Northwest Florida State Parks

Northwest Florida state parks are a great way to get back to nature, see the “real” Florida and get a little exercise and fresh air away from the city. You can also reconnect with family and friends, take the kids on an educational field trip (they’ll have too much fun to suspect your motives) or have an “eco-date.” Entry fees are cheap, which means you can have a full day of fun without spending a lot of money and the list of activities is endless.

Between Tallahassee and Pensacola there are a total of 34 Northwest Florida state parks and historic sites, which is about one fifth of all the parks in Florida. Each park has its own unique reason for being; there are some with miles of hiking trails and horse trails, and others that feature historic sites, like Natural Bridge Battlefield, or museums, historic homes, or beautiful gardens, like Eden Gardens State Park.

Some parks, like Florida Caverns State Park near Marianna, offer full RV hook-ups, and some like Grayton Beach State Park have cabins for rent so you can spend a few days exploring the area. Many Florida state parks like Deer Lake State Park are day use only and are open from 8:00 AM until sundown.

Most parks have picnic areas and bathrooms, but be sure to bring your own supplies of drinking water and snacks, a change of clothes and towels if you’ll be swimming, sunscreen, and bug spray (this IS Florida) since many parks don’t have any nearby shopping. And don’t forget the camera.

In fact there are many ways to enjoy Northwest Florida state parks, from taking photos to hiking, biking, camping, picnicking and more. Several books feature the wildlife and natural areas you'll find in Florida state parks and Florida State Forests so you can get an idea of what you'll find when you visit.

But perhaps you already have visited. If so, do you have a story you'd like to share? If so, let us know, we want to hear it and we'll publish it right here.

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Below we’ve listed all of the Northwest Florida state parks by county with some of their features and activities and whether they have camping facilities. Many parks are on the honor system for paying the entry fee, so please be fair and pay your share. It's what helps keeps these beautiful Florida State parks open for everyone to enjoy.

So browse the list, pick a park and go have an adventure.


Historic Cabins at Camp Helen State Park

Bay County
Camp Helen State Park
23937 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach
850-233-5059
Although humans inhabited this area more than 4,000 years ago, from 1945 to 1987 Camp Helen was a company resort for the employees of an Alabama textile mill. Older buildings from the 1930's show the land was used as a resort then as well. Overlooking Lake Powell, a rare coastal dune lake, this 180-acre Florida state park features historic buildings, both freshwater and saltwater fishing, and a walkway to the beach.

St. Andrews State Park
4607 State Park Lane, Panama City Beach 850-233-5140
In 1995, Dr. Beach named St. Andrews State Park the Best Beach in America. With pure white sands and clear, emerald green water, this 1,260-acre state park has 1.5 miles of beaches and is popular with sun-lovers. The park has two fishing piers, a jetty, a boat ramp and 176 full hook-up campsites for RV and tent camping. Two hiking trails and an interpretive exhibit help you learn more about the park's wildlife and natural communities. There is a camp store where kayak rentals are available.

Escambia County
Southwestern Escambia County is a Florida state parks bonanza. Three parks, Big Lagoon, Perdido Key and Tarkiln Bayou, are located near each other and offer opportunities for water sports like kayaking, and hiking and other outdoor recreation.

Big Lagoon State Park
12301 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola 850-492-1595
As the Gateway to the Great Florida Birding Trail, Big Lagoon's 655-acres of natural communities range from saltwater marshes to pine flatwoods that attract a wide variety of birds, especially during the spring and fall migrations. Kayaking and canoeing are popular and rentals are available. Other activities include swimming, snorkeling, fishing, picnicking, boating and crabbing in the shallow waters of the lagoon.

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Perdido Key State Park
15301 Perdido Key Drive, Pensacola/Perdido Key 850-492-1595
The farthest west of all the Florida state parks, Perdido Key is a 247-acre gulf coast barrier island southwest of Pensacola. Shelling and beachcombing are the order of the day here, as are surf fishing, picnicking and swimming. Public showers are available and boardwalks give access to the beach while protecting the sea oats and fragile dunes.

Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park
12301 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola 850-492-1595
In the 1800s, tar kilns for processing the tar removed from yellow pines were located nearby giving Tarkiln Bayou its name. Today, Tarkiln Bayou Preserve is home to four species of rare carnivorous white-top pitcher plants as well as other rare and endangered plant and animal species. Boardwalks and three hiking trails provide opportunities for wildlife viewing in this 4,300-acre preserve.

Franklin County
Bald Point State Park
146 Box Cut Road, Alligator Point 850-349-9146
Ecologically diverse and historically significant, Bald Point was the location for both an ancient Native American settlement and for amphibious landing training during World War II. Today Bald Point's 4800 acres include coastal marshes, pine flatwoods, and oak thickets, and are popular for birding and wildlife viewing. Facilities include a fishing pier, a boardwalk through the marsh, and picnic pavilions.

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park
1900 E. Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island 850-927-2111
Named by Dr. Beach as one of America's best beaches for 2011, St. George Island has a lot to offer. Fishing, sunbathing, swimming, canoeing, boating, hiking, camping and nature study are just some of the ways to spend time at this 2023-acre beach-front park. Nine miles of some of the most pristine beaches on the gulf coast, hiking trails, two boat ramps and 60 campsites with electricity and water hookups make this a popular Northwest Florida state park.

St. George Island State Park

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Fort Gadsden State Historic Site
Apalachicola National Forest, about 20 miles north of Apalachicola off Highway 65 850-643-2282
Fort Gadsden, also known as the Negro Fort, was originally built during the War of 1812 by the British and manned by African Americans and Creek Indians. In 1818, the U.S. government took over and rebuilt the fort, naming it after the lieutenant who supervised the construction. Interpretive exhibits and artifacts on the role of Native and African Americans during the early 1800s are displayed along a pathway on the banks of the Apalachicola River.

John Gorrie Museum State Park
46 Sixth Street, Apalachicola 850-653-9347
See where air conditioning was invented and learn about the colorful history of Apalachicola and its prominent citizen, Dr. John Gorrie. Located in the heart of the historic district, the museum is across the street from Dr. Gorrie's grave and from the historic Trinity Methodist Church.

Orman House Historic State Park
177 Fifth Street, Apalachicola 850-653-1209
More house than park, this circa 1838 mansion overlooks the Apalachicola River and was the home and business center for cotton merchant Thomas Orman during the mid-19th century. The house features architectural details of both Federal and Greek revival styles and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Gulf County
Constitution Convention Museum State Park
200 Allen Memorial Way, Port St. Joe 850-229-8029
In 1838, 56 territorial delegates came to the booming gulf coast town of Port St. Joe to draft the first Florida Constitution. Today a monument and a small museum commemorate the event on 12 acres overlooking St. Joseph's Bay. Visitors can take a self-guided tour through displays and exhibits with life-sized, audio-animated mannequins that demonstrate the process of drafting a state constitution.

T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
8899 Cape San Blas Road, Port St. Joe 850-227-1327
Named the Best Beach in America in 2002 by Dr. Beach, the 10 miles of windswept sugar-white sands and high dunes tell you this is "old Florida." The peninsula faces west (for amazing sunsets), is great for birding and wildlife viewing and is a buffer between the Gulf of Mexico and the ecologically diverse St. Joseph's Bay. Snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, fishing and scalloping are popular water sports, and hiking, bicycling and picnicking keep land lubbers occupied. The park has 8 cabins for rent and 119 full hook-up RV and tent campsites, a boat ramp and a children's playground.

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Holmes County
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park
2860 Ponce de Leon Springs Road, Ponce de Leon
850-836-4281
Although named for the Spanish explorer who searched for the Fountain of Youth, there's no evidence that Ponce de Leon ever came here. Featuring a spring fed natural swimming hole, a bath house, nature trails and a picnic area, this 406-acre Florida state park is a popular summer-time destination.

Ponce de Leon Springs

Jackson County
Florida Caverns State Park
3345 Caverns Road, Marianna 850-482-9598
Cave Tour Information 850-482-1228
This is one of the few state parks with dry caves and the only Florida state park to offer cave tours to the public. The 45-minute tour through these spectacular limestone caverns is popular, so call in advance to make sure that tours have not sold out. Other activities in this 1319-acre park are swimming, fishing, picnicking, canoeing, boating, hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. There are 35 full hook-up camp sites for RV and tent camping.

