Be one with nature while camping near natural springs at primitive campsites near Lake City.
Originally named Alligator after the indigenous Seminole settlement nearby, Lake City is a northern gateway to Florida that houses several lakes and natural springs. Campsites for RVers, tent campers, and primitive backpackers abound among forests with shady oaks, lush marshes, and the raging rapids of the Suwannee River (just 35 minutes away). Nearby parks like Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, Big Shoals State Park, and Osceola National Forest are great base camps for recharging in nature, exploring the landscape, and attending any of the many festivals celebrating the area’s rich culture.
Named after American composer Stephen Foster (whose song “Old Folks at Home” made the bordering Suwannee River famous), this park features a museum about his songs as well as shaded, ADA-accessible tent and RV campsites with electricity and water hookups that serve as launch points for days spent paddling and canoeing. Primitive group campsites with picnic tables and fire rings can host those attending the park’s Florida Folk Festival in late May. Hipcampers can also find riverside cabins with screened-in porches and full kitchens ready to make a delicious meal out of the fish caught (with a license) along Suwannee.
Boasting huge stretches of whitewater rapids among limestone bluffs rising 80 feet high, Big Shoals State Park earns a Class III Whitewater classification when the Suwannee River swells to 61 feet above sea level. For a calmer experience, trek down Woodpecker Trail connected to Little Shoals Rapids. There’s no camping in the park, but nearby Hipcamps offer RV, tent, and cabin campsites. Catch a glimpse of bald eagles, scarlet tanagers, and wading birds to flesh out life lists, or witness white-tailed deer and timber rattlesnakes in their natural habitat. Campers visiting to hunt should make sure they have the proper licenses, as hunting is permitted in the wildlife management area during certain game seasons.
Named to honor Seminole leader, hero, and warrior Osceola, Osceola National Forest is 200,000 acres of pine flatwoods and cypress-hardwood swamps, and home to many endangered animals. Waterfront campsites are close to public boat launches and serve as hunting camps during hunting season. There are no reservations for campsites, so Hipcampers arriving early get first pick of electrical and water hookups or primitive camping sites. Fishing, boating, and water-skiing on Ocean Pond are popular activities, as is hiking along the Trampled Track Trail with historical interpretations telling Osceola’s history.
With average highs near 90°F, summer is a popular time to visit Lake City campgrounds, with lots of opportunities for water recreation like swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking to cool off. The humid, subtropical climate rarely sees cold snaps, even during winter, so many campers find October through March to be the best time for backpacking, tent camping, and car camping when even the muggiest of days cool down to an average of 45°F.