December 22, 2022
While Florida may be best known for its beaches and amusement parks, the thousands of springs in the state are a definite popular attraction.
For centuries, people have visited and lived near these fascinating areas for their life giving water. In fact, if you are near springs, you are probably not too far from a burial mound from the indigenous days, and all sorts of artifacts have been found around them. Thousands of springs have been discovered already, and more are still being discovered because of how Florida is structured over the aquifer.
I grew up in Central Florida and have camped at several of these campgrounds, and spent the days enjoying the flowing waters of some, explorations of others, and searching for shells and sharks teeth at others. Each has something different to offer, so it is worth a trip to several. During peak seasons in summer, if you aren’t there early for day use, you may not get in. But dozens have campgrounds attached to them, which allow for use in the day use areas.
This week, our family enjoyed camping at Salt Springs in Ocala National Forest. The campground offers both paved RV camping as well as primitive tent and off-road RV camping. The full hook up campsites are a good size, fitting our 37 foot rig with room for our truck in front on site 24. There’s overflow parking if your RV is larger and the vehicle doesn’t fit entirely in the spot. The sites are paved and mostly level, which is impressive since there are several hills throughout. There’s a picnic table, grill and firepit at the sites, as well as a tall pole and hook, possibly for lights or a lantern. While I am not certain of the pole’s purpose, I can tell you to check carefully before setting up–we had to hook up and move up a few inches when we couldn’t open our outdoor kitchen–a detail we missed since we were focusing on the slides and not the trees.
The area is peaceful, but not entirely silent. It is near a major road with lots of daytime traffic and the sound of families around the campfire in the evening. But most campers are respectful of the quiet hours and settle down if you are an early sleeper.
There’s a camp store with basic supplies a short walk away, and just down the road, within biking distance, is a small grocery, a Dollar General, a laundry mat and pizza shop, as well as the post office, should you need it.
The swimming area is in one section and has a shop with floats, towels and snacks, but isn’t open during the week, or at least wasn’t while we were here this week. There were manatees enjoying the springs while we were here and it was such a treat to see them silently swimming around.
Down another lane near the primitive camping section, there is a boat launch if you bring your boat, kayak or paddleboard. Rentals are also available if you don’t have your own.
There are a few hiking trails through the area, but, unfortunately, they were closed while we were here due to hurricane debris still needing cleared and paths recut. There is also a basketball court, horseshoes, cornhole, and shuffleboard all in the camping area. If you are gathering with a large group, there’s a large covered pavilion next to the basketball courts with picnic tables, grill and firepit.
This campground also offers several dog stations with bags and a disposal can, and we didn’t notice any issues of owners not cleaning up after their pets on our visit.
There are several other springs and things to see and do not too far from here, if you choose to venture away from camp, so there is plenty to do.
If you have work to do, or need to use the internet, we had a good signal and no issue with our Verizon service. Our Dish Network satellite picked up signal without issue, so my guess is Starlink would also work well, although I didn’t see any here while out and about.
If you are looking to stay here, book through recreation.gov and don’t forget to use your membership for a discount, if you have a national parks pass. They do have some first come, first serve spots most of the time (these show as FF on the website), so if you are passing through, you may find a spot. If you are coming with other people but can’t find sites available next to each other, just ask up front if they can help since they sometimes get cancellations and can move you together (but be gracious if they can’t).
There are several Campground Managers here, so if you are looking for a Workcamping spot, definitely check this place out.
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