The best things in life are free. Why should you pay when you can save your Benjamins? I am talking about camping. You can get a lot of free camping in Florida. The Sunshine State has a lot of good things to offer free of charge to outdoor enthusiasts.
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They say that if something is free, then it is not worth having. But that does not apply to camping in Florida for free. While free camping in other places leaves with you limited choices, Florida is a different kettle of fish altogether.
I mean, there are more than 1 million acres of land under forest cover. Collectively, they attract millions of visitors every year. There is a very good percentage of free camping to enjoy. Just take your tent and be ready for a great time, free of charge.
Prepare Well to Camp for free
Florida is a wonderful place to book your next free camping vacation. If you don’t like crowds, it is best to go to unpopular places. Such will not be crowded and you can enjoy serenity throughout your stay.
The campsites we bring you here are free, meaning they do not have an entry fee. However some services may cost you. These campsites are perfect for a family budget vacation, for hikers, nature lovers and hunters.
Make sure that you prepare well for the wilderness. Take extra synthetic clothes, waterproof shoes or boots, a hat, a bug repellent and enough food and water supplies as these camps don’t have bars and facilities like in other more popular campgrounds.
Some of these campsites are used for hunting and so they might be closed during hunting season. You do not want gunshots when you are asleep in your tent.
Places To Enjoy Free Camping In Florida
Just imagine having an opportunity to save anywhere between $15 and $60 per night of camping. Isn’t that something?
Please note that while there are many free campsites, there are rules. For some, you have to reserve in advance. For some, you cannot do tent camping, only RV camping. Also, some have amenities and some do not.
1. Ashley Campground – Camp For Free
Location: Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve, 13347 Ranch Rd. Dade City, FL
You are required to have a reservation for free camping in the Ashley Campground. This is one of the best places that offer free campsites. You will not pay a dime. Besides, you also get a great dispersed camping experience under the live oak trees. This is a motorhome-friendly campground.
There are good trails for hiking, if such is your desire. There is a gate with a combination lock. Of course, when you make the reservation, you are going to get the combination. Every campsite here has a fire ring and a picnic table. However, bring food, a camping toilet and your own water.
If you like, you can also camp in the well-maintained equestrian area. And you are not required to have horses to camp in this section. Basically, as far as free campsites in Florida go, Ashley is one of the best of them. You can also bring your family tent for camping as tent camping is allowed.
This campground is under the SFWMD – South Florida Water Management District. You have to make the reservation online, a bit of a process there, but you can do it. Phone reception is good but do take a booster with you. Who knows when you might need it?
2. Cypress Creek Preserve – Camping for free
5550 Parkway Blvd.Land O Lakes, FL 34637
This is another of the place where you can camp free of charge in Florida. It is also under the South Florida Water Management District. You are required to make a reservation. However, the available camping spots are not given in the order that the reservations came in. Rather, they are given on a first-come first-serve basis. So, on the actual day of the camping, it would be better to arrive early.
Most of the campsites have a fire ring and a picnic table. However, if you miss those spots, you may camp in the equestrian spots. For primitive camping, you might find the area inaccessible by big motorhomes. However, bring your camping tent or your hammock and enjoy yourself.
There is no trash collection service, so take your trash bags with you. Bag whatever trash you have generated and take it with you. Also, bring your own amenities like a camping toilet or you can use the available ones. Basically, this is considered a great campsite for dry camping or boon-docking.
When you get a free camping permit to camp in the Cypress Creek Preserve, you also get the gate code. There is a lot of dry wood to collect if you would like to make a fire, you will! In addition, there is a roofed grilling area. You can stay here for up to 7 days.
The only complaint from many people is the porta potty. It could be better/cleaner, so watch out for that.
3. Oak Ridge Equestrian Area
15847 Morris Bridge Rd. Thonotosassa, FL 33592
This is another of the great places in the Sunshine State where you can get free camping. If you are looking for a dry camping experience, try this campsite. It offers the best RV as well as tent camping experience. You will also love the hiking trail that leads to the river. You just want to pull on your hiking boots and start walking.
The place is not too far from civilization. You can get all the groceries and everything else that you need from the nearby town center. There are fire rings and picnic tables for every campsite and the sites have these tall pines surrounding and offering cool shade.
When you get the free camping permit, be sure to arrive early on your designated day since the campsites are given out on first come first served basis. During the weekends, there are many hikers taking to the trails so you will not have much solitude.
Cleanliness is OK, although there is a porta potty that seems to be almost full. There is non-potable water on site, but you will have to bring your own drinking water and food. While the road leading to the gate is a bit rough, it is passable. You will get the code to the gate when you get your free permit.
For free camping in Florida, you ought to do it in a serene place like this. You will want to return. This campsite is still in the South Florida Water Management District.
4. Davenport Landing – Ocala National Forest
Right at the edge of the Ocala National Forest, you find the Davenport Landing campground where you can camp free of charge. OK, perhaps we did not mention it, but it is not just the water management districts that offer free camping in Florida. Some national forests do and Ocala is one of them.
