Date of Stay: March, 2010
This is a good park to visit if you want a healthy dose of nature and history, with civilization a stone's throw away. There are some short trails to hike along the river and through tropical woodland. There is access to the Estero River by way of a boat ramp, and canoe rentals are available. The campground is wooded, with plenty of foliage between most of the spaces, although some are fairly close together. The handicapped spaces are paved; the rest are dirt. Ours (#100) was relatively level. There is one central bath/laundry/garbage facility; restroom and shower areas were clean and well-maintained; water was hot and plentiful. There is a double dump station. Aside from canoeing, there is the Koreshan Unity village located in the park, and a short bike ride or walk away. (If you walk, take the trail through the woods.) The village features historical buildings and grounds from a now-defunct religious sect. The park is located quite near a major intersection, across which is a Publix supermarket. A little further up the street are an urgent medical care center, dentist, and emergency veterinarian.
Date of Stay: March, 2010
As other reviewers have mentioned, this state park is in dire need of an upgrade. Broken restroom door latches were "fixed" with hook-and-eye additions, leaving door gaps. Showers have one curtain each, a hook or two, no bench except in the handicapped stall. Trail boardwalk has many loose, rotted planks. The RV loop has cramped sites and narrow lanes which are a challenge to negotiate in an larger rig. On the positive side, spaces are shady. There is good water access for boats, canoes, yaks. Hiking trails onsite and nearby are good, from very short to very long. Birding opportunities are very good, especially in season. Many natural attractions are within driving distance, and civilization, if needed, is a short trip west. Volunteers and rangers were very nice and happy to answer questions. Ice cream social and continental breakfast were offered at a nominal fee. Please note that we paid the Florida resident senior rate; otherwise it would have been $24/night.
Date of Stay: February, 2010
If you are looking for a campground where your first grader can operate -- unhampered by a pesky helmet -- an adult-sized ATV without your having to supervise; where the sound of internal combustion engines predominates, interrupted only by blaring country music; and where ATVs, motorbikes and golf carts have unrestricted access to what remains of the wilderness adjacent to the campground, this is the place for you. Restrooms and showers are unisex, individual units accessible from the outside only. Not heated (we were there when the nights were in the thirties). Shower water was hot, but pressure varied widely as others used showers; showers had limited hangers and many had no bench or seat of any kind. Campground sells itself on its website as family-friendly (especially to kids and dogs), and it is that. It also says that it is not primarily an ATV park, but whatever they started out as, they are one now. There were more ATVs than RV's and tents, and there were plenty of those. Family-owned and operated, the place has a friendly staff with an obviously great sense of humor. There is an enclosure with goats, a tortoise and other animals. Hiking would have been great except for having to leap out of the way of ATVs coming around sharp turns. Forget bicycling in camp if you value your life, but a nice ride can be had on the access road running alongside Route 70, over the Peace River, and into Arcadia. We left a day early because of the noise, much of it from our immediate neighbors revving up their ATVs. We will never go again, but again, there is an audience for this sort of thing, and if it's you, have at it.
Date of Stay: June, 2009
Note that this is not on the ocean (the closest choice above), but has many waterfront sites best described as "bay front," close to the Gulf of Mexico. Campsites are not paved, but hard crushed shell, but ours was quite level. The campground is part of a large park complex -- a very large, spread-out park with enough activities to last a long time. A bicycle can get you to many of them. Among them: a huge marina for boat launching; fishing from boats, two piers, and lots of shoreline, including right behind your campsite; miles of wide, paved,winding pathways for bicycles and hikers; boat and bike rentals; an actual old Fort Desoto; swimming in the gulf; doggie park and dog beach. Campsites are relatively private, with lots of foliage and tall trees -- a surprise to us. The pull-throughs, while not on water, are quite large and shaded. Pet loop is separate. There is lots of nature as well as proximity (a couple of miles) to civilization, meaning shopping and restaurants, if you need those. Sunrise/sunset over water photo ops abound, as do wild flowers and birds. This is just a great place to go.
