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Free Tent Camping In Florida

Snowbird Guide To Free Camping In Florida

Free RV and Tent Camping in Florida

Floridas snowbird season starts in October and ends in April finding free camping during these busy 6-7 months can be maddening!

In this guide, I summarize the options for free camping in Florida during snowbird season which unfortunately coincide with the main hunting season! It is therefore extremely important for snowbirds to be aware of Floridas hunting seasons and their impact on free camping choices. Camp safe!

Everglades National Park Free Campsites 41 Miles: Bass Pro Miami

Address GPS: 25.789478, -80.383701 Elevation: 7

While our focus is boondocking and free camping, we also list and utilize overnight RV parking locations. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it might seem strange to run across rest areas, truck stops, and Walmart parking lots in a camping directory. However, for some RVers, it is how they get from one location to the another.

Most parking lots are completely empty at night and many travelers do not need the amenities of an RV park. They just want a couple hours of shut eye before hitting the road again. A place to park is all they need.

Its a symbiotic relationship everyone benefits. Truck stops regularly provide space for truckers and often extend the service to RVers. Just like truckers, RVers use and pay for the facilities inside. Retail stores like Walmart, Cabelas, and Bass Pro enjoy the sales that come from overnighters who come in and browse the store the next day. Restaurants like Cracker Barrel and the Apple Peddler hope that their overnight guests have dinner or breakfast there.

In order for this practice to continue, we must respect our hosts and their property. That is why we strongly believe in and endorse the RVers Good Neighbor Policy. Please read and follow its guidelines. We must be gracious and humble guests. If we are not, there will be more pressure to institute state, county, and local ordinances that prohibit parking on private property.

Management Private Retail Store

Amenities:

RV Parking

The Best Free Camping In North Florida

What northern Florida lacks in the glitz and glamour of the south, it more than makes up for in natural, rugged beauty. 17 Mile Hunt Camp, located just outside of the Big Gum Swamp Wilderness, is set in a secluded and peaceful forest. Its a great spot to meet up with friends and family for a weekend of fun.

Explore Floridas Gulf of Mexico with a stay at the well-loved Bayside Campground near Pensacola. This is boondocking in Florida at its finest, with waterfront spots and plenty of trees for cooling off in the shade. Other Gulf of Mexico spots includes Pope Still Hunt Camp and Dead River Landing Recreation Area.

Whether youre spending a month in the state or simply taking a getaway weekend close to home, theres a free camping spot waiting for you in Florida.

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Everglades National Park Free Camping 25 Miles: Cracker Barrel Homestead

Address Get Directions

Management Private Retail Store

While our focus is boondocking and free camping, we also list and utilize overnight RV parking locations. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it might seem strange to run across rest areas, truck stops, and Walmart parking lots in a camping directory. However, for some RVers, it is how they get from one location to the another.

Most parking lots are completely empty at night and many travelers do not need the amenities of an RV park. They just want a couple hours of shut eye before hitting the road again. A place to park is all they need.

Its a symbiotic relationship everyone benefits. Truck stops regularly provide space for truckers and often extend the service to RVers. Just like truckers, RVers use and pay for the facilities inside. Retail stores like Walmart, Cabelas, and Bass Pro enjoy the sales that come from overnighters who come in and browse the store the next day. Restaurants like Cracker Barrel and the Apple Peddler hope that their overnight guests have dinner or breakfast there.

In order for this practice to continue, we must respect our hosts and their property. That is why we strongly believe in and endorse the RVers Good Neighbor Policy. Please read and follow its guidelines. We must be gracious and humble guests. If we are not, there will be more pressure to institute state, county, and local ordinances that prohibit parking on private property.

Public Lands In Florida

5 Free Camping Sites in Florida

There are both federal and state managed public lands in Florida that offer camping. Examples of federally run dry camping are the National Forests such as Apalachicola National Forest where you can camp at the Wood Lake Campground. In Osceola National Forest, you can camp at the Ocean Pond campground for only $8 per night with access to the two-mile wide lake with a sandy beach, restrooms, fire rings and picnic tables.

One Florida state agency that manages free campgrounds is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Camping at any of their locations is free, but does require a permit which can be obtained online.

Many of these campgrounds are based on local hunting seasons, but there are a few that offer year round camping. In the southern part of the state, Dinner Island Ranch Wildlife Management Areas Hammock Camp is named for the areas oak hammock that provides plenty of shade for its 10 RV and 7 tent camping sites. Up in the panhandle, the Escribano Point Wildlife Management Area hosts the Bayside Campground . It has 12 sites, all free with no hook-ups.

Just down the road from Tampa, in Thonotosassa, Florida is the Washburn Equestrian Areain the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve managed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Primitive camping sites with Sites picnic tables, fire rings and/or grills set among 16 miles of multiuse trails.

