Often when people think of Florida, they think of sandy beaches and theme parks. While these well-loved attractions abound in Florida, there’s more to the state. RVers and tent campers alike will find a place of adventure and relaxation with Ocala National Forest camping.
Keep reading to find out if you should add Ocala National Forest to your travels.
Table of Contents
- Where Is Ocala National Forest?
- Can You Camp Anywhere in the Ocala National Forest?
- Top 10 Developed Campgrounds for Ocala National Forest Camping
- Where Can I Camp for Free in Ocala National Forest?
Where Is Ocala National Forest?
Ocala National Forest is in central Florida, directly west of Ocala city. Visitors can access the forest easily from several major Florida cities, including Orlando, Jacksonville, and Tampa. The Ocala National Forest is in the heart of Florida and includes more than 600 lakes and rivers. While visiting, you can enjoy swimming, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, and boating.
Can You Camp Anywhere in the Ocala National Forest?
There are both developed campgrounds and dispersed grounds available within Ocala National Forest. Campers can use the forest for dispersed camping with a few regulations in place.
If you plan to camp while visiting Ocala National Forest, familiarize yourself with the rules. Breaking regulations can not only result in a fine but also camping access restrictions for future campers.
Top 10 Developed Campgrounds for Ocala National Forest Camping
Ocala National Forest has 14 developed campgrounds. Campgrounds in Ocala National Forest are primitive but often have bathhouses, including showers and a dump station. Here are our top picks for Ocala National Forest camping.
1. Salt Springs Campground
About: Salt Springs Campground is the largest of the campgrounds within Ocala National Forest. Salt Springs is the only campground within the forest that offers full hookups for RVers. There are 106 RV sites and an area for up to 54 tents.
The campground is a combination of palms and pines, creating excellent shade for campers. Campers will enjoy fishing and hiking. There are basketball courts as well as a horseshoe pit within the campground.
Cost: Full hookup RV sites are $50 per night and tent sites are $31 per night.
Hookups Available: RV sites have full hookups while tent sites are non-electric with water available.
2. Alexander Springs Campground
About: Alexander Spring Campground offers four loops for both RVs and tents. There are 67 sites for dry camping. The campground can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet long. These sites are shady and level for ultimate comfort.
Campers have fire pits, picnic tables, and grills, plus showers. Visitors can swim, snorkel and dive year-round in the spring. The water is always a comfortable 72 degrees and extremely clear.
Cost: No matter whether you’re tent camping or RVing, it’s $28 per night.
Hookups Available: There are no hookups at this campground; however, there’s drinking water and a dump station.
3. Clearwater Lake Campground
About: Clearwater Lake Campground houses 42 campsites. Some sites can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet. The campground offers large shaded areas and a fire pit with toilets and showers available.
Those camping at Clearwater Lake Campground will enjoy the proximity to Clearwater Lake and all the water recreation opportunities available. Swimming and canoeing are popular among visitors.
Cost: Each of the 42 campsites is $25 per night.
Hookups Available: There are no hookups, but you’ll find drinking water and a dump station on location.
4. Juniper Springs Recreation Area
About: Juniper Springs Recreation Area is one of the oldest and yet most popular campgrounds in Ocala National Forest. The campground offers 79 large and level sites that can accommodate RVs up to 45 feet. Each site has a fire pit, picnic table, and a generous amount of shade.
There’s abundant wildlife in the area, and visitors will love swimming in the warm natural pool in the day-use area. Canoeing is also popular at this campground.
Cost: All 79 campsites are $28 per night.
Hookups Available: There are no hookups available. Drinking water is available to campers. A dump station is on location.
5. Lake Dorr Recreation Area
About: This rustic 34-site campground is a perfect getaway. The campground is ideal for small RVs and tent camping. Navigating the surrounding roads can be a bit tight for larger rigs, so avoid this location if your RV is over 28 feet. There are picnic tables as well as fire rings at each site. Bathrooms are on-site, and campers will enjoy hiking and wildlife viewing.
Cost: All 34 rustic sites are $20 per night.
Hookups Available: No hookups available. Drinking water is available throughout the campground.
6. Rodman Campground
About: Just on the outskirts of the forest lies Rodman Campground, featuring 64 total campsites. Ocala National Forest campers will enjoy a picnic table and fire ring at their site, and fires are permitted unless there’s a current fire ban. Some sites also include a grill with their fire ring.
Campers will enjoy picnic pavilions as well as multiple boat ramps in the campground. Mountain biking is popular in the area. If biking isn’t your thing, there’s also excellent hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
Cost: $22 per night for electric and water sites. $12 per night for primitive sites.
Hookups Available: There are 38 sites with electric and water and 26 primitive sites. A dump station is on site.
7. Shanty Pond Campground
*This campground is currently listed as closed*
About: Shanty Pond Campground is a favorite among equestrians and hunters. It’s perfect for those who aren’t interested in amenities but just want pure nature. The campground offers picnic tables, but it’s not a day-use area, so you can rest assured that aside from other campers, you’ll have solitude during your time here.
Cost: $10 per night.
Hookups Available: This campground is primitive, but there’s a vault toilet available.
8. Big Bass Campground
About: Big Bass Campground is a seasonal campground open October-April. With 19 campsites for RV and tent camping, this could be the perfect place to set up camp. There are vault toilets if you’re not in an RV with a bathroom, but it’s otherwise very basic and primitive, perfect for getting away from it all. It sits on the edge of Ocala National Forest, so campers can enjoy nearby hiking and wildlife viewing.
Cost: This budget-friendly campground is $15 per night.
Hookups Available: No hookups are available. Drinking water is available; however, there’s no dump station on site.
9. Ocala National Forest’s Lake Delancy West Camping
About: Lake Delancy West is truly primitive camping. Other than a vault toilet, there are no amenities except the beautiful forest around you. It features 30 sites and picnic tables throughout the campground.
Most campers are here to make use of the Ocala North OHV Trail System. If you’re seeking the perfect place to disconnect, or you want to connect with nature, this is it!
Cost: These primitive campsites are $10 per night.
Hookups Available: No hookups or water is available, so come prepared!
10. Lake Eaton Campground
About: Lake Eaton Campground is a small, primitive campground in Ocala National Forest with only 14 camping sites. It’s ideal for those hoping to fish. There’s lake access via a boat ramp. The campground is open seasonally from October 1st-June 1st.
Sites are first-come, first-served. Each site comes with a fire ring and picnic table. According to some reviews, those wishing to visit this campground may do better with a high clearance vehicle.
Cost: $10 per night for a single site and $15 per night for a double site.
Hookups Available: There are no electrical hookups at Lake Eaton Campground. There’s non-potable water available via a hand pump and toilets.
Where Can I Camp for Free in Ocala National Forest?
Free dispersed camping is allowed throughout Ocala National Forest. Follow all standard boondocking protocols, such as “leave no trace.” Only camp in established dispersed camping sites or areas that will not damage vegetation, and check-in with a ranger to understand camping expectations.
You cannot camp in developed recreation areas or within 100 feet from streams and other water sources. Avoid camping in the middle of a clearing or meadow as well. Additionally, camping is only allowed in designated campsites during hunting season.
Overall, Ocala National Forest is a great place to get away from the crowds that typically flock to Florida in the winter months.
Have you had the opportunity to make use of Ocala National Forest camping? Would you prefer to stay in an established campground or utilize the option of dispersed camping? Drop a comment below to let us know!
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