Florida is not just home to Mickey and Minnie Mouse. It is also home to an abundance of diverse wildlife crawling along the ground, swimming through the water, and soaring through the skies. We have created a list of the perfect five spots for RVers to enjoy all kinds of wildlife while road tripping around Florida in their big rigs or converted vans. In fact, three of the parks we list are part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
Whether you want to start in the east or the west, we will take you around Florida in a loop for a chance to find the big Florida five:
- Black Bears
- Different Species of Birds
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Located on Florida’s panhandle, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is within a few hours’ drive of Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City. Topsail Hill is a pet-friendly RV paradise with 156 RV sites. The RV campground has water, 30 or 50 amp electric, digital cable, sewer, laundry facilities, and heated showers.
Park your RV and head out on over 15 miles of trails. You’ll have the chance to see a variety of birds both inland and along the shore. Some of the birds you might see are red-shouldered hawks, Eastern bluebirds, red cardinals, and ospreys, as well as threatened snowy plovers and piping plovers. You may also see reptiles and mammals, such as gopher tortoises and deer.
Anastasia State Park
In Northeast Florida, just an hour south of Jacksonville, is Anastasia State Park. Just a short stroll from the beach, you can observe wildlife along the Ancient Dune Nature Trail or go canoeing or kayaking along the beach. Anastasia is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with 195 identified bird species.
The park is an important bird-nesting area, and visitors will most likely see imperiled species such as least terns, Wilson’s plovers, and black skimmers. Waterbirds, such as the great blue heron, tricolor heron, wood stork, and roseate spoonbills, can be seen in the salt marsh along Salt Run. Osprey, bald eagles, and owls can also be seen in the trees or flying high above.
The park campground has 139 campsites, all located just a short walk from the beach. All sites have electricity and water, a picnic table, an in-ground grill, and a fire ring. There is also a communal dump station.
Manatee Springs State Park
Near the Suwannee River on Florida’s Gulf Coast is Manatee Springs State Park. The springs are gorgeous and a great place to go SCUBA diving. There are underground caves where 35 and 150 million gallons of crystal-clear water flow daily. This aquatic cave system is also one of the longest in North America and is home to a rare species of crayfish. As the name implies, manatees can also be seen frequently in the spring, especially during the winter months.
The park has 80 campsites in three loops. There are electricity and water hookups at each site. There is no sewer hook-up in Magnolia 2 or Hickory, but a dump station is provided. Each loop has its own hot shower and restroom, and they are all within easy walking distance of the spring. Pets are allowed and must remain on a six-foot leash at all times. The park also has 8.5 miles of nature trails and an 800-foot boardwalk.
Juniper Springs Recreation Area
Located smack dab in the middle of Ocala National Forest in Central Florida is Juniper Springs Recreation Area. Enjoy swimming in this hidden gem of fresh-water springs or go hiking along the Juniper Springs Nature Trail or sections of the Florida Trail. Because the forest surrounding Juniper Springs is very dense and jungle-like, visitors will often see wildlife that isn’t commonly seen elsewhere. This might include albino gray squirrels, otters, and American eels.
The campground of Juniper Springs has 79 shaded spaces, all within walking distance to the springs. There are no electrical, water, or sewer hookups. A dumping station is provided for vehicle holding tanks. Hot showers and flush toilets are available. Pets are allowed at the campsite and must remain on a six-foot leash at all times.
Collier-Seminole State Park
Nestled within the Everglades in South Florida is Collier-Seminole State Park. It’s within driving distance of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, the Big Cypress National Preserve, and Marco Island. At the park, visitors can enjoy cycling, canoeing, and hiking in one of the largest mangrove swamps in the world.
If you’re a birder, you will love Collier-Seminole State Park. Over 150 different species of birds have been spotted there! Other wildlife seen at the park includes Florida panthers, black bears, bobcats, gopher tortoises, and manatees. Additionally, the Everglades is the only place on Earth where both fresh and saltwater mix creating an ideal habitat for alligators and crocodiles to co-exist in the same area. Fortunately, you don’t have to sleep with them as you tuck yourself under the covers of your RV’s comfy bed.
There are 105 campsites, all with electricity, water, a grill, and a picnic table. The restrooms have hot showers, and there are laundry facilities available. A dump station is also available. Pets are allowed on the campground.
As you can see, there are many great opportunities for seeing wildlife while RVing in Florida. From birds to bears, we guarantee you’ll enjoy your time searching for these majestic creatures.
As always, remember to respect the land and animals by keeping a safe distance away and not littering. Also, remember that if you don’t have an RV of your own, you can always rent an RV on Outdoorsy. We hope you enjoy your wildlife-viewing adventure in Florida!