There is really not all that much to Davenport Landing which as you might have guessed, is a landing. At least it was a landing for steamboats using the Ocklawaha River. Today, it has three bare bones campsites, which offer you the best dry camping experience.
Davenport Landing only takes 15 campers, so be sure to book your reservation in good time. The maximum number of nights you can camp is four. Please buy your groceries at Salt Springs, a small center south of Davenport Landing.
The good thing is that you not only get to enjoy camping, but there is also a lot of hiking especially in the national forest. In fact, you are going to start your hike at the Davenport Landing trailhead and hike for just a quarter of a mile.
5. Seventeen Mile Hunt Camp In Osceola National Forest
Hugging the Georgia state line, you will find the Osceola National Forest in which is located the Seventeen Mile Hunt Camp. If you are looking for primitive camping, this is the place to be.
The campsites offer a good dry camping experience. You get picnic tables and fire rings. In the day, there are many people from around visiting, mostly hiking, but the nights are quiet and serene.
On some resources, they say that this campsite does not require any reservations. You should contact the Osceola Ranger District on 386-752-2577 for more information.
Of much interest though is not what you can see in the campsite, but what lies beyond it. This is the Big Gum Swamp Wilderness that has fully returned to its original state of ecosystem after being protected by Congress in 1984.
This expansive freshwater swamp that measures 13,600 acres and is home to hundreds of different species of animals, insects and birds.
6. Wood Lake Recreation Area, Free Camping In Florida
When you want to experience the real primitive camping, you know, the bare basics of camping without amenities, this is the place to be. Wood Lake Recreation Area offers free camping in Florida. It is located in the Apalachicola National Forest, on Woodlake Road Sopchoppy, FL 32358.
The maximum stay allowed on this campground is 14 days. Since there are six campsites, you may be lucky enough to find a secluded spot. The good thing is that this place is not too isolated as there are people living nearby.
There are six campsites in this camping area. They all have large picnic tables and fire rings, so you should have an easy time with your tent camping adventure. There are vault toilets here, which are very clean. You will also love that the trees have pins where you can hang some of your things.
Among some of the amenities that you can get here include clean drinking water. So pack something else in the space that you would have used for water, but do bring your camping water filter. You also get a boat ramp and as we mentioned, picnic tables. You may also bring your fishing gear and try for fish in the Ochlockonee River.
Whether you are looking for a one night stay or a few days of camping, the Wood Lake Recreation Area is as good a place as any for free camping.
7. Wym Bayside Campground
Whether you are looking for a place to camp with a tent for free or with an RV, the Wym Bayside Campground that is the right place for you. It is very clean, well organized and is busy almost throughout the year.
In fact, you might even mistake it for a paid campground, but it offers free camping. You should make a reservation online or by calling. When you get your permit, display it on your campsite all the time that you will be there.
It is important to book your campsite for overnight stay. If you get lucky, you might even see a black bear or two. However, the catchy feature is the lake, so you might want to go kayaking. Bring your inflatable kayak for a serious adventure.
There are no bathrooms, but there are porta potties. They are clean, not smelly at all, so you should have no problem using them. There are trails outside the campsites, so you can lace up your hiking boots and hit the wood.
The campsites are big enough to fit even the big motorhomes. There are trash cans all over, so you should find it easy to keep clean all the time. What’s more, the sunsets are quite beautiful, silhouetted beautifully over the lake. You will also see some dolphins. Phone reception is good, so you can keep in touch with folks back home. Imagine you will be getting all those free of charge.
8. Goose Pasture Campground – Florida Free Camping
Goose Pasture Campground is one of the best places for you to camp. It is quiet, serene and very clean. You will have peace of mind. It is under the Suwanee River Water Management District. One of the things that you will love about it is that it has many amenities.
These include things like boat ramp, dump station, water, fire ring, picnic tables and restrooms. In addition, you may engage in water activities if you so wish. You may go for boating or fishing. You can also go for wildlife viewing.
There are six campsites, and all of them are served on a first come basis, so you should reserve yours online. At the same time, you get ten days of stay. You may even reserve campsites so that you can camp in groups of six or more people. To get to the campground, use the Powell Hammock Road from US 98. Drive north for about 4 miles until you get to the Goose Pasture Road, follow it to the campground.
9. Deep Creek Preserve Camping Free Florida
This is another of the free camping grounds for you and your family in Florida. It is quite primitive in amenities, but if you are looking for solitude, you will find it here. Please note that the campground may be closed for a few months each year due to flooding.
The good thing is that this place is not located far from civilization. In fact, it is just one hour or less from beaches lining the stretch of Fort Meyers to Bradenton. Down the road on Peace River, you will find the Nav-A-Gator Grill, a very nice and cozy bar where you can have drinks and food if you like. If not, just enjoy your dry camping adventure at the campsite.
Every campsite has a picnic table and fire ring. You can have a great experience swapping stories and swigging beer around a campfire. You will also get clean portable toilets on site and phone reception is quite good. Campsites have shade and open sunspots.