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Florida Caverns State Park

This parks limestone caves offer something a bit different when camping in Florida. It is the only park in Florida with dry caves that offer tours to the public. RV campsites have access to water and electrical hook-ups. Campers can also participate in one of the parks daily guided tours through the caves, spend the day swimming in the Blue Hole swimming area, paddle on the Chipola River, or hike the parks scenic trails.

Free Camping Sites In Florida

The state of Florida has ample campgrounds for people, but a few come without any charge levied. Regardless of the nature of the landscape, all sites are beautiful and have a raw flavor of nature. But, since they are free, you might find some of the places crowded at times. Both primitive and RV camping are allowed and it is always better to be careful as you might spot alligators and bears occasionally. Also, carry a mosquito repellent with you.

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State Rv Camping Information

CLEWISTONUSACE/COE manages Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway. RV camping is permitted at several campgrounds. Developed campgrounds overview in the area.

  • Franklin North Electric available RV campsites. RV dump as well as pull through campsites, fishing facilities and more await your RV camping trip.
  • St Lucie South Electric and non electric campsites, RV dump station, boat ramp, and even a playground are available at this USACE campground.
  • Two campgrounds suitable for RV camping are located in the park. The park features endangered species, the nations largest subtropical wilderness, and offers numerous outdoor recreation opportunities.

  • Long Pine Key Campground offers 108 campsites with water and RV dump station.
  • Flamingo Campground has 234 RV camping sites, many with a view of the water.
  • Free Camping In Florida

    Free Camping in Florida!

    In our opinion, theres nothing better than free camping. Its your chance to get back to basics, enjoy nature, and separate yourself from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life. It also allows you to experience some of natures best views for free.

    The fantastic thing about Florida is that free camping here is legal, as long as you are camping on state ground and adhere to a few simple guidelines.

    Land looked after by the Bureau for Land Management, National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service, will be state owned. Typically any areas that are green on Google Maps are also publicly owned. A great map, such as this one, could help in finding free camping spots too.

    However camping on the beach is not tolerated in Florida. If you still want to camp on a beach, then make sure you choose a beach that is far from buildings and towns. Pitch your tent at dusk and take it down at dawn, and hopefully you will avoid a fine.

    Yet with 37 state forests covering 1.1 million acres, you should be spoiled for choice in Florida when it comes to camping in woodland. Furthermore, theres over 90 camping areas that have been set up within these forests in order to try and minimize wild camping and its impact on the environment.

    You can see these camping areas by following this link, many of which have corresponding maps.

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    Bahia Honda State Park

    Located at mile marker 37, Bahia Honda is one of the most scenic parks in Florida. Lush coconut palms against a backdrop of white sand and clear tropical waters make this Park’s campground one of the most popular in the state. And its beaches are widely considered the best in the Florida Keys. Three campgrounds with a total of 80 campsites cater to both tents and RVs.Three duplex cabins are also available if you don’t want to rough-it.

    Great Everglades National Park Free Campsites

    We have chosen 15 Everglades National Park Free Campsites for you, boondocking and free camping is difficult in the sunshine state but not impossible.

    Everglades National Park is found in the southern part of Florida. It serves as a home of various prevalent species such as the American crocodile, Florida panther, and, not to forget, the manatee. This park offers a good mixture of luxury and wilderness.

    The prime reason why you should visit Everglades National Park is due to the exceptional encounter you will get, as well as unparalleled comfort. So if you are preparing to go for a Boondocking trip, Everglades is the place to be.

    Slogging and hiking are the most predominant activities that take place in Everglades National Park. However, the real fun begins after you hit the water. Fascinating right? Considering that most of the park is only reachable through a boat fishing, canoeing, boating, and kayaking are the common recreations in this park. And this makes it ideal for boondocks like yourself.

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    What Id Do Differently

    For south Florida, I dont suggest that approach, or the spots I found. I guess this is part of getting older, but I definitely wouldnt do it the same way today, as I did back then.

    So, what was my mistake? Well, there were lots of them.

    But, mostly, I was penny wise and pound foolish. I was determined to always find the lowest-cost option. I did, but it took away from the enjoyment. If I could go back in time, I wouldnt obsess so much over the cost of every little thing.

    If I could travel back in time, Id definitely still go to the Keys. Its one of the best spots to hide out from the winter.

    Id do some things the same way. Id still try to do it in a responsible, affordable way. Id still control my expenses.

    But, Id use other low-cost, budget travel methods that are better suited for Florida, especially south Florida and the Florida Keys.

    Most importantly, Id go in with the mindset that, at the end of the day, this is just an expensive place. I look at it as a vacation from my usual low-cost lifestyle.

    Id accept the fact that Id spend more than I usually do. Mentally, Id try to remind myself that, when averaged out over a year, everything is still fine in the big picture.