Date of Stay: April, 2009
This was our first time here, or at any KOA campground, since we like the nature-oriented state parks. We were pleasantly surprised at how much natural forest area surrounded this camping area. We were fortunate to get a space at one edge, where I could do a bit of bird watching, and for those who do that, note that there were more catbirds here, in one place, than I have ever seen. (Perhaps they were stopping over during migration, or it may be that there is a high population during the winter.) Proximity to Lion Country Safari, combined with the tickets which are part of the campground package, makes this a really great deal, whether or not you have children. If you do have kids, especially small ones, this is a great place to go, between LCS next door for free (with nice kiddie rides, petting zoo, etc.) and the very nice play area for kids at the KOA itself. (LCS also has a drive-through safari experience which is really quite nice, and if you have no car you can rent one cheaply for the ride.) For tenters, there is a primitive campground, and for those with RVs of all kinds, there are spaces to accommodate all. There are also small cabins for rent. Showers and restrooms were nice, if taxed heavily in the morning, and the individual showers had lockable doors for privacy. For those planning an extended stay, you are close to civilization in the form of food shopping, restaurants, etc.
Date of Stay: March, 2009
The Ortona South campground has two loops, each with one side on the water. Many of those on the other side have a good water view as well. Campsites have level concrete pads with gravel awning-side. Each has a picnic table with a sheltering roof, a fire ring, and a standing grill. Everything is neatly ordered with vast expanses of lawn, meaning if you like neatness you're home; if you like nature, well. Restrooms were clean and nicely kept. Showers are in a large room off the lavatory area, the doorway covered with a curtain and inside are two curtained showers. Hooks and benches are all outside the actual showers stalls. Ortona South is located on the Okeechobee Waterway, at one of the lock installations. Campers can actually cross the east side of the lock across the top of the gates when not in use. Observing the process of flooding and draining the lock up close is worth a stay. It is also pretty much all there is to do, other than pedal a bicycle (or walk) up and down the paved entrance road. There is no shopping of any kind for miles, so good preparation is necessary. There were no noticeable children there during our short stay; while there is lots of room for them, the waterfront would make careful supervision a necessity, and there are no playgrounds. If all you want to do is relax, this is a good place to do it. If you like activity, hiking, birds, natural variety, this would only rate a 5.
Date of Stay: March, 2009
If you are looking for a purely natural area in which to hike or ride your horse, this would be it. There are no stores there or nearby, so be prepared with food and necessities. The campground does not appear to attract a lot of local day visitors, and there are only 20 full service spaces, so quiet predominates. The 20-site loop has a nice restroom/shower facility; showers are hot, and the big double booths have locking outer doors and inner curtains. Other than the twice-daily swamp buggy tour, you will be entertaining yourself. If you are a bird watcher or photographer, this is heaven. While the roads are not paved, they are hard-packed enough to provide plenty of bicycling opportunities, and there are miles of trails to accommodate off-road bicycles. There are also miles of hiking roads (sand) and trails, but beware: the map provided by the park does not correspond with markings on the trails. We took a wrong turn onto a wide road/trail which we later realized did not even show on the map, and added miles to our hike. There are no short hiking loops; if you want a short hike (read: less than 4 miles), you will need to walk up a trail, turn around and go back. In addition to the 20-space loop, there is an equestrian area with 15 loops having neither power nor water, and one outhouse. Adjacent to this loop is a nice multi-corral area for horses. There were none while we were there, but the loop did have a number of campers. Spaces there are very roomy, with woods behind them. Spaces in the full service area are also nice, mostly shaded. Ours wasn't very shady, but it was on the edge of the place, and we had an unobstructed view of the prairie, looking east. At night we heard a family of coyotes howling at the moon. All in all, a wonderful place to camp.
