We had almost a 3-week gap in our reservations between the time we left New Orleans and when we arrived at Fort Wilderness at Disney World for our wedding. Money was running low because the Canadian dollar decided to take a nose dive this winter, so we decided to see what we could do about boondocking in Florida in winter. Now that you have all stopped laughing and cleaned the coffee off your monitor, I can tell you we found 3, yes 3, different places to boondock IN Florida IN the winter that were available!
The first two places were in Florida Water Management areas. The third one was through the Day’s End Directory. We had to “book” them all, but the bookings were free and easy to get. We didn’t know about the water management camping until I saw a video put out by popular bloggers Gone With The Wynns. I came across this video about 2 weeks before we needed to start figuring out our first boondocking stay in Florida, so we looked into them and found 2 locations that would work well for us.
The first place we stayed was called Dead River Landing Park Recreation Area in Florida’s panhandle near Ponce de Leon. We chose it because it was near where we thought some friends were staying. It turned out that they had moved further south before we even booked our site there. Oh well, that’s what happens when you don’t check your information before doing things 🙂 We ended up visiting with them twice later on in the winter anyway. When we turned off the main highway onto the side road it was on, there was a small Road Closed sign sitting at the side of the highway. Even after our experience in New Orleans, I still decided to follow the road to get to the campsite. I did, however, keep an eye out for where I could back up into and turn around if and when we needed to. Luckily we didn’t need to turn around and got to the campsites with no issues. It was a nice setup with well-defined sites. We found our site but came in from the wrong side so we ended up having to make a u-turn down by the boat launch with the trailer in tow. Let me tell you, that was something I wasn’t looking forward to. It was a small parking lot, but we made it without touching the camper to the cab of the truck. I also have never seen the tires point in 2 different directions like they did when turning around. It was quite a sight. There were a couple of downside to this beautiful and quiet area. First, the mosquitos were awful. We opened the doors on the truck to get out and figure out how to park and got attacked! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many mosquitoes in my life! Second, no cell receptions. We had and AT&T hotspot, a cell phone on Wind Mobility (which uses either T-Mobile or AT&T in the US for roaming) and a Roam Mobility phone (which uses the T-Mobile network) and none of them had a signal.
After our 3 or 4 days there, we headed down to the Serenova Tract, another Florida Water Management area, in Land O’ Lakes for a week. We had a busy week while we were boondocking there. We visited our friends that we thought were still in the panhandle. Only a few hundred miles difference in locations. Oops 🙂 We went down to St. Petersburg to visit friends and neighbours from back home. We went and got our marriage licence because we were getting married at Disney World a couple of weeks after our stay here. We even went to Disney World to spend the day with friends from home. We found out that they were there by happenstance, made arrangements to meet up and had a great day visiting them at Epcot.
Our third boondocking location wasn’t really boondocking. We found a beautiful place through the Day’s End Directory which was at someone’s home. They had 30 amp electricity and water for us. It ended up being a crazy busy week for us. We visited neighbours, 2 couples, from home that were at a campground in Arcadia and some dear friends down in Naples. We made a run into Orlando to order my replacement Social Security Card. Finally, we had our very first inspection through RV Inspection Connection up in New Smyrna Beach.
If anyone tells you that free camping in Florida in the winter isn’t possible, they are wrong. You just need to do some looking.
After our nearly 3 weeks free camping in Florida in the winter, it was time to start paying for campsites again and start our next adventure, getting married.