Date of Stay: August, 2012
We just finished an eight day stay at this park and had a great time! This State Park has the biggest pool I have ever seen in my life, and given our summers here in Florida, it was a delight! For those into hiking, there is no limit to how many miles you can put in on the various trails, with the longest being just under 12 miles on the Ft. King trail. It should be noted however, that during the rainy season, like now, portions of some trails can be flooded and you might get your feet wet. When all else fails, the loop road around the park is paved and makes an excellent walk of about two miles. Go early in the morning or late in the evening and you will see quite a few deer, and if you are quiet, a bobcat or two. There is a restaurant/snack bar located at the pool, and both are open from 9am to 5pm seven days a week. They are about a five minute walk from the campground loops should you choose not to drive. Restrooms are dated but well maintained, and the Park Rangers and Hosts are courteous and helpful. I was not in all the restrooms, but in ours in Loop 1 we did not have a separate changing area outside of the shower stall. The restrooms are cleaned frequently throughout the day. I should also note that even on the weekends the park is full but quiet and pleasant. This is one of the quietest state parks we have stayed at, and you are not sitting on top of your neighbor. Almost all the sites we saw were in full or partial shade. This was our first time staying here, and I picked site 105 as it looked to suit our needs for two vehicles and 27’ TT. I was not disappointed as the site is big. Now is when I should point out the difference between loop 1 and the other camping loops. Loop 1 is by far the wettest if there has been a lot of rain, and as luck would have it, site 105 is the worst of all. After two multi-hour downpours on back to back days, we had 6 inches of water at our camper steps, and it took two days to dry out. Actually, it took two days for the water to go down and give us somewhat firm mud. This, by the way, is not mentioned on the camp website. We didn’t let it interfere with our fun and simply used a combo of the camper steps, step stools, and the eight foot picnic table to reach firm ground. In defense of the park, they offered to let us move, but because of bookings, it would have required two moves during our stay, and I didn’t want to deal with that. The water in no way hampered the enjoyment of our stay, but for some this I am sure would not be acceptable. Campers offered to pull us out when we left since the space between the loop road and the front of the camper was ten inches deep in mud. I thanked them but assured them the Suburban would pull it out just fine, and it did. We won’t discuss the ruts we left, but the park was going to bring in a tractor and work on it. Enough of that; now I want to mention insect repellent. Bring it! If you plan on hiking the trails or a trip on the river you will have to have it. Being a Florida boy I can tell you not to be fooled if you come to the park during the dryer winter months because there will still be mosquitoes, just a few less, trust me on this one. If you like campfires, the Ranger Station sells excellent wood for seven dollars a bundle. The camp store probably has the most limited selection of items of any park I have stayed at so pack carefully and make sure you bring what you need. If not, you will have to drive a while to get to a grocery store. In addition, this is not a tourist area so the attraction is the park and river. There are not touristy things to do outside of the park. You can rent kayaks and canoes at the store but I have to say they are priced way out of line. For example; A one person kayak (which is the only yak they rent), is fifteen dollars an hour! If you have your own, bring them if possible. Canoes are a bit more reasonable, are two-person, and the better bargain. It just seemed rather odd that I could rent a two-person kayak for the day, at Sugarloaf Key in the Florida Keys, cheaper than in a Florida State Park? You can also rent bikes, surreys, and so forth. Last but not least, the pool is four dollars per person unless you are camping, and then it is included. This does not include a chair with umbrella which has to be rented. There are limited free chairs, and you can always bring your own. I was also surprised that by just raising our batwing antenna, we were able to receive a multitude of digital channels. All-in-all we had a great trip, and if nature is what you are seeking like we were, you can’t go wrong. I do suggest avoiding loop 1 if possible during the summer and 105 altogether.
Date of Stay: July, 2012
We just returned from a stay at this campground and I am happy to say that the renovations have been 99 percent completed, with all the sites open once again. Part of the renovations added more sites with full hookups, far more convenient locations for the hookups, and a lot more sites with slabs. In addition, some small cabins were added. We stayed in the area of the campground east of the main office. I did notice that one review mentioned a raised concrete container that your sewer hose had to go over causing you to have to drain uphill. This is actually a small spill containment area around the connection with walls six inches high and 4 inches wide. With your hose hooked up this actually creates a plumbing trap per se, and with your camper on the pad, everything drains downhill until it hits the trap. This created no problems for us and our TT sits low to the ground, but if one chooses, simply use a fold-out sewer hose support and it is a straight shot. As far as water quality being bad, I am totally stumped as it was fine during our stay. You have a great beach with a small store just before the fishing pier that sells limited tackle, bait, and many other items, including a snack bar. There is also a small store located at the office, inside the actual fenced portion of the campground, that has limited inventory, but they are still getting that up to speed. I was quite surprised at the amount of RV repair items, etc. they already had in stock. Staff was pleasant, restrooms were kept clean, and there are frequent drive by security, not that we saw anything happen which would require them during our stay which included a Friday and Saturday night. By raising our regular batwing antenna we were able to pick up 51 digital stations which was a nice surprise given there are no cable hookups. If you leave the campground and take a left at the first traffic light, it will bring you to A1A. Take another left and you will find a grocery store on your right, and farther down lots of areas of interest. The Port itself has great restaurants waterside after you leave the campground. The roads have been resurfaced and are smooth. The map given upon check-in will alleviate any confusion as to where to go to get to your site; you just have to follow the line they draw on it for you. Our children have outgrown the playground, but it is nice. My only wish is that they had a pool!
