This spring, a surprising bit of nature news hit my ears from the warm weather mecca of Florida. In a rare bill that made it through the state’s legislature with unanimous support, lawmakers voted to designate and provide funds for the Florida Wildlife Corridor. This 17-million-acre conservation project is working to connect habitat from the Everglades all the way up to the borders of Georgia and Alabama for species like the elusive Florida Panther, Florida black bear, Leatherback turtle, and Whooping Cranes.
While the protected areas—both current and proposed—are a mix of public and private land, many of them are open to the public for hiking, paddling, biking, and camping through the heart of the sunshine state. According to the Florida Wildlife Corridor organization, 992 named rivers and streams cross the Corridor with 1,150 miles of designated paddling trails. The Corridor is also home to 920 miles of the non-motorized Florida National Scenic Trail.
Ready to explore the wild side of Florida that many never see? Here are the best spots to camp along the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
Long Pine Key Campground, Everglades
Everglades National Park is the southern anchor of the Florida Wildlife Corridor and home to a lot of charismatic wildlife, from birds to crocodiles to the Florida panther (if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one). Long Pine Key campground is a favorite within the park’s borders, with clean bathrooms and showers, spacious campsites, and a central location that makes it easy to access all of the Everglades’ trails and overlooks.
DuPuis Campground, Indiantown
Located to the east of Lake Okeechobee along the St. Lucie Canal, DuPuis Campground is a beloved free camping area managed by the South Florida Water Management District. Arrive early in the day to snag one of the sixteen campsites located in a field dotted with leafy trees. While there, explore the DuPuis Preserve’s miles of hiking and horseback trails and head out at night to catch a glimpse of the dark skies overhead. A camping permit is required (learn more about free camping in Florida’s Water Management Districts).
The Great Outdoors RV, Nature & Golf Resort, Titusville
If full amenities and excellent access to nature is what you’re after, take a look at The Great Outdoors RV, Nature & Golf Resort in Titusville. Centrally located to the St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge, St. Johns River, and the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area, this massive RV park has spacious paved sites, two pools, a golf course, multiple restaurants, and a quiet, welcoming vibe. It’s also a stone’s throw from the Kennedy Space Center if you’re interested in more celestial pursuits.
Shangri-La Trailhead & Campground, Ocala
The Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway is a 110-mile linear state park that runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River. Following an abandoned barge canal path, the park has over 300 miles of trails for biking, hiking, paddling, and horseback riding. It’s also a major wildlife corridor, helping connect black bears and other animals to their habitats. The park’s Shangri-La Trailhead & Campground offers access to the greenway with well-spaced sites and strong cell signals if you need to get in a bit of work.
Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak
Close to the Florida-Georgia border runs the Suwannee River, a blackwater river that is perfect for paddling, fishing, and birdwatching. Suwannee River State Park offers dirt-pad campsites tucked into the trees, with beautiful riverside trails and access to historic sites, including two ghost towns. Canoe and kayak rentals are available nearby to ply the waters of the quiet and calm Suwannee.
St. George Island State Park, Eastpoint
Located on a barrier island in Apalachicola Bay, tiny St. George Island State Park is part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, too. Enjoy sandy days along the beach and nights with some of the best stargazing in the area. The campground has sites tucked into the shady pines and is a quick 1/4 mile to the beach. The island features undeveloped beaches and bayside marshes, where you can spot sea turtles, shorebirds, and dolphins out in the Gulf of Mexico.
North Hurricane Lake Recreation Area, Baker
In the far northwestern corner of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, near the Alabama border, lies the Blackwater River State Forest. Filled with gorgeous longleaf pines, the forest surrounds the 30-mile Blackwater River and is a favorite destination for those seeking quiet, primitive recreation near the Gulf Coast. North Hurricane Lake Recreation Area offers 18 campsites for RVs and tents along the shore of Hurricane Lake. This reservable campground features easy access to the Florida National Scenic Trail and has waterfront sites.
Looking for more camping options in Florida? Check out The Best RV Parks, Resorts, and Campgrounds in Florida, the Best RV Parks and Campgrounds in the Florida Keys, and Free Camping in Florida.