Three Rivers State Park
7908 Three Rivers Road, Sneads 850-482-9006
On the Florida-Georgia boarder is Lake Seminole, formed and fed by the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers and creating the Apalachicola River which flows south from here to Apalachicola Bay. This 686-acre park includes, boating, fishing, kayaking and canoeing, two hiking trails, picnic facilities and 30 full hook-up RV and tent campsites. Bald eagles nest here and the park is also home to eatern fox squirrels and other animal and plant species.

Jefferson County
Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park
4500 Sunray Road, South, off U. S. Highway 90, 6 miles west of Monticello 850-922-6007
At this park you'll find Florida's tallest Native American ceremonial mound, located on 188 acres with four natural communities. Built between 1100 and 1800 years ago, the mound is 46 feet high and is part of a larger mound complex of 20 to 28 smaller mounds that extends beyond the park boundaries. Interactive displays tell the history of the mound and the people believed to have built it and a short nature trail leads to a boardwalk and viewing platform. There are bathroom and picnic facilities.

Me at Letchworth-Love Mounds State Park

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Leon County
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
3540 Thomasville Road, Tallahassee 850-487-4556
After purchasing the property for their winter home in 1923, Alfred B. Maclay and his wife Louise began planting an extensive garden, a project that lasted until Maclay's death in 1944. Today, the gardens include a a secret garden, a reflection pool, a walled garden and hundreds of azaleas and camellias. This 1076-acre Florida state park also has a swimming and fishing lake, picnic facilities, two short nature trails and five miles of multi-use trails.

Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park
3600 Indian Mounds Road, Tallahassee 850-922-6007
More than 800 years ago, Native Americans inhabited the area around Lake Jackson. They built several earthen temple mounds and pre-Columbian artifacts have been found here. The mounds are reach by a short hiking trail and there are picnic tables available.

Lake Talquin State Park
14850 Jack Vause Landing Road, Tallahassee 850-922-6007
A made-made lake formed in 1927 when the Jackson Bluff Dam was built, Lake Talquin offers a variety of recreational activities from fishing and boating to hiking and picnicking. An area of rolling hills and deep ravines with many hardwoods, the park is approximately 30,000 acres, 10,000 of which is lake and 20,000 is uplands.

Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park
7502 Natural Bridge Road, about 5 miles south of Tallahassee off Highway 363 at Woodville 850-922-6007
Named for the spot where the St. Marks River drops into a sinkhole and flows underground for 1.25-miles before reemerging, (creating a natural bridge), the park is also the site of the second largest Civil War battle in Florida. Here the Confederate victory in March 1865 meant that Tallahassee was the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi to not be captured by the Union. There are ranger programs, picnic facilities and a reenactment of the battle is held every March.

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Liberty County
Torreya State Park
2576 NW Torreya Park Road, Bristol
850-643-2674
Named for an extremely rare species of Torreya tree that only grows on the high bluffs along the Apalachicola River, Torreay State Park has hiking trails, picnicking facilities, and a children's playground and offers tours of the fully furnished antebellum Gregory House built in 1849. Full hook-up camp sites are availabe as is a YURT (Year-round Universal Recreational Tent), a 20-foot round, domed tent that sleeps five, with flooring, electricity, a lockable wooden door and three large screened windows with flaps.

Okaloosa County
Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
4281 State Road 20, Niceville 850-833-9144
Once a bombing practice range during World War II, this 357-acre park now preserves beautiful old growth long leaf pine trees, several over 300 years old. The park is popular for boating and fishing, hiking, bicycling, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and features full facility camping for RVs and tents.

Henderson Beach State Park
17000 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin
850-837-7550
With more than 6,000 feet of natural scenic shoreline, this 208-acre beachfront park features a pure white sand beach, large picnic pavilions, children’s playground, and a pet friendly nature trail. Sixty campsites for tents and RVs include water and electric hookups and access to air-conditioned and heated bathhouse facilities.

