January 29, 2019 (by Angela)
Over the last few years, we’ve become fans of Florida’s state parks. If you look at posts from February (or maybe even early March) 2017, you’ll see how much Jim, Chewie, and I enjoyed our day-visits to several of the Florida parks; however, it was not until this month that Jim and I actually camped in Florida state parks. It has been a wonderful experience!
During the first two weeks of January, Jim and I camped at Blackwater River State Park near Holt, Florida. The sites varied in size, but each was immaculate. The sites there were level, and the gravel is freshly raked evenly across the entire lot after someone leaves. Fire pits are cleaned, and all is checked. I’m not sure if each campsite in the park has full hookups or not, but ours did. There was a wooden picnic table, a grill, a fire pit, and a clothes line at each site. Trash set out at the road is picked up each morning. As a small park, there were only two trails through the towering pine trees and along the river, but the walks twist through beautiful scenery. Due to recent flooding from heavy rain, we didn’t walk down by the river as much as we might have. The river is deceptively dark due to tannins from the pine trees, which gives the water dark huw. As one gets closer, it looks like tea, but as you stand on the edge, you can see clearly all the way to sand bottom. The staff at the park, both rangers and camp hosts, are friendly and helpful. The park is quiet and restful. We can strongly recommend a visit to Blackwater River State Park.
Last Saturday, Jim and I moved east to Suwannee River State Park near Live Oak, Florida. I’d been told that the sites were more “primitive” than at Blackwater. The may be true in a way since the sites are not lined with wood rails and filled with gravel, and most are not really level. Yet, we still have full hookups, a picnic table, a fire pit, and a clothes line. There is a bath and shower house, as there is at Blackwater. At Suwannee River State Park, there are also cabins and a coin-operated laundry facility, which were things not available inside Blackwater SP. Two children’s playgrounds are in the park; Blackwater had one. A sheltered picnic area is located near the river and one of the playgrounds. This park offers six trails varying in length from a quarter of a mile to over 13 miles. This park, like Blackwater, is named after and focused on a river that rambles through the park – the Suwannee River. Walking the river trail is beautiful. Live oaks, hanging with Spanish moss, grow along its banks. There is some educational information along the Earthworks trail. For example, you learn about the old steamboats that once traveled up and down the river. Some old steamboat parts are on display. Also within the park, the Withlacoochee River converges with the Suwannee river, and they ramble on as one. Suwannee River SP is also peaceful and quiet, but we’ve seen more wildlife here.
In fact, as I was writing this, a squirrel climbed the ladder at the back of our camper to our roof. Then, he took refuge from the rain between the top of our big slide out and the awning that covers it. Once he had the lay of our roof, he jumped back and forth from a nearby tree. I ran him off, but he looks down at me defiantly. Once I’d go inside again, he’d return to the roof. He seemed to be telling me that I parked this thing in his “hood,” so he was claiming it as his. LOL
As I liked it at Blackwater SP, I think I like Suwannee River State Park even more. Visit this state park if you have a chance. My only real disappointment with both of these parks is the lack of recycling options. Blackwater collects aluminum cans for recycling, but that was it. To my knowledge, Suwannee River offers no recycling options. I think parks should set the example in recycling. Also, I want to remind you that when in state parks, cell phone service may not be very strong; it varies. Ability to get a clear shot to the southern sky was limited in both parks in which we stayed this month. We have not been able to use our satellite dish as a result. The pines in one and the live oaks in the other almost completely blocked the view needed. I’ve only seen one site in each park where someone was able to use their dish during the two weeks we were camped in each. However, from what we have seen and experienced so far, you really can’t go wrong with a stay in a Florida State Park. There’s too much to see and do to worry about getting TV channels. 🙂