Date of Stay: March, 2011
Wow, we have just finished our sixth spring break in a row, and as usual, Sugarloaf Key was our destination. We once again had a wonderful time. This is one of the few places you can camp where you never have to leave unless you want to. If you don’t wish to cook you can have breakfast and lunch at the small on-site restaurant, wings or pizza in the afternoon at the pub, fish from the bridge, and swim to your heart’s content in both the ocean and at the campgrounds’ pool. Follow that up with a good soak in the hot tub and then after a hot shower walk over to Mangrove Mama’s for an excellent dinner. Staff is wonderful and the facilities are well maintained. If you have children, they will have a blast, and because of the layout, they will be easy to keep an eye on. Now with that said, there are many folks who have a problem with this campground that I would like to address. The sites are tight and if you require a lot of space around your camper this is not the place for you. That is especially true if the majority of your time is going to be spent sitting under your awning and not out enjoying what the campground and the Keys has to offer. If the sound of children playing and folks having fun is an irritation, stay away. If you don’t enjoy swimming, fishing, sunning, boating, or kayaking this isn’t the place. If you want a perfect white sand beach, don’t bother with the Keys, they do not occur naturally here. Not the campground’s fault, Mother Nature was the culprit. If the price is a turnoff, you need to not bother with the Keys at all, with the exception of the State Parks. Of course you will give up a lot of amenities to stay in the State Parks, but you will have a bigger site. We will be staying again next year and are already looking forward to it!
Date of Stay: July, 2007
We decided to stay at this park as a stopover on the way to St. Andrews State Park. This was going to be a new experience for us since we had never actually seen caverns. We weren't disappointed, the caverns were really neat. As far as the campground, it is meticulously maintained, extremely quiet, and pet friendly. The only swimming is a spring fed "swimming hole", but even though the water levels were low, the kids had fun. The park itself is actually down lower than a lot of the surrounding land, and doesn't get much of a breeze, so it gets really stuffy. Even though the sites are large and well shaded, be prepared to endure a lot of humidity. The swimming hole and caverns give you a chance to cool down. They have hiking trails, and canoe rentals, and I think this would be a great place to visit in the cooler months, but not for an extended stay if you have children. They will get bored quickly. This is the only reason I didn't rate this park higher. If you are looking for a clean, well maintained park, large shady sites, you have pets, and you like a lot of peace and quiet, this is your spot!
Date of Stay: July, 2007
Wow, love this park! We are a family of four, husband, wife, son 14, and daughter 12. Normally, on a stay as long as a week, we venture into the surrounding area to check out things, this trip was different. I can honestly not tell you anything about Panama City itself; we never left the campground except for ice and a few items at the grocery store! We fished the bay daily, both wading and in our canoe, and spent the rest of the time on the beautiful beaches. The snorkeling was great, and if you have children, the protected lagoon area is awesome! The staff is super, and the restrooms are well maintained. You do not have to leave this park unless you choose to go to a restaurant or check out the tourist stuff. While there is no beach front sites, there are many awesome sites on the bay. I would have given the park a 10 if we didn't have to get in the Suburban to take the short drive over to the beach. Access to the bay for the canoe was a few feet from our site. We are returning next summer for two weeks!
Date of Stay: May, 2007
We have camped at this campground many times, with the latest being for this Memorial Day Weekend. We had a blast! We typically hit the beach during the day, and fish the pier at night, catching naps sometime in between. Our first trip to the park was when my daughter was 2, and my son 4. They are now 12 and 14, and they still have a great time here. For a family with children, or grandchildren, it is really a super place to stay. I would give the park a higher rating if they had a pool, which would make it perfect. The sites vary from short to huge, and the staff does a very good job of matching you to the necessary site for your rig. The store is well stocked, and there is a bait shop if you want to do a little fishing. For those that want to hit the Casino Boats, this couldn't be a better location, and the beach is awesome. While it is an older park and may not have all the bells and whistles of the newer up scale parks, you can't help but have a good time. That is providing the beach and fishing are your thing.
Date of Stay: March, 2007
I have a family of four, which includes two children, ages 11 and 14. This was the perfect place to go for them. They had an absolute blast, and so did my wife and I. We have camped all over the southeast, and have seen some of the best and worst campgrounds available. This ranked way up there on the fun meter! The facilities were clean and in good repair and the staff were courteous and very helpful. The pool was wonderful and a great place to head when you were ready to leave the beach. At the small beach, the water trampoline, and the "Rock", were a blast for the kids, and I have to confess, at 47, I had a ball on them too! The marina is excellent, and the boat ramp is a big plus. They also rent boats, but we didn't give this a try. We brought a 16' square back canoe which we could launch from the marina and motor across the cut and fish the flats. The bridge fishing, which can also be accessed from the campground was quite good. The campground restaurant was great for breakfast, and the pizzas at the bar were quite good. We also visited Mangrove Mama's across the Highway from the campground and enjoyed the entertainment and food. We zipped in to Key West for one day of our stay, but never made it back. We were too busy fishing and swimming. With that being said, the only reason I didn't rate this campground higher than an 8 was due to the tight quarters. If you are a camper that has to have lots of space to be content, this facility is not for you. We had campers tight on both sides. Not so tight we couldn't put down our awning, but there wasn't a lot of room to spare. When we first arrived, and for about 30 minutes after, the tight quarters concerned me. Shortly after that, it no longer mattered, and we proceeded to have a wonderful time. This is a wonderful place for families to come.