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Santa Rosa County
Blackwater River State Park
7720 Deaton Bridge Road, Holt 850-983-5363
A favorite place for canoeing and kayaking, the Blackwater River is one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the nation. This 590-acre park offers full service camping for tents and RVs and is a popular place for swimming, fishing, picnicking and hiking.

Blackwater River State Park

Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park
County Road 191, about 5 miles south of I-10 850-983-5363
There are no recreational facilites here, but this 835-acre preserve protects one of the state's last extensive wet prairies which supports the largest population of rare carniverous pitcher plants in Florida. There is a gazebo, a public access point and some great opportunities for photography and birdwatching.

Wakulla County
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
550 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs 850-926-0700
Take a river boat tour or a glass bottom boat ride to see area wildlife and where the original Tarzan movies were filmed. Wakulla Springs is one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world and is home to an abundance of wildlife including alligators and a variety of birds. Developed by financier Edward Ball as a resort destination, the historic 1937 Lodge has 27 rooms and still welcomes guests to this 6000-acre wildlife sanctuary.

Ochlockonee River State Park
429 State Park Road, Sopchoppy 850-962-2771
This 543-acre park located on the Ochlockonee and Dead Rivers offers fishing, swimming, hiking and picnicking and has 30 full hook-up campsites. Wildlife is abundant and it's possible to see an endangered red-cockaded woodpecker as well as a rare white squirrel. The park also has a boat ramp and shower facilities.

San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park
148 Old Fort Road, St. Marks 850-925-6216
The history of this National Landmark goes back to 1528 to the Spanish Explorers, but the first fort wasn't built here until 1679. In 1818, Andrew Jackson occupied the fort and from 1861 to 1865 it was held by Confederate troops who built an earthwork fort atop the old Spanish ruins and renamed it Fort Ward. The museum/visitor center at the park displays pottery, tools and other artifacts unearthed near the original fort and tells the history of the area. Picnic facilites are available.

Walton County
Deer Lake State Park
6721 East County Road 30A, Seagrove 850-231-4210
Experience a Florida beach as it appeared to the Spanish explorers. This 1995-acre beachfront park features a rare coastal dune lake, hiking trails and 11 natural communities. A boardwalk across the dunes offers easy access to the beach where visitors can picnic, swim, and fish.

Eden Gardens State Park
181 Eden Gardens Road off County Road 395 N, Point Washington 850-267-8320
This 161-acre park on Tucker Bayou features the historic Wesley house. Built in 1897 and renovated in 1963, it houses the second largest collection of Louis XVI furniture in the country. Enjoy the gardens, a short nature trail, a picnic area, and guided tours of the house.

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Grayton Beach State Park
357 Main Park Road, Grayton Beach 850-231-4210
Named by Dr. Beach in 1994 as America's Best Beach, this 2000-acre beachfront park adjacent to the town of Grayton Beach provides an idyllic setting for swimming, sunbathing and fishing, or paddling a canoe or kayak on a rare and scenic coastal dune lake. Hiking trails, a picnic area, and options for overnight stays include modern cabins and a full-facility campground.

Morrison Springs
Morrison Springs Road, Highway 81 south, about 6 miles south of I-10 near Red Bay 850-892-8703
Owned by the state but maintained by Walton County, this 161-acre park is one of the most popular diving spots in northwest Florida. It features a 250-foot diameter spring pool that produces about 48 million gallons of crystal clear water each day.

Morrison Springs

Topsail Hill Preserve
7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach 850-267-0299
This 1640-acre beachfront park offers 3.2 miles of secluded, white sand beaches and three rare coastal dune lakes. Old-growth long leaf pines, sand pine scrub, and a variety of wetlands offer a bird watching and hiking paradise. Overnight options include camping, full RV hook-ups and cabins.

Washington County
Falling Waters State Park
1130 State Park Road, Chipley 850-638-6130
Go camping on one of the highest hills in Florida and see Florida's highest waterfall at this state park just off Interstate 10. Enjoy full service RV and tent camping, swimming, wildlife viewing, picnicking and hiking all within the park's 171 acres.

So, that's it - all 34 Northwest Florida state parks.

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