If there is one thing that living on the road has taught me, it’s to take the road less traveled. And oh my, how this really rings true when it comes to finding fabulous, free camping in Florida.
Robert Frost said it best, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”.
I have found that most adventures worth doing, seeing or experiencing usually require determination, a little chance and in the case of fabulous camping, a lot of research. Because if it was easy, everyone would do it.
So, naturally when people tell me ‘there’s no Wild Camping’ (like they did before we pointed our RV towards Florida) I read between the lines and found ‘they’ just didn’t look hard enough.
Luckily, it didn’t take too much digging to come across a state wide program with incredibly fabulous free wild camping. Check it out:
Pretty fantastic right!?! Ok, now to the information you need to get yourself to these spectacular boondocking sites.
I can’t guarantee that every region of Florida has RV camping, or free camping, but I can give you the resources to check into the region you’d like to visit. As mentioned in the video, some require a free reservation, some are on a fist come basis, some have amenities and others don’t. Most offered a lot of equestrian opportunities if you travel with horses, and all seemed to have some sort of trail system for hiking, biking or riding. Some accepted donations so if you enjoy your stay make sure you drop a few bucks into their fund to keep up the campground maintenance.
The Florida Water Management is broken up into five different zones:
- Northwest Florida WMD
- Suwannee River WMD
- St. Johns River WMD
- Southwest Florida WMD
- South Florida WMD
You will notice they use the language: equestrian, group and primitive camping. The camping that can accommodate RV’s is the equestrian areas. But the best way to make sure is to call. There is a phone number for each of the regions and I was always able to get someone on the phone. They were extremely nice and helpful so don’t hesitate to call and ask questions and verify you can camp there in an RV.
Here’s a look at the fabulous free camping we experienced this winter:
This preserve is located in the Southwest Florida Management area and just a short drive to Punta Gorta and the incredible mangrove paddling trails out of Placidia. We didn’t even know paddling trails existed until this experience, and it was soooo cool. Here’s an insider tip: make sure you go at high tide otherwise there won’t be enough water to navigate!
This wildlife management area is near Lake Okeechobee and a short drive from the Jupiter / West Palm Beach area. We loved meeting up with fellow RVers for a paddle around Johnathan Dickinson State Park, hiking the trails at the campground and getting up close and personal with the Florida wildlife. Singa and Cleo enjoyed sitting around camp and getting high on catnip! Tip: It got so hot here we broke down and had to run the generator and A/C for an hour one afternoon…we felt so guilty (and like wimps!).
Close to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, this remote campground was teeming with armadillos, birds, cows, snakes, wild hogs and the fuzziest baby barn owls! Even though we were inland, that didn’t hold us back from hitting the water. We met fellow RV friends at one of the nearby lakes where we got to test out our wake surfing skills; we also explored Vero Beach, Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie which are all worth a visit.
We were blown away by all the recreational opportunities that these water management areas provide, and each of the three we camped at didn’t charge any fees. Overall, each location was beautiful in its own way, we had great fellow campers (some in RVs and others in tents) and were always sad to leave.
As we mentioned in the video this type of FL camping is NOT for everyone! It can be unbearably hot and humid one day followed by nearly freezing temps and rain the next. These locations are often down long dirt roads, and when it rains your coach gets very dirty (check out our RV in the Hickory Hammock photos). There’s bugs, spiders, mice, venomous snakes and a host of other things lurking out your door (which we love finding) that can creep some people out and can harm you and your pets if you don’t keep your eye out for them. So if you’re not into glorified tent camping with your RV we wouldn’t suggest wild camping in FL (or most wild camping). But that’s why we love it…it’s not for everyone so its a little more peaceful 🙂
Have you been wild camping in Florida or found a similar program in another state? Tell us about it so we can all enjoy!
Disclaimer – Shhhhhhhh! You didn’t hear this from us! We had at least a half dozen people stop by our motorhome and say “you’re not going to tell everyone about this are you?” We didn’t say “no” or “yes” but it’s better we keep this on the DL 🙂