to clear your mind and recharge your batteries. It’s also a great way to spend time with your friends and family while reconnecting with mother nature. Better yet, take your family down south and enjoy a primitive camping experience in the sun, sand, and wilds of Florida!
Why Choose Florida for Primitive Camping?
Primitive camping is great, but primitive camping in Florida is even better. Nowhere else can you choose between sunsets on the beach, getting lost in a tropical jungle, or immersing yourself in the swampy wetlands of the Everglades. Florida even offers dense forests of pine and cypress trees draped in Spanish moss.
No matter what you’re looking for with your primitive camping experience, Florida has it. Best of all, the climate in Florida is mild enough that you can camp year-round! If you go during the summer months, make sure that you take plenty of water and bug spray because the nights can get toasty and buggy.
Now that we’ve got you hooked and ready to explore all the nature Florida has to offer, let’s look at the best options for primitive camping. We’ll start our journey in the northern Panhandle and make our way south to the Florida Keys. The path from north to south is filled with natural springs, sunny beaches, and National Forests just waiting to be explored.
Primitive Camping in Northern Florida
We’ll start our primitive camping in Florida adventures in the town of Hope Springs about an hour west of Gainesville at Ginnie Springs. Camping at Ginnie Springs is primitive and first come first serve. You can camp here year-round and it’s extremely popular during the summer months when the heat is high. The waters of Ginnie Springs are at a constant temperature of 72 degrees, which is perfect for beating the hot Florida summers.
Osceola National Forest
Next up for primitive camping in northern Florida is the Osceola National Forest. Abutting the Florida-Georgia line, Osceola National Forest is the first of many national forests we’ll look at in Florida. While there are tons of great spots throughout the Forest, one of the best is the Seventeen Mile Hunt Camp. You’ll be able to set up your base camp and take in all the sights that Osceola has to offer, including the Big Gum Swamp Wilderness. Big Gum Swamp is over 13,000 acres of boggy, swampy paradise. Bring your pets and enjoy a weekend of relaxation in Osceola National Forest.
Apalachicola National Forest
Apalachicola National Forest in northern Florida is the largest national forest in the state. You’ll encounter swamps, springs, otherworldly trees, and wildlife like you’ve never seen before. One of the best spots to camp inside Apalachicola National Forest is Mack Landing. It’s a peaceful area along the Ochlockonee River with tons of hiking, biking, and swimming options. It costs $25 to camp in the National Forest, but the park is pet-friendly and positively glorious.
Pine Creek Landing is another great option for primitive camping in Florida within the Panhandle of Apalachicola Forest. The spots at Pine Creek are more primitive and feature no modern commodities and they’re first come first serve.
Murphy Island is a quiet and secluded paradise that’s only accessible by boat. It’s situated near the St. Johns River and Murphy Creek. There are a variety of hiking trails and boating trails to choose from and camping on Murphy Island is as primitive as it gets. Make sure to bring your bug spray and waterproof boots, as the area is extremely boggy and wet during the rainy season, but don’t let that scare you away from this location for primitive camping in northern Florida!
Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park is located on Anastasia Island in northeastern Florida along the Atlantic coast. You’ll be graced with sandy dunes, beaches, mangroves, marshes, and all kinds of wildlife activity. Depending on where you camp in the park, you’ll have access to showers and toilets but no electricity. The charge for camping here is $28 per night, it’s pet friendly, and you’ll have hundreds of spots to choose from around the park.
Suwannee River State Park
Suwannee River State Park is as historic as it is beautiful. The park features a 19th-century steamboat as well as two Civil War-era ghost towns to explore. If you’re not a history buff, there are plenty of hiking trails and canoeing options to take in. Suwannee River Campground is the place to set up your base camp and you can branch out to different parts of the park from there. State park admittance is $22 and the park is pet friendly.
Primitive Camping in Central Florida
Ocala National Forest
First on our list of primitive camping in Central Florida is Ocala National Forest! Located in the heart of Florida, Ocala National Forest is one of the most popular outdoor areas in the southern United States. There are tons of places to camp and things to check out in this tropical paradise. Rather than touch on the dozens of different spots, we’re going to focus on three of the best areas for primitive camping within Ocala National Forest.
Grassy Pond is the first of many great spots for primitive camping in Florida within Ocala National Forest. While the name is Grassy Pond, the campground is nestled along a lake with waters so clear you can see right through them. It’s pet-friendly, primitive, and packed with things to do. Hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and even horseback riding are all options at Grassy Pond and many other areas within Ocala.
Another hotspot within Ocala National Forest for tent campers is Juniper Springs. Juniper Springs is famous for several features including the warm springs for which the area is named. You can also canoe down the seven-mile stretch known as Juniper Run or get lost in the Juniper Prairie Wilderness. There are plenty of hiking trails, swimming holes, and natural springs to choose from, and camping ranges from a few commodities to completely primitive.
Located in the northern part of the Forest, Davenport Landing is situated along the Ocklawaha River. There are three primitive camping areas to choose from, and they’re all located near the Davenport Landing Trailhead. From there, you can explore a world of hiking through flatwoods, pine scrub forests, and ecosystems unlike anything else. Don’t expect any modern amenities when camping at Davenport Landing.