Once you have ascertained that the campground is open, make a reservation online. It is free camping though, and making the booking online should be a no-brainer. You may catch a few boaters on the Peace River. However, overall, this is a very quiet camping site, both in the day and at night, except during holidays.
10. Hickory Hammock Wildlife Management Area
To close this list of the ten best places for free camping in Florida, we look at the Hickory Hammock Wildlife Management Area. It is located in close proximity to the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park and perhaps that is why there is quite a lot for both you and the children to see. There is plenty of wildlife to see including snakes, white tail deer, wild turkey, wild hogs, armadillos and a lot of birdlife.
There are primitive campsites and drive in campsites. Camping is free of charge but you are supposed to get a free permit from the South Florida Water Management District. Horse riding is allowed, and there is a nature trail for hiking that is quite enthralling.
The only amenities that you will get at the primitive campsite include picnic tables, benches and a grill. There is no potable water, so you should bring yours and there are no restrooms. Only 15 people are allowed to camp here.
People from all over the world are coming to Florida due to different reasons. Florida has the most popular bitches which offer enjoyment and tranquility over the beautiful sunsets. However this southeastern country has outstanding opportunities for those who want to spend a quiet time in wilderness, also campers.
This article is for those who want to save some money considering budget-friendly vacation and those who love the wilderness and quietness, far away from the crowded campgrounds. See which campsites offer free camping in Florida.
11. Bulow Creek State Park
No entrance fee is required for the Bulow Creek State Park. If you like the forest, you will love it here as the campground has one of the largest live oak forests along Florida’s east coast. The Park has a lot of trails for hikers to explore and to see the deer, raccoons and barred owls. The place is also perfect for bicycling, picnicking, paddling, wildlife viewing, geo-seeking, and weddings.
12. Anclote Key Preserve State Park
Anclote Key is a park where you will enjoy in blue-green Gulf waters. It is another free campground in Florida however it is only accessible by boat or ferry. The park has 11,773-acres of land with 43 species of birds. You can swim, sunbathe, have a grill picnic, and enjoy adventure in a primitive camping with a tent. Make sure you bring food and water with you.
13. Alafia River Corridor
This campground has 2963 acres of land that is under conservation. The Park has swamps and upland hammocks (broad-leafed trees). The place is wonderful for primitive camping, having picnics, hiking, fishing and equestrian. They have a restroom and ADA-accessible toilet. If you love to hike, this campground should fit you as you will be able to hike through natural areas and areas of former phosphate mine pits.
14. Lake Marion Creek WMA
This campground offers 8 days of free camping in Florida. It covers more than 8,000 acres of land. Most of the area is hardwood swamp with different types of wildlife. It is a perfect place for watching the animals, especially for bird observations. Lake Marion Creek has trails for hiking which you can enter through Snell Creek, Huckleberry Island, Horse Creek and Baltic Road. Horseback riding is prohibited and camping in the hunting season. Free camping in Florida does not come any better than this.
15. DuPuis WMA
DuPuis Equestrian campground has two sites – equestrian and non-equestrian. You will have to have a minimum of one horse per Special Use License if you want to camp in equestrian part of the camp. You will need to have a Special Use License for camping in any of these two options.
Two pets are allowed within the license. The campground has 21,875-acre of land where you can find ponds, wet prairies, cypress domes, and pine. There are roads to hike, horseback ride, backpack and hunt.
16. Allapattah Flats WMA
Allapattah campground has 20,945 acres of marshes and slash pine flatwoods land. You will find public recreational opportunities here and a chance for watching the birds, deer, wood storks, sandhill cranes and other. The place is good for hiking, hunting, horseback riding, bicycling, primitive camping and wildlife viewing.
17. St. Marks River Preserve State Park
The camp is open through all year and can be found along the banks of St. Marks River headwaters. You will enjoy here as they have pine forests, hardwood thickets, and natural plant communities.
Enjoy yourself by observing deer, foxes, raccoons and other wild animals. There are plenty of activities to do such as hiking, horseback riding, off-road bicycling and playing sports at their recreational area.If you will visit this place, bring water with you.
18. Catfish Creek Preserve State Park
If you like being close to the water, you will love this campground. Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park is located along the Lake Wales Ridge. You will enjoy yourself with 8,000 acres of sandhill, scrub and flatwoods. If you have kids, you can observe wild animals at the park and also hike on the six miles of hiking trails.
The place is special with rare plants for you to see. Take time and see scrub plum, scrub morning glory, pygmy fringe tree, and cutthroat grass. Fishing is allowed. They also have covered pavilions to relax and eat. This campground is appropriate for those who want more challenging outdoor vacations so make sure you are prepared for the scrubland.
As you have seen in this article, the best places to look for free camping in Florida include the national forests and lands, and the water management districts. By free, we mean no entrance fee. Even where permits are required, they are free of charge. Always make a reservation so that a smart guy with paperwork does not beat you to your spot.