    And, most importantly, Id remember that the memories and experiences are worth it. You can always find more nickels and dimes, but you cant get more time.

    Check These Websites For More Free Camping Options

    Sleep Near The Shore On Your Next Myrtle Beach Camping Trip

    There are a host of links below that you can check to know the camping rules and find general news on how to get free RV camping sites across the federal public lands in Florida:

    • US Forest Service You will find information on RV camping rules and further information about dispersed camping and tips on finding free RV camping sites.
    • National Park Service Here you will find general information on RV camping in various US National Parks, including those in and around Florida. The National Parks provide some of the best places for RV camping with a scenic backdrop.
    • US Army Corp of Engineers The USACE is better known as COE, and it manages the water recreation areas throughout the USA. You can find current information on the COE home page about RV camping and any associated rules around these water-based recreation areas.
    • US Fish and Wildlife Service You will find information on this page about the specific places in the National Wildlife Refuges in Florida where free camping is allowed. But, note that not all refugees will allow camping. So, visit the page to check out the current list of refuges where camping is allowed.

    For even more free camping options, you can key in the area you are traveling to in the Campendium website and check out your options.

    Closing thoughts

    It is always good to have a backup plan for such unforeseen scenarios. Many websites, such as Freecampsites.net, prove to be useful resources in finding a free campsite.

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    Cheap Camping Florida Keys

    TLRD Paid 24-hour parking lots!

    The best cheap camping we found was in parking lots. We found one 24-hour lot on Simonton St & Green / Dey St in Key West that let us stay for $15/day for 3 nights. I cant guarantee that they will always allow this, since the owner said hed be fined $250 if the city caught us, but we were able to make it work for a few days, and even pop the camper as we slept in it. We spent the days swimming and working at Fort Zachary Taylor , and used their beach showers / restrooms.

    If you ask around, you can find some businesses and individuals who allow people to stay in their parking lots or properties cheaply, but this is very case-by-case, so you need to be in the Keys and making friends to find the opportunities.

    Free Camping In Campgrounds Of The Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission

    Floridas Wildlife Management Areas and Wildlife and Environmental Areas are part of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission .

    With some exceptions, camping is generally very primitive and seasonal. Camping seasons, rules, permits, and fees vary from site to site. Safety regulations during hunting season are of specific importance to campers.

    That said, the 36 free campsites in these wildlife areas are popular and in high demand every winter. They are shown in green on the camping map below.

    I published a separate article to cover camping in the Florida Wildlife Management Areas. Read here: Florida WMA and WEA Camping for Snowbirds

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    Davenport Landing In Ocala National Forest Central Florida

    In the heart of Central Florida, the Ocala Wildlife Management Area spans 385,349 acres across the Lake, Marion, and Putnam counties. Davenport Landing is situated at the north edge of the Ocala National Forest, near the banks of the Ocklawaha River. While the area used to be a landing for steamboats, today the three primitive campsites remain fairly secluded and quiet.

    The Davenport Landing Trailhead is near the sites and takes hikers on a moderate stroll through forest ecosystems, pine flatwoods, and sand pine scrub. The trail is only a quarter of a mile one-way and is not looped.

    Davenport Landing limits groups to a maximum of 15 people and the maximum stay is four nights. While the campsites are truly primitive with no amenities, there is a community south of the campsite called Salt Springs, where campers can pick up groceries and supplies.

    Grayton Beach State Park

    Free Camping at Wilderness Landing Park in FL

    Located roughly halfway between Panama City Beach and Destin, south of U.S. Highway 98, this park is a quiet respite that encompasses an award-winning beach. Its campground scores high marks for privacy between campsites and most are easy on the eyes: some campsites even overlook a lake.Cabins are available as well.

    Campers who plan ahead are happy campers.

    – Lauren Tjaden for VISIT FLORIDA

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    Escribano Point Wma Bayside Campground Santa Rosa County

    The picturesque location near Pensacola offers you a view of the Blackwater Bay as the campsites are nestled beautifully along the shoreline. There are two camping sites, namely, BaysideCampground, and Bayou Campground . A permit for using the site as your campground is mandatory. Bear-resistance trash cans and portable toilets are there but you wont find electricity or drinking water.

    Free Camping In Florida The Ultimate Guide To Public Campgrounds And Dispersed Sites Part 1

    YES, FREE camping is possible in Florida!

    At first glance, finding free camping in Florida is an easy process. Simply go to one of several websites or camping phone apps and browse an area of interest. But thats when things get interesting because the State of Florida is host to a variety of free camping possibilities and many ways to book a site!

    In this article, I discuss the overall management or organization of public camping in Florida. It is important to understand this Organization Chart because ultimately you are required to have a solid understanding of the rules and regulations of each wildlife/outdoor department or branch of the State of Florida.

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