Date of Stay: February, 2009
This was our second trip to Lake Kissimmee State Park, and it will not be our last. This time we were in site 58 (Loop 2), which was huge, shady and private, as well as perfectly level. The campground was pretty full, including kids, but the spread out nature of the campsites minimized noise and feeling of being crowded. As with our last trip here, the wildlife was prolific. Deer wandered through our campsite in the early morning fog. Armadillos and sandhill cranes also came through the campsite. Other sightings included wild turkeys, catbirds, hawks, osprey, ibis, tri-colored heron. Restrooms are modern and clean; the showers are the double kind, with a locking door; there was no curtain, however, between the shower itself and the changing/drying area. Hot water was plentiful through the showerhead, rather than the water saver heads often seen (and the shower not felt). This campground has a marina for small boats and airboats heading out to Lake Kissimmee itself. Near the marina area, which is also not far from the campground, is a nice playground for small children. There are also picnic areas and big open areas shaded by huge live oaks overhung with spanish moss. The campground is three miles from the ranger station at the entrance, but the paved road, which winds through the forest and scrub, is excellent for bicycling. Getting to the lake, however, has to be on foot, and it requires a fairly long hike on a sandy road; there are other hiking trails as well. There is also a cow camp, which we did not get to yet. Supplies are not available at the campground. Forgetting everything else, though, the natural beauty of the campsite alone is worth five stars.
Date of Stay: January, 2009
Campsites which are not waterfront are large. While none are fully shaded, many have trees on or near them and offer partial shade. Waterfront (well, close to the water, with only an access road between the campsite and the inlet) sites are closer together and not as deep; the trade-off is the water view. We were in site 38 this time, a nice location backed against woods. Site was off-level, although not badly, and you could see that some of the other sites in the row were much less level than ours. This park is ideal for serious or casual fishermen, offering easy ocean and ICW access by boat, surf fishing, a huge jetty, under-bridge catwalks, docks, and lots of shoreline along the "inside" of the inlet. Bicycling is pretty good, and aside from the roads inside the park itself, you can go south on A1A to various spots which offer beach access. If you have a car, there is a wildlife refuge a few miles south; also, the only way to get to the north half of the park -- across the bridge -- is by car. There are no bike lanes, shoulders, or pedestrian walkways, unbelievably, and this is a long, high bridge. The north half of the park has the bait and tackle store, camp shop, food, etc., so if you're depending on those things, you need a car. If you like sunrises and sunsets over water, you get both here, with the sunrise over the Atlantic and sunset over the Intracoastal Waterway. There are plenty of birds to photograph: pelicans, turnstones, various seagulls, ospreys, tri-colored herons, great blue herons, warblers, and more. There are lots of big birds on the wing and diving for fish. This was our second trip to this campground, taken at the end of January. Bugs were therefore not an issue, but the wind was. Being right at the shore, any windy conditions are greatly intensified, something to bear in mind with awnings, outdoor furniture, etc. Also, the access road that goes past the shore end of the campground leads to the marina, meaning that there is a good amount of vehicular traffic at times, although at slow speed. There is a playground at the marina, an easy walk from the campground. Beach access from the campground is under a half mile, also an easy walk or bike ride.
