Depending on where you’ve tried RV camping in Florida, you may have found success or crushing disappointment. Most RVers are on a quest to camp as close to the Florida Keys as possible, but when they get there, they are greeted with endless “No Overnight Parking” signs.
But what if we told you that Florida has more to offer - and it won’t break the bank? It is a beautiful state for camping, especially in the fall and winter months when temperatures are much more mild. And yes, it is possible to get close to the Florida Keys if you are determined to get there. Just remember: the closer you get to the Keys, the more expensive RV camping becomes.
We’ve compiled this list of cheap and free RV campgrounds in Florida to help you plan your travels. Find what works for you and add it to your RV camping bucket list.
Curry Hammock State Park is the largest, undeveloped stretch of land between Key Largo and Big Pine Key. It has spacious campsites, access to the beach, and many opportunities to recreate. On calm days, you can entertain yourself with a little bit of paddling, and when it’s windy, you can always try kiteboarding. If you just want to relax, you can watch the campground’s stunning sunrises while you sip your morning coffee. There is an admission fee that ranges from $4.50 to $8.00 as well as a nightly camping fee of $36.00. This may seem far from cheap, but relative to the area and its proximity to the Florida Keys, you won’t find much better.
Dinner Island Ranch Wildlife Management Area
This campsite boasts excellent hunting, ranging from migratory to small game sporadically throughout the year; so if you have been itching to dust off those guns, this is a great place to get back in touch with your primal side. Temperatures are most pleasant during late fall, winter, and spring, which is important to consider if you plan on hiking, biking, or horseback riding. No daily-use permit is currently required to enter this area. To hunt or fish, you must possess the appropriate license and permit.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
RV camping and coral reefs? You can enjoy both at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, known for its abundance of coral formations and associated marine life. The park extends 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, though in totality the park is approximately 25 miles in length along the coast (?). This destination features 47, full-facility sites (for both tent and RV campers), restrooms, and hot showers. You have to call to find out the cost of RV camping per night at this campground as it varies, but we thought it was worth featuring in this list simply because it is so alluring for travelers that want to be in the Florida Keys. It has three areas designated for swimming, one of which includes remnants of an early Spanish shipwreck 100 feet offshore.
Picayune Strand Horseshoe Primitive Campground
Eight miles east of Naples, Florida, within the Picayune Strand State Forest, you can find this delightful primitive campground. While it does not have potable water or electricity, there is non-potable water available on site as well as fire rings, picnic tables, and restrooms. There is a lot to do here, including horseback riding, bike riding, picnicking, bird watching, wildlife viewing and hiking. It’s also just a short drive away from some stellar coastal kayaking. Fees vary depending on your arrival date, but are typically less than $10.00 per night.
This destination less than an hour from Tallahassee is the perfect getaway for hunters. There was a time that it was also used for boating on the Ochlockonee River, but until further notice, the Pine Creek boat ramp is closed for public health and safety reasons. Now it is primarily a hunt camp during general gun season. Pine Creek Landing is a primitive camping area, so you should come prepared for boondocking (no hookups). Best of all, camping here is free!
Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area
If you want to be relatively close to Miami or the Florida Keys, consider visiting the Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area. While it is 1.5 - 2 hours away from both of these locations, it is actually one of the closest boondocking sites. While most of the area is made up of swamps and wetlands, there are some solid areas large enough for smaller RVs. Fall and winter are the best seasons to hunt waterfowl and white-tailed deer. Winter is also a good time to observe migratory birds. These seasons are also ideal because the number of bugs is at a minimum. No daily-use permit is required, however, to hunt or fish you must possess the appropriate licenses and permits.
Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area
For outdoor enthusiasts, you can’t beat Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, which is about 25 miles southeast of St. Cloud. This camping site has plenty of opportunities for hunting, fishing, birding, nature study, hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling. A daily-use permit is required to enter this area ($3.00 per person, $6.00 per vehicle), unless you have purchased a Wildlife Management Area Permit. To hunt or fish you must also possess the appropriate licenses and permits. The good news: restrooms are available at this location, though you should already be set if you’re sporting a Grand Design RV.
The main takeaway from this list is that there are a lot of cheap and free campsites in Florida, but the closer you get to the Keys, the more expensive overnight stays become. We hope there is something here that piques your interest and fits your budget.
What cheap or free RV campgrounds have you enjoyed in Florida? We would love to hear from you! Share your ideas and pictures in the comments.