Despite being one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, Florida doesn’t appear on many boondocking lists. Perhaps it's because so many travelers associate Florida with big cities like Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa. However, all of those urban areas are on the coast, leaving Florida’s interior mostly untouched and available for camping.
The Sunshine State is also home to the third-largest national park in Lower 48, Everglades National Park
. Much of the park is only accessible by boat—perfect for adventurous boondockers like yourself that want to go exploring off the beaten path.
Can I Go Boondocking in Florida?
Boondocking in Florida is somewhat more difficult than camping in the western states, where BLM and National Forest land are plentiful. A full 29% of the state is wetlands
, which isn’t necessarily the best place for parking your RV. However, many of the best spots for boondocking Florida are in areas called Water District Management Areas, where you can camp for up to six nights.
So don’t be discouraged, there are still quite a few places to set up camp and many of them are close to the Sunshine State’s best attractions.
Top Locations For Boondocking in Florida
Most people think of Florida as a beachy paradise, but your best dry camping options are found further inland, where lush forests and glistening lakes dominate. Explore awesome locations for boondocking in Florida below!
Pine Creek Landing
This campground is less than an hour from Tallahassee, in the Florida Panhandle. Both developed and dispersed campsites are available and neither provide hookups.
Paddle the Ochlockonee River. A boat ramp is available at the campsite.
More information: Pine Creek Landing
Also near the Ochlockonee River, sites have no hookups but there is a vault toilet and the campground doesn’t get as many visitors as some of the other boondocking locations in the area. It’s very quiet and has excellent river access.
This is a popular place to camp during the hunting season and for those wanting to kayak on the Ochlockonee River.
More Information: Mack Landing
Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area
Less than an hour south of Orlando, Three Lakes WMA is a small, rustic campground with just a few sites for hunters and birdwatchers. There are several lakes close by, including Lake Kissimmee, Jackson, and Marian that are great for fishing.
The WMA is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail
, and is considered one of the best places for birdwatching in the state.
More Information: Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area
Picayune Strand State Forest
This state forest is just minutes from the city of Naples and Big Cypress National Preserve. During the wet season, much of it can be underwater. Campsites have no hookups and no drinking water is available, so you’ll need to come prepared. There are picnic tables and fire rings though.
Pack your hiking boots! There’s a 22-mile-long hike within the forest. After that, you’re just a short drive from some great coastal kayaking.
More Information: Picayune Strand State Forest
Dinner Island Wildlife Management Area
A little over an hour from Fort Myers between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, this campground is a great place to stay from November to April. During the wet season, the area can flood and become inaccessible.
Popular for deer, turkey, hog, and bird hunting. You can also hike along the unimproved roads that crisscross the region.
More Information: Dinner Island Wildlife Management Area
Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area
An hour and a half west of Miami, this beautiful wetlands habitat has room for a few intrepid campers. Most of the WMA is covered in swamp and is best traversed in a kayak, but a few levees of areas large enough to accommodate a smaller RV. While they are still two hours away, this is also one of the closest boondocking sites to the Florida Keys.
Big Cypress National Preserve is just south of the WMA and has more accessible hiking than the Everglades. Also, the clubs, beaches and restaurants of Miami are a short drive away.
More Information: Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area
Boondocking Locations in the Florida Keys
Camping in the Keys isn’t as easy as it is up north. There’s no public land to speak of, and “No Overnight Parking” signs are ubiquitous. The urban sprawl of Miami on Florida’s southern tip also prevents you from boondocking anywhere close to the Keys. Your best bet for boondocking in the Florida Keys is to reserve a site with no hookups at a developed RV park.
Curry Hammock State Park
Located near Marathon, about halfway down the Overseas Highway between Key Largo and Key West, Curry Hammock State Park is one of your best options for boondocking on the islands. Sites have electrical hookups, but no water or sewer, which helps to keep its fee lower than most of the campgrounds on the Keys.
There’s a sandy beach inside the park that’s popular with kitesurfers, along with a nature trail and a boat launch where you can start your exploration of the mangrove forests.
More Information: Curry Hammock State Park
Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge
Big Pine is one of the Key’s nicer RV parks and it’s only thirty miles from Key West. However, those looking to boondock the Florida Keys can stay in the rustic camping area, which has no hookups, a picnic table and drinking water. Being such a developed RV park, it’s not the typical boondocking experience, but you can’t beat the price compared to some of the other island RV parks.
Key West is only a little over half an hour away and is a snorkeler’s and diver’s paradise, with spectacular reefs and wildlife just steps from the beach. From Key West, you can also catch a ferry out to Dry Tortugas National Park.
More Information: Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge
Situated near the beginning of the Overseas Highway in Key Largo, this campground is perfect for RV travelers wanting to stick close to Miami. Sites have electrical hookups, but no water and sewer and are priced far lower than most of the campgrounds on the Keys.
Blackwater Sound has powerboat, jet skis and kayak rentals available.
More Information: Kings Kamp
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Also in Key Largo, the state park covers almost twenty-five miles of coral reef and its visitors center features a massive aquarium filled with native aquatic life. Campsites have electrical, water and sewer hookups, but the rustic setting is still appealing for boondockers.
Snorkeling and scuba diving the nearby reef are the most popular activities, but you can also take a glass-bottom boat tour if you’d like to stay dry while exploring them.
More Information: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
5 Tips RV Boondocking in Florida
Warm weather, sunshine, and a tourist-friendly culture make Florida an excellent stop for RV boondockers like yourself. However, there are a few things to think about when camping in the Sunshine State.
- Check Your Park’s Age Restrictions. Florida has a large retired population and many of the parks require at least one camper in the group be over the age of 55.
- Reduce Waste. Florida gets more tourists than just about any other state. Don’t just pack out your trash, make less of it while boondocking in Florida.
- Prepare for Insects. Florida’s wetlands are the ideal habitat for all sorts of biting and stinging insects. Bring your repellant of choice and use it liberally.
- Explore the Outdoors. The state has some of the most unique outdoor spaces in the Lower 48 like the Everglades swamps, the thousand miles long Florida Trail or kayaking along the beaches of St. Petersburg. Florida is for adventure lovers.
- Carry a Detailed Map. Not all of the sites available for boondocking in Florida are well-marked. An accurate map is essential for keeping you within the boundaries of the Forest Service area or Water Management District.
Drink in the Sunshine State with a Cruise America RV Rental!
Whether you lounge on the beach or serenely paddle through the Everglades, Florida is an amazing place to unwind and disconnect from the world. Florida offers something for everyone.
Getting away from the office and off the grid doesn’t mean you have to go without though. Cruise America
has some of the most modern RVs with the best amenities available at a number of locations throughout the state.
Contact your nearest Cruise America to find the perfect Florida RV rental