Florida RV & Camping: Time, Dates & Rules (With Examples)

Known to be very beautiful and just as hot, Florida is the perfect place to camp year-round for most adventurous campers.

With an incredible collection of tropical birds, reptiles, and other wildlife, there is so much to see in Florida that you’ll have to take several camping trips to see it all!

While Florida is very beautiful, it also has its challenges, such as mosquitos, swamps, predators, and hurricane season.

However, Florida can be one of the most exciting landscapes for the prepared camper to traverse in your free time.

Peak Camping Times:

The first most important thing to consider when you camp in Florida is hurricane season.

Camping in Florida is a year-round activity, and while it may be beautiful during most of the year when it rains in Florida, it pours. Between June 1st and December 1st is the Florida hurricane season and is at its worst during August through October. If you decide that you want to camp during these months, make sure that you are fully prepared to cancel and get out of an area at a moment’s notice.

This means booking campsites that don’t charge you or penalize you for cancellations and camping in inland areas that are safer from hurricane damage.

Always monitor the weather when camping in Florida and please listen to the professionals about what safety steps you should take when something occurs.

Other than hurricane season, most campers prefer to stick to spring and fall when it comes to Florida camping. This is because the summers there are incredibly hot.

Not only can the incredible heat be uncomfortable, but it can cause injury or illness. Be careful when camping in Florida, keep the bugs off, and stay cool!

Can you Go RVing in Florida Outside these Dates?

You can camp in Florida year-round, especially with an RV that is well-equipped for all seasons.

With a proper air conditioning unit, you will find that camping year-round anywhere is a great experience. Many retirees in Florida live in their RVs year-round.

However, please keep in mind that older models of RV may not be well-suited for extreme heat. Over time, insulation or poor maintenance can interfere with your RVs ability to keep out the heat or the cold.

If you decide to camp during extreme heat or cold, make sure that your RV is prepared.

Where Can you Camp for Free in Florida?

Government or public land is great for dispersed camping.

Dispersed camping (also known as free camping or boondocking) is completely primitive and not regulated by a private campground owner or staff.

This means that your site is in the wilderness. There are no water pipe hookups or electricity with dispersed camping. Instead, you pitch a tent and build your own fire on the ground.

When dispersed camping, you must adhere to local campfire restrictions and camp at least 100 feet away from a water source.

Here are a few places that you can camp for free in Florida:

Ocala National Forest:

One of the more popular national forests in Florida, Ocala is a beautiful place to find migratory birds and sandy beaches when you camp.

Ocala national forest is located north of Orlando and south of Gainesville.

According to the USDA forest service, over 600 lakes and rivers are within the national forest borders. You can swim, snorkel, canoe and boat in most of these locations.

There is also hunting and fishing in this area, so be careful when and where you go camping in Ocala.

If you are looking to camp for free in this area, check out these locations:

  • Alexander Springs Wilderness
  • Davenport Landing (and trail)
  • St. Francis Trailhead
  • Juniper Prairie Wilderness
  • Billie Bay Wilderness
  • Little Lake George Wilderness

These locations are listed on the USDS forest service website and include more information on rules, regulations, activities, and addresses within Ocala National Forest.

Osceola National Forest:

Head west of Jacksonville, Florida, to find the Osceola National Forest!

More of a hunting and fishing location, Osceola is great for traversing the wild swamps of Florida and seeing all the wildlife within it.

This is a more rustic and tranquil setting that visitors with a penchant for adventure and a love of the land will enjoy!

If you are looking to camp for free in this area, check out these locations:

  • Big Gum Swamp Wilderness
  • Cobb Hunt Camp
  • Seventeen Mile Hunt Camp
  • West Tower Hunt Camp
  • Wiggins Hunt Camp

These locations are listed on the USDS forest service website and include more information on rules, regulations, activities, and addresses within Osceola National Forest.

Apalachicola National Forest:

Are you less of a swimmer and more of a biker or hiker?

You should definitely check out Apalachicola National Forest! This national forest is located in the panhandle of Florida near Tallahassee.

Filled with unique plant and animal life, as well as miles of trails, this is the family-friendly adventure you have been looking for!

In their more rustic areas, hunting is allowed during certain times of the year, making sure that you are going at the proper time and are safe.

There are a LOT of areas to camp for free in Apalachicola National Forest, so here are just a few to check out:

  • Cliff Lake Hunt Camp
  • Clear Lake Wilderness Study Area
  • Bradwell Bay Wilderness
  • Otter Hunt Camp
  • Harpers Hunt Camp
  • Mud Swamp / New River Wilderness

These locations are listed on the USDS forest service website and include more information on rules, regulations, activities, and addresses within Apalachicola National Forest.

Can You Camp on Public Hunting Land in Florida?

Camping is allowed on public hunting land in Florida.

However, this is only at designated campsites and during certain seasons for campers’ safety.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission regulates these areas and includes more information on their federal site for campers to better understand when and where to go.

If you decide to camp during hunting season (or hunt, for that matter), you will most likely need to check in with park rangers, have a hunting or fishing license, and register your firearm.

Camping Rules & Regulations in Florida:

– Alcohol:

Any camper must be the legal age of 21 before drinking alcohol in any capacity.

If you are of age, you cannot drink alcohol in public areas such as beaches, playground parks, or picnic areas.

When drinking alcohol, make sure that it is in an appropriate container and kept away from minors. Also, only drink alcohol in designated areas.

It is usually alright to drink alcohol at your designated campsite as long as you are of age.

– Firewood & Campfires:

Fireworks are prohibited in all Florida state parks and, therefore, should not be brought on your camping trip.

Fire pits are usually designated in your campground and, therefore, would be restricted to those areas only. If you are primitive camping, follow local ordinances and make sure only to use wood that is already downed and dried on the ground.

Do not chop down your own trees or branches to make a fire.

Furthermore, all fires made in public land during primitive or boondock camping must be completely put out and swept away after use.

Never leave a fire unattended.

Finally, don’t burn anything that could potentially harm you, such as poison ivy, as this can cause difficulty breathing or even further harm.

– Pets:

Most universal pet laws in the United States require that pets be kept on 6ft leashes and monitored at all times.

It is also required that you pick up any pet waste and dispose of it in designated trash bins or areas.

Service animals are welcome in all areas of state parks.

Furthermore, protect local wildlife by keeping your dog away from any tropical birds or other animals that they may try to chase or hunt.

– Local Plants or Wildlife:

Plants, animals, and public property are protected in Florida, as with all state parks and national parks.

This means that you can’t take souvenirs with you. In Florida, there are amazing plants, flowers, shells, and other beautiful natural wonders on your path, but leave them alone.

Disturbing or taking local plants or wildlife from their natural habitat may incur a fee or jail time, depending on the offense.

Also, it is recommended that you watch out for poisonous animals such as snakes or frogs. Alligators can also be dangerous, so do not mess with them.

References:

What To Expect When You Camp In Florida

Find Free Camping In Florida, From the Panhandle to the Everglades

FLORIDA STATE PARK RULES

Hunting & Camping information MyFWC.com

Welcome to the National Forests in Florida

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