During Thanksgiving, my hubby and I decided to go to Juniper Springs. Even though I’ve lived in Florida my whole life, this was the first time I would be camping in this beautiful state. Since we had left the booking for the last minute, we didn’t have many options on how long we could stay and the campsite location.
Although, we were lucky enough to find available spots for Thanksgiving day, we weren’t able to reserve one site for more than one night. So we ended up going for one night, but the experience was quite fun.
Camping in Florida: Juniper Springs
Juniper Springs is located in the Ocala National Forest and offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy the sparkling springs. It is also one of the oldest recreation areas on the East Coast. Juniper Springs also has primitive camping (tent camping), which is what we ended up doing. There are a few places that will not allow tent camping, so if this is what you plan to do, look for primitive camping before booking.
Reserving a spot
When my husband was looking into the available spots in Juniper Springs, he looked and reserved our spot online. The process was simple and the website we used to book was very informative. He did need to call one of the agents in regards to the booking, but only because he ended up booking two different spots instead of one.
When we made the reservation, we were informed that our check in time was anytime after 1PM. That was also our check out time.
What to take on your camping trip
If this is your first time camping in Florida, then you may want to keep reading. If it is not your first time, you can skip this.
One of the good things about my husband is that he has grown up camping. He is all about having the correct gear and all about knowing the proper way to camp. I, however, have no knowledge about camping except for what I just experienced during Thanksgiving. If you’re going tent camping, you will need to make sure to have the following items. You may not use it all, but trust me, it will come in handy when needed.
Things to take on your camping trip
- Bug Repellent
- Camping Cookware – Pots, Pans, Wooden Spoons etc…
- Charcoal (if you are going to grill)
- Sleeping Bags
- Sleeping Pad (you’ll need it if you’re sleeping on the ground)
- Warm clothes (it got to about 50 degrees during the night)
- First Aid Kit
- Toilet Paper
- Paper Towels
- Extra clothes
- Hammock (f you have one)
- Survival Gear
- Fire Starter
- A book or something to entertain yourself with
Tip: If you go to Juniper Springs, they sell firewood and ice there, and their bathrooms have toilet paper.
Why Juniper Springs?
When we looked around for campgrounds, we didn’t see many that were available on Thanksgiving day. There were other options, but we went with Juniper because of the location, the lot, and it was a better price than all the rest.
However, Juniper Springs is worth the visit due to the number of activities they have. You can go fishing, hiking, horse riding, picnicking, bicycling, scuba diving, and swimming. They also have canoeing and kayaking but do know that their rental service is temporarily unavailable. You may need to call to find out when it will be available.
One of the best reasons to go to Juniper Springs is because of the springs themselves. Its such a beautiful sight and great to swim in.
Things to know before you go
- The park attendants leave around 6 PM. If you need more firewood after 6 PM, you just need to go to the front, where you checked-in. If you are going in your car, you should see a little storage on the right of the check-in area. You can get the firewood from there and then just pay the park attendants the next morning.
- Each camping lot has the basics – a grill, a firepit area and a picnic table
- There are plenty of RVs in the area, which means you will probably hear the generator going during the day. If you are looking for something more peaceful, you may want to call in to ask if they have campgrounds for primitive camping only.
- Before COVID, they used to have shuttles that would take those in the campsites to the main area with the canoes and so forth, but since we are in a pandemic, the use of shuttles has been stopped. You would either need to walk or take the car to the main area. Walking there could take a long time – consider a campsite that is closer to the springs.
- They do have bathrooms and showers near the campsites. Even though we brought toilet paper, we did not need to use it as the bathrooms are all stocked with toilet paper. The bathrooms are also clean too!
- Each camp lot has a food storage box so that you are not attracting bears. This was really useful to have around.
Even though I was in Juniper Springs for a short time, I enjoyed every part of it. From the set-up to the relaxation, it was such a great experience. I did take warm clothes, but I honestly got really hot during the night. The weather did drop to about 46 degrees Fahrenheit, so warm clothes is recommended even if you are like me, who will end up getting hot.
If you do make your way to Juniper Springs during the summer, then there’s no need for the warm clothes. It’s only if you come for the fall/winter. We did see a bear around our campsite looking for food around 3 A.M. – if you see one or hear one, make sure to stay in your tent and do not attract any attention to yourself. These bears are only looking for food and will not bother your tent unless you attract attention to the tent or you have food.
We ran out of firewood by the end of the night, so if you are in need of more, make sure to visit the front or bring a lot more with you. Although we did bring our own firewood, we only bought a bag of firewood, which wasn’t nearly enough for everything we used it for. We were also unaware that we could take it from the shed and pay in the morning, so that made it even harder on us.
Since we had the bathrooms nearby, we didn’t have to walk far for the bathrooms, which was great. When booking, try to book near the restrooms. This helped me a lot, especially at night when I had to go use the restroom but was a bit creeped out that a bear might come out of nowhere.
My time camping in Florida was great and I can’t wait to go on another camping adventure. We are looking into camping more up North of where we live, but that’s still up in the air.
Tell me, have you ever gone camping in Florida before? If so, what did you like the most?
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