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Camping on one of Florida's highest "mountains" and other adventures in the Sunshine State

My first stop after leaving Rocky Bayou State Park was Falling Waters State Park.


It is a small campground with only two dozen sites but it has several claims to fame.


The campsites are located on one of the highest mountains in Florida. 324 feet above sea level. So make sure to acclimate yourself to the altitude if you are arriving from lower elevations. Like Death Valley.

A boardwalk path leads you the state's highest waterfall.

Falling-Waters-Trail Waterfall-1

They claim it is 73 feet high.

That number includes the sink hole it drops into and disappears from...


There is also a little lake with a little beach.

Falling-Waters-Swim-Area Falling-Waters-Beach

I was very impressed with this place. Highly recommended.

Next stop was Florida Caverns State Park.


The caverns are closed for tours on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I arrived on Tuesday for one night.

There are 38 sites here including 4 equestrian ones.

Florida-Caverns_016 Florida-Caverns_038

The swimming hole is spring fed and looked kinda spooky in the morning mist.


The view beyond the bridge was even spookier.


How about a black and white photo just to turn up the spook factor.


Don't you just want to dive in for a dip?

The mist followed me to Three Rivers State Park.


The 30 campsites are located near the shore of Lake Seminole. Several are right on it, like number 15.


There are canoe rentals.


A fishing pier.


And a fancy cabin.


So why is it called Three Rivers instead of Lake Seminole?

Well, since you asked.

The Flint and the Chattahoochee rivers join up to form the lake just above the Jim Woodruff Dam. Below the dam, the combo is called the Apalachicola River, which flows into the gulf. Hence "Three Rivers".

So there you go. Informative and educational. I try to do my best.

Torreya State Park and deja vu were next.


Torreya is the boonies, about 25 miles from any real supplies, so keep that in mind. What keeps this campground's 30 sites full are the hiking opportunities. This is Florida's version of the Texas Hill Country.


The sites are on a mini-mesa and I nabbed a western facing one, number 27, to enjoy some brief sunshine.


Two sites over, someone pulled in with a teardrop trailer.


It was the exact same type I dragged around for 8 months last year.

Anyway, Suwannee River State Park was next.


There are several state parks in Florida located along the Suwannee River, a very popular canoe trail.

This one has 30 sites like number 10.


And the coolest cabins I have seen yet in Florida.


I could live in something like that. Seriously.

A boat ramp led down to the river.

Suwannee-Boat-Ramp Suwannee-River-1

Nearby was a park named after some guy.


He wrote several songs including "Gators Grabbed my Girdle" and "Old Folks at Home".

I am teasing about the first, but the second one became a world-wide sensation.

You may know it better by the first line.

"Way Down Upon The Suwannee River".

Yeah, that guy. He eventually composed over 200 songs.

But none as famous as that one, which made the river famous as well.

So the Florida Federation of Music Clubs decided to do his memory proud and the state opened this park in 1950 in White Springs.

There is a museum.


I could live in that as well...

A big tower.


And even a riverside gazebo.


Alongside the river.


But no swimming. At least in this campground...


There is a lot more that I didn't get a chance to photograph. An auditorium, an amphitheater, a craft village, where large men wearing aprons pounding on horseshoes, and lots of other things to while away the day.

Oh, there is also a campground. 45 sites with the largest pull-thru's I have seen. Like number 15.


You could park a 200 foot rig there.

Just don't try to park anything here on Memorial Day Weekend. Unless you have made reservations well in advance.

The first Florida Folk Festival was held here in 1953 on that weekend and the tradition continues.


Sorry for the glare. It was sunny for a bit.

I started to head south with a stop at Ocean Pond.


This medium-sized forest service campground has 67 sites. None are reservable. But check this out.

Sites 1-19 have electric and water for $18.

Sites 20-47 have just water for $12.

Sites 48 and up are primitive for just $8.

The bonus is that Florida honors the "America the Beautiful" pass in it's national forests. Not just the Access Pass or Senior Pass but even the Interagency Annual Pass. This gives you half off the rates. Almost.

The prices drop to $12, $6, and $4.

Since I had a current IAP it cost me $6 per night. I stayed the whole weekend.

Flush toilets and free showers made it perfect.

There are many sites by the pond. Number 16 was good and I stayed in number 40.

Ocean-Pond_016 Ocean-Pond-Campsite

A boat ramp and beach are included at no charge.

Ocean-Pond-Boat-Ramp Ocean-Pond-Beach

Those pictures were shot last Friday. Saturday was sunny and folks were enjoying the pond. Well, it's called a pond but it's close to 2000 acres in size.


So I decided to build a campfire. With some help from some neighbors.


They brought the big logs.


Not too shabby.

Monday was onward to O'Leno State Park.


This is one of the first state parks in Florida. There is a suspension bridge and other buildings built by the CCC back in the 1930's.

O-Leno-Bridge CCC-Building-1 CCC-Building-2

Why don't they build houses like that nowadays? I want one.

There are 61 sites and most look like number 14.


There are canoe rentals.


And a swimming area in the Santa Fe River.

Santa-Fe-River O-Leno-Swimmming-Area

See, the gators are not allowed into the roped off area.

Sometimes gators don't play by the rules, so the park has thoughtfully provided a warning sign.


The red underline is mine. I always read the fine print.

Silver River State Park is no more. The name has changed to Silver Springs State Park. Ergo the shiny new sign.


The state annexed a water park next door in October and plans to provide a connector road directly from the campground.

There are 59 sites with some pull-thru's almost as big as Stephen Foster offers.


Yes, that is one campsite. Number 4. I stayed in number 34, a smaller site.


Miles and miles of trails surround this park and I walked the river trail on Wednesday morning.


Which brought me to this sign.


I like most bears, grizzlies not so much, so I looked forward to an encounter.

Hearing some thrashing in the bushes I readied my camera.


I guess bears look different in Florida. Skinnier and more tanned.

But at least I saw one.

I passed a bizarre tree. It looked confused on which way to go.


I can relate.

Found the canoe launch.


And the misty Silver River.

Silver-River Mist

At the last two state parks I visited I ran into other Scamp owners. They told me about Scamp Camp. They also mentioned that any available sites for the weeklong event at Highlands Hammock State Park had been long sold out.

Being ever an optimist I looked online Tuesday night. And found one spot for a single night. Good enough.

So I went there on Wednesday afternoon.

Highland-Hammocks-Sign Scamp-Campsite

Yikes! I could see 9 eggs from my campsite.

Scamps everywhere. You could not move without stepping on one.

And the potluck dinner was for that night. Cool.

Until the rain came. Sorry Scampers.

The awnings quickly unfurled. I made my own, kinda.


Then the clouds burst open , the rain intensified, and that was that. No potluck dinner.

Yesterday morning was better so I walked around the campground, ogling the other Scamps. Talking to the owners and picking up tips.

Random Scamp Camp pics.

Scamp-4 Scamp-5

You can tell by the photos that there is not a lot of separation between campsites.

Unless you are doing a group gathering or are an exhibitionist, I don't recommend this campground. There is absolutely no privacy.

Thursday I headed west 25 miles where I am currently encamped at a Thousand Trails spot. Just for a bit.

Regards, Park Ranger


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