OCALA NATIONAL FOREST
The Ocala National Forest is the second largest national forest in Florida and houses 14 full facility campgrounds (four of which are open to RVs), two cabins for rent and four “dispersed” – or primitive – campgrounds.
Activities available inside the forest include:
- bicycling. There is a mountain bicycling trail that connects Clearwater Lake Recreation Area and Alexander Springs Recretaion Area.
- fishing. Aside from the two larger lakes, Lake George and Lake Kerr, there are many smaller lakes, rivers and streams for fishing.
- hiking. Choose from a variety of day hiking trails to backpacking trails.
- horse riding & horse camping. Visitors have the opportunity to ride horses to remote spots in the forest for camping.
- hunting. Small game hunting is available, but a Florida hunting license is required.
- water activities, including boating, scuba diving, swimming and water skiing.
For more information, visit the Ocala National Forest website.
PAYNES PRAIRIE PRESERVE STATE PARK
The Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park includes full facility, equestrian and primitive camping. This includes ranger-led campfire programs, which discuss varied wildlife and history topics, every Saturday evening from November to February. Paynes Prairie, which includes nine nature trails, is located in Micanopy, Fla., 10 miles south of Gainesville.
Activities available at Paynes Prairie include:
- bicycling. Bicycling is allowed on the Chacala, Bolen Bluff, Jackson’s Gap, Cone’s Dike and Gainesville-Hawthorne trails.
- canoeing and kayaking on Lake Wauburg. However, there are no canoes for rent.
- fishing on Lake Wauburg.
- hiking. There are nine nature trails at Paynes Prairie. Pick the one that’s right for you.
- horseback riding.
- wildlife viewing. Some of the animals commonly seen include sandhill cranes, bald eagles, alligators, otters, deer, bobcats and snakes.
For more information, visit the Paynes Prairie website.
ANASTASIA STATE PARK
Anastasia State Park is the closest you can get to camping near the ocean in Florida. Located in St. Augustine, Anastasia offers full facility campsites (RV accessible) that are within walking/bicycling distance from the beach. With its numerous water activities (lessons available for various water sports), Anastasia is a perfect camping location for the warmer months.
Activities available at Anastasia State Park include:
- the beach.
- bicycling. Visitors can rent bicycles to ride around the beach and park roads.
- boating, canoeing and kayaking. Visitors can rent canoes and kayaks to take to Salt Run, a tidal salt marsh. A mix of motorized and non-motorized boats are allowed in the area, but drivers are asked to keep their speeds very, very low.
- hiking/nature trails.
- wildlife viewing.
For more information, visit the Anastasia State Park website.
TORREYA STATE PARK
Located in Florida’s panhandle, Torreya State Park offers about 30 full facility and three primitive campsites. According to the Florida State Parks website, the park is named for an extremely rare species of Torreya tree that only grows on the bluffs along the Apalachicola River.
Torreya State Park also has a YURT (Year-round Universal Recreational Tent) available for rent that houses five people. It is a 20-foot round tent with a lockable wooden door, windows and electricity.
There are also two youth group camping areas, one houses 20 people and the other 40.
The Apalachicola River Bluffs Trail and the Weeping Ridge Trail provide plenty of miles of hiking for visitors.
For more information, visit the Torreya State Park website.
Ginnie Springs is one of many North Florida spring locations that offers camping. There are campsites throughout the 200 wooded acres, including spots along the Sante Fe river and spring. There are 90 campsites with electricity and water hookups.
Ginnie Springs also has a three bedroom, two bathroom cottage for rent.
Known for its water activities, Ginnie Springs offers:
- scuba diving.
For the more experienced diver, Ginnie offers cave and cavern diving. Most equipment – tubes, snorkels, canoes, etc. – can be rented at the springs.
For more information, visit the Ginnie Springs website.