Located on the outskirts of Orlando, Wekiwa Springs is located in Wekiwa Springs State Park and is one of the area’s top attractions. There are miles and miles of hiking and biking trails to explore and the iconic Wekiwa Springs to splash around in. There are both primitive and modern campsites to choose from, and primitive camping only costs $5 per night.
Indian River Lagoon
Indian River Lagoon is one of the dozens of secluded islands off the Atlantic Coast that’s open to primitive campers. The only way to get there is by boat, kayak, or canoe and any one of the dozens of islands is open for business. You don’t need to make a reservation; just take your boat, a life jacket, and your tent, and head for the lagoon!
You won’t find any restrooms, water, or electricity on the island. Just a picnic table, a fire ring, and a whole lot of nature to take in. Feel free to take your pets with as long as you plan to clean up after them, as the area is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Camping is free!
Anclote Key Preserve State Park
Last on our list of locations for primitive camping in Central Florida is Anclote Key Preserve State Park! Located three miles off the coast of Tarpon Springs, Anclote Key Preserve State Park is a remote, beach paradise. If you feel up to it, you can reach the island by kayaking the three and a half miles of open water, but beware of foul weather! You can also catch a ferry to get to the island. No matter how you get there, you’ll be flabbergasted by the view of the stars as you pitch your tent on the sandy beaches of Anclote Key.
Primitive Camping in Southern Florida
Ten Thousand Islands
First up for primitive camping in southern Florida is Ten Thousand Islands! Ten Thousand Islands is a 100-mile Wilderness Waterway that partially runs inside Everglades National Park, but not all of it. Tiger Key and Panther Key are the two best islands to camp on and are on the southwest side. If you’re feeling up to it, you can canoe or kayak your way down the 100-mile Wilderness Waterway and camp on islands and tiki platforms along the way!
Panther Key is located within the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, while Tiger Key is within the Everglades. The latter requires a permit for overnighting but Panther Key is free and doesn’t require a permit.
Biscayne National Park
If you want to feel like Robinson Crusoe/Tom Hanks in Cast Away, you must check out Biscayne National Park. The park consists of a group of islands on the coast of Miami and features two great areas to camp. Elliot Key and Boca Chita Bay are the only two parts of the island above water, as most of the park is underwater.
You can only get to the islands via boat or seaplane, and you’ll feel genuinely isolated when you spend a few nights on the rocky shores of Biscayne. Be advised that this form of primitive camping isn’t for the faint of heart, and only experienced backpackers should attempt it. The cost is $25 per night, and it’s pet-friendly.
Cayo Costa Island State Park
Cayo Costa is one of the toughest to reach areas on this list of places for primitive camping in Florida, but that also makes it one of the best! Part of Cayo Costa Island is a state park, while the other part is partially inhabited with a few brave residents. The only way to reach the island is with a private boat or a passenger ferry service, the latter of which costs $20.
The campsites themselves are primitive and cost $22 per night due to the fact that it’s a state park. You can choose between tent camping or hammock camping when you reach the island. You’d better take everything you need with you, because there’s not much in the way of commodities to be found.
Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve is one of the most unique and beautiful areas in all of Florida. Named for the massive cypress trees that fill the area, Big Cypress truly feels like another world. You’ll have the opportunity to experience true primitive camping without electricity or running water. There’s plenty of hiking, biking, or canoeing to do here, and if you’re lucky, you might even see a rare Florida panther.
Long Pine Key Campground
Next up for primitive camping in southern Florida is Long Pine Key. Long Pine Key Campground is located in the iconic and swampy Everglades National Park. While the Everglades comprise over 1.5 million acres of land, Long Pine is one of only several campgrounds that offer primitive camping. The campground itself features a few commodities mixed with primitive tent camping. You’ll have running water and vault toilets and solar showers depending on the time of year, but that’s about it.
Long Pine Key is a great spot for the whole family due to the large campsites. You can even take your pets along for the ride! Just make sure to keep an eye on them because the Everglades are notorious for gators, snakes, and swamps. The cost of camping in the National Park is $25 per night.
Flamingo Campground is the second of the two camping options within Everglades National Park. You’ll be able to take in all the sights and sounds of the historic park with Flamingo Campground as your base. Although the area is named Flamingo, there are over 300 different bird species to encounter, making Flamingo a favorite for bird-watchers.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Last but certainly not least for primitive camping in Florida, we come to Dry Tortugas National Park. This destination is a personal goal of mine and sounds absolutely amazing. The Tortugas are located 60 miles off of the coast of Key West and the only way to get there is with a private boat or a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride. Despite the hefty cost of $195 round-trip to get there by ferry, the park is one of the most popular amongst campers, adventurers, and fishing enthusiasts.
The designated camping area is on Garden Key and features a Civil War fort where you can wander aimlessly about within the historic walls. You can set up your tent on the beach where you can catch one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see. You can even see the Milky Way Galaxy on clear nights from the shores of the Tortugas.
Make sure that you take everything you need, because there are zero commodities or conveniences on the Tortugas.
Final Thoughts About Primitive Camping in Florida
Excited about primitive camping in Florida yet? With so many beautiful locations to pick from, the hardest part of planning your trip will be choosing a destination! Did we miss any of your favorite places for primitive camping in Florida? Do you have a favorite on this list? Let us know in the comments!
Looking for more Florida camping? Check out our other Florida camping guides below!