Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014
Out and about

Register now for fall camping at state parks


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Autumn might seem a way off, but now is the perfect time for families and friends to make camping reservations. Fall begins on Sept. 22 and is a great time to enjoy Florida’s campgrounds and recreational opportunities. State parks include more than 50 family campgrounds throughout the peninsula and Panhandle, including full-facility campsites for tent campers and RVers. All full-facility campsites offer water, electricity, a grill and picnic table, centralized showers, restrooms and a dump station.

Here are 10 Florida parks that have available sites this fall:

Northwest Florida

♦ Florida Caverns State Park: As the only state park in Florida to offer cave tours to the public, Florida Caverns State Park has dazzling formations of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies. Also within the park is the Chipola River, which provides areas for fishing, canoeing and boating. Swimming is popular in the freshwater spring. Full-facility camping is available at a $20 daily rate, plus tax. Recreational opportunities include bicycling, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, geocaching, hiking, equestrian trails, pic nicking and tours.

♦ Torreya State Park: Settled on high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River, Torreya State Park is one of Florida’s most scenic places to visit. Named after the rare torreya tree that only grows on the bluffs along the river, Torreya is popular for camping, hiking and picnicking. Full-facility camping is available for $16 daily, plus tax. Cabins are available for $50 daily and yurts are available for $40 daily, plus tax. Recreational opportunities include geocaching, hiking, picnicking and wildlife viewing.

Northeast Florida

♦ O’Leno State Park: Located along the banks of the gorgeous Santa Fe River, O’Leno State Park has sinkholes, hardwood hammocks, river swamps and sandhills. The river flows through the park and disappears underground, only to reemerge three miles away at River Rise Preserve State Park. As one of Florida’s first state parks, O’Leno is a great place to immerse your friends and family in history. Full-facility camping is available with a daily rate of $18, plus tax. Recreational opportunities include bicycling, birding, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, geocaching, hiking, equestrian trails, picnicking, swimming and tours.

♦ Manatee Springs State Park: The first-magnitude spring at Manatee Springs State Park produces an average of 100 million gallons of clear, cool water daily. During the winter, visitors are able to see West Indian manatees swimming upriver to the warmer spring waters. Full-facility camping is available for a daily rate of $20, plus tax. Recreational opportunities include bicycling, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, tours and wildlife viewing.

Central Florida

♦  Anastasia State Park: More than 1,600 acres featuring four miles of beach, a tidal salt marsh and the maritime and upland hammock are located in the beautiful Anastasia State Park. There is also an archaeological site where coquina rock was mined to create the nearby fortress called the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Anastasia’s full-facility campground includes 139 campsites in a wooded area with easy access to the beach for a $28 daily rate, plus tax. Recreational opportunities include beaches, bicycling, birding, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, geocaching, hiking, picnicking, shelling, surfing and swimming.

♦ Blue Spring State Park: Covering more than 2,600 acres, Blue Spring State Park is the largest spring on the St. Johns River. The park serves as a manatee refuge and a winter home for West Indian manatees. The spring’s crystal clear, 73 degree weather can be enjoyed by swimmers, snorkelers and certified scuba divers. Full-facility camping is available at $24 daily for RVs and tents and up to $95 daily for cabins, plus tax. Recreational opportunities include boat tours, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, tubing and wildlife viewing.

Southwest Florida

♦ Myakka River State Park: As one of the oldest and largest state parks in Florida, Myakka River State Park protects one of the state’s most diverse natural areas. Designated as a Florida Wild and Scenic River, the Myakka flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands. Visitors are offered beautiful views from the boardwalk that stretches out over the Upper Myakka Lake and along the canopy walkway. Full-facility camping is offered with a daily rate of $26, plus tax. There are primitive cabins in the park for $70 a night, plus tax. Recreational opportunities include bicycling, birding, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, geocaching, hiking, equestrian trails, picnicking and tours.

♦ Oscar Scherer State Park: Known as one of the best places to view the threatened species of Florida scrub-jay, Oscar Scherer State Park protects a large acreage of beautiful scrubby and pine flatwoods that once spread throughout Sarasota County. The park offers 15 miles of trail through natural areas, which provide opportunities for hiking, bicycling, and wildlife viewing. The South Creek flows through the park and into the Gulf of Mexico. Full-facility camping is available for up to $26 daily, plus tax. Recreational opportunities include bicycling, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, snorkeling, swimming, tours and wildlife viewing.

Southeast Florida

♦ Jonathan Dickinson State Park: Florida’s first federally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Loxahatchee, runs through Jonathan Dickinson State Park and offers views of the wildlife in the 13 natural communities, which include sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, mangroves and river swamps. Ranger-guided tours of the 1930s pioneer homestead of Trapper Nelson are offered year-round. Full-facility camping is available for $26 daily, plus tax. Cabins also are available for up to $95 a night, plus tax. Recreational opportunities include bicycling, boat tours, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, geocaching, hiking, equestrian trails, mountain biking, picnicking, swimming and tours.

♦ John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: As the first undersea park in the United States, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles. Mangrove swamps and tropical hammocks in the park’s upland areas offer visitors a unique experience, yet the coral reefs and marine life are what draws in most visitors. Glass-bottom boat tours, scuba diving and snorkeling allow visitors to get a closer look at the underwater life. Full-facility camping is available for a daily rate of $36, plus tax. Recreational opportunities include beaches, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming and wildlife viewing.

Invite family and friends to join you at a Florida state park this fall and enjoy all the opportunities Florida has to offer by staying in a campground. Camping reservations may be made at floridastateparks.reserveamerica.com or by calling ReserveAmerica at (800) 326-3521. Boat camping, equestrian camping, group camping, primitive camping and youth camping also are offered at many Florida state parks.

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