District conservation areas offer great fall, winter camping

Dec. 1, 2022

A group primitive campsite

A group primitive campsite at the District’s Palm Bluff Conservation Area in Volusia County.

Ever gone camping in the winter? No need for snowshoes or sub-zero gear if you opt for the Florida version of winter camping. With the reprieve from heat and bugs, fall and winter are ideal for spending time outside and enjoying the natural beauty our state has to offer. Nearly 30 locations throughout the St. Johns River Water Management District’s 18-county service area are available for public camping. And the best part — all are free of charge.

The District owns nearly 785,000 acres of land, and virtually all lands are open to the public 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Our mission in purchasing and managing these lands is to protect and/or sometimes restore Florida’s natural systems. While these lands serve a variety of vital functions — including helping to filter out pollutants from stormwater runoff, prevent erosion, provide regional flood protection and serve as protected plant and animal habitat — they also offer an opportunity for recreation to the public, including camping.

Those interested in camping will have the unique opportunity to experience Florida much as some of the earliest residents did! To ensure you’re adequately prepared for your trip, be sure to follow the guidelines below.

group campsite in Black Creek Ravine

This group campsite is found at the District’s Black Creek Ravines, in Clay County.

What to expect:
Many of the campsites are in remote areas and can only be reached by hiking, bicycling, boating or horseback riding. That also means primitive tent camping with no potable water or amenities. To protect natural resources, camping is only allowed in designated sites with little vehicle access. No recreational campers are permitted onsite.

How to make reservations:
Most sites are first come, first serve, but during the fall and winter — the most popular time of the year for camping — it’s worth planning. You can reserve a campsite for free up to 24 hours in advance of your trip online at www.sjrwmd.com/lands/recreation/camping.

Once your reservation is confirmed, you will receive a camp permit containing all necessary access information. Camping at all District properties is allowed up to 30 days a year per location. However, you may only camp at a property for a maximum of seven days at a time with 24 hours before returning.

Before you go:
Campgrounds occasionally close for maintenance, improvements and land management activities like prescribed burning. During hunting season, campgrounds, including those on lands not designated for wildlife management, may be closed to accommodate hunters. Check the District’s website for any important announcements or closures before venturing out! For more information, visit


Find camping properties near you and start planning for your next adventure. While camping, you may find yourself near areas for paddling and kayaking, fishing, birdwatching and hiking. Opportunities vary by property and season.

Group campsites that can be reserved (www.sjrwmd.com/lands/recreation/camping) are:

North, North Central: Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Putnam, Alachua, Nassau and Baker counties
Bayard Conservation Area

  • Black Creek Ravines
  • Moses Creek
  • Newnans Lake
  • Longleaf Flatwoods
  • Orange Creek
  • Lake George Jumping Gully

Central: Volusia, Brevard, Marion, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Seminole, and Brevard counties

  • Crescent Lake
  • Lake George Pine Island
  • Heart Island
  • Sunnyhill Restoration Area
  • Palm Bluff
  • Lake Monroe Conservation Area
  • Buck Lake
  • Seminole Ranch
  • Hal Scott

South: Osceola, Brevard, and Indian River counties

  • Fort Drum Site 1
  • Fort Drum Site 2

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