Date of Stay: January, 2009
This is a roomy, nicely kept park with a large population of snowbirds: winter residents whose extended stays get them site preference. Spaces are generous, if not especially private; a few are shaded, but most are sunny; 60 have full hookups and slabs, and another 50 have only water/electric, all or most being on grass. There is an onsite dump station. There are two bath houses, both kept clean and featuring hot showers with plentiful flow. Other amenities include a laundry, clubhouse with some exercise equipment and a small library. There are also a few small cabins for rent, handy for those who might want to meet up with non-RV friends. The park is run by the Seminole Indians and is on Indian land. In-park activities include a heated pool with an above-ground hot tub (not hot enough), small playground, an outdoor pool table under a chickee hut. There is a very large, open, mowed field adjacent to the park which could accommodate numerous activities. Around the perimeter is a "nature walk" which amounts to walking along the edge of the field, next to wooded areas. Offsite attractions are mostly available only if you have transportation: an airboat tour, Seminole motocross, a casino. The Ah-Ta-Thi-Ki museum is close enough to reach on foot or bicycle. As for biking, other than around the park itself, there is a road through woods which is about a mile long, the first part paved, the rest hard-packed crushed rock (but easy cycling), which leads to a wide canal. This can be hiked as well. Bird watchers note: there is a large population of killdeer, as well as numerous hawks, various herons, anhingas (?), egrets, ospreys, gnatcatchers and warblers. An airstrip is directly adjacent to the park; there was little activity during our stay, except for two visits in and out by a good-sized private jet. We consider that entertainment! Cell phones and air card showed plenty of bars. Anything other than convenience store food is a good distance away, if you plan to stay long. By good distance, I mean a minimum of 35 miles. This place is way out there.
Date of Stay: December, 2008
Campsites are beautiful, private, and shaded. Ours was relatively level. The only paved ones are one or two handicapped spots, located right next to restrooms; they looked very nice. Our site, 007, had a short path behind leading to the river. While there was plenty of room for out 30' RV, backing in required a sharp lookout for overhanging trees. Showers and restrooms are clean, modern, heated (we were there in cool weather; showers have lockable doors. There are limited hiking trails, nice walk through forest. Except for the immediate area of the ranger station, the roads are not paved, but consist of hard packed material; this was relatively smooth, but did not make for fun on the bicycles. The camp store has a few souvenirs and some supplies and snacks -- and coffee. We did not take advantage of kayaks or canoes, but those are available. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot to do within the campground.
Date of Stay: November, 2008
Fort Wilderness never disappoints. Opportunities for bicycling are very good. All of the advantages of a Disney resort are available, including free and frequent transportation to all Disney parks and areas. In addition to bus transportation, one can take the boat (also free) from the FW dock directly to the Magic Kingdom; this beats going through the transportation and ticket center. Nice large pool; arcades ($); restaurant; playgrounds. There is a very large, fenced dog park where you can let Fido run freely. On the down side, you don't get to choose your RV space; you take what they give you. On the other hand, nothing beats Disney's great service and attitude toward its paying customers.
Date of Stay: November, 2008
Hiking trails and paved bicycling loop are both excellent. Most hiking trails are easiest to access via bikes, since most are located off the long (long) bike loop. Trails are a nice length and almost all are heavily shaded. There is a self-service restaurant on the premises with items priced from $2 (some sides) to $7.50 (baskets); they include the usual dogs and burgers, some sandwiches, several salads, baskets. Very nice ice cream bar. Restaurant hours limited, and vary with time of year. Adjacent camp store is minimal. Our campsite (none paved that I noticed) was fairly level, but some were obviously not. Campsites are somewhat close together. We were there Thanksgiving weekend and many families were there, in both RVs and tents. The result was a very smoky campsite with a great many children running around and screaming, and little respect for space. Some nice photo opportunities on the trails. Of the several restroom buildings, only the new, larger one could not be called rustic; it had two women's showers, both with actual doors, whereas the smaller huts had only curtains. Water was hot. Restrooms were clean right after cleaning, but had no soap at any time for handwashing; right before they were due for cleaning they were pretty cruddy, and the showers clogged with hair.
Date of Stay: June, 2008
This was the largest, most private campsite we have yet experienced. It was surrounded by huge live oaks, covered with ferns. Gorgeous. Our campsite was visited by sandhill cranes and wild turkeys. We saw numerous deer, snakes, armadillo, and a variety of birds. Paved roads for bicycling good. Plenty of hiking. Down side was that the lake is a fairly long hike down a sloggy, sandy road; otherwise the only water you see is the canal which provides boat access to the lake. Nothing in the way of food or supplies for sale.