Blackwater River State Park
Guide

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Introduction

The pristine waters of Blackwater River give this Florida state park its name. Although the water appears dark, due to tannins released in the water from the surrounding vegetation, the water is said to be some of the purest in the United States. Boaters and swimmers enjoy the striking contrast of the dark water against the white sand beaches and sandbars along the river.

When you take an RV adventure to this state park you will be in awe of the natural wonders all around you. The habitats created by these water conditions are diverse. Within Blackwater River State Park, you can find floodplain forest and swampland, oxbow lakes, and sandhill forest. Wild turkeys, river otters, and white-tailed deer all make their home in this unique nature preserve. You can even see the largest Atlantic white cedar that grows here, designated a Florida Champion Tree.

Besides aquatic activities, there are also great opportunities to hike and explore nature at this park. Trails pass through various types of flora and fauna and the Blackwater Loop Trail is part of the Florida Trail. Whether you enjoy getting out into the water and paddling, or you prefer to picnic closer to your RV, this state park has something for everyone to enjoy.

RV Rentals in Blackwater River State Park

Transportation in Blackwater River State Park

Driving

Blackwater River State Park is located within the larger Blackwater River State Forest. The park is located four miles north of Route 90, in between the cities of Milton and Holt, FL. The park is about a half-hour’s drive northwest from Pensacola in the Florida panhandle. The park is easy to access off of Deaton Bridge Road. There is a ranger station at the entrance, which is not always staffed. From there follow the road around to the campground loop.

The campground has 30 back-in campsites for RVs and tow vehicles. Visitors appreciate the level gravel surfaces and partial shade over the campsites. There are other various parking lots around the park to access the river and hiking trails. Some of the sites are tighter to get into than others, so consult the camp host if you have a longer rig and need help getting a suitable site.

This park is pretty easy to navigate around on foot, once you’re parked your rig. The swimming beach and boat launch are in walking distance. However, you’ll need to bike or drive if you want to reach destinations inside the surrounding state forest land. The ranger station can supply you with area maps.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Blackwater River State Park

Campsites in Blackwater River State Park

Reservations camping

Milton / Gulf Pines KOA

Whether you are looking for a great summer vacation, or are a snowbird looking for somewhere to escape the northern winter winds, Milton, Florida, is a great option. Embrace true Florida living with breathtaking nature sites to visit, easy access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, and tons of entertainment options. Milton/Gulf Pines KOA has pull-through sites for RVs up to 100 feet long to go along with solid amenities like Wi-Fi, cable TV, a pool, mini golf and many more ways to enhance your relaxing vacation to your preferences.

Blackwater River State Park Campground

The information here is for the campground at the Blackwater River State Park only. The state park campground is separate from other campgrounds that may be found within the larger Blackwater River State Forest.

Blackwater River State Park campground features 30 back-in campsites with full hookups for RVs. RVs and trailers up to 50 feet long can be accommodated. The sites are equipped with 30 or 50-amp electric hookups, as well as water and sewer hookups. Gravel sites with ample space and some shade make these sites preferable for RV campers.

Visitors appreciate the clean, well-maintained campground. The camp hosts are welcoming and pick up campsite trash in the evenings. There are no laundry facilities at this campground, but there is a bathhouse with hot showers at the campground loop. A dump station is located nearby. There is also a playground so your kids can occupy themselves while you set up your RV. Previous campers have mentioned that there is some noise pollution at the campground due to nearby military helicopter flight school. However, you're welcome to bring your pet with you at your campsite. Plus, you can relax under the shade of Magnolia trees and Atlantic white cedar.

The campground provides easy access to Blackwater River and its sandy beaches. There are picnic pavilions as well as uncovered picnic tables near the swimming beach. Bathrooms are also conveniently located near the swimming area.

Since the State Park is located inside the larger Blackwater River State Forest, there are many facilities and activities nearby. Please check with the State Forest Services to find out about other trails, programs, and features in the area. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.

First-come first-served

Blackwater River State Park

This campground will also accept campers on a first-come, first-served basis if there are any available sites. However, reservations are highly recommended. It's easy to plan ahead since reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Blackwater River State Park

In-Season

Hiking Trails

There are three main hiking trails in the park. Guided hikes and nature programs are offered in-season. The Chain of Lakes Nature Trail is a two-loop into a sandhill forest community. The Blackwater River Loop passes through the park and is part of the larger Florida Scenic Trail. The Juniper Creek Trail is a one-mile section of this trail that passes through the park, and makes a loop around the lake. The trail continues into the Blackwater River State Forest. This trail features great views of Juniper Lake and passes through floodplain swamp as well as pine flatwoods.

The nature trails include many opportunities to view wildlife such as white-tailed deer, bobcats, or wild turkeys. Birding enthusiasts will enjoy seeing hawks, Mississippi kites, and various types of woodpeckers. In the water, don’t be surprised to spot river otters or alligators.

Swimming

The swimming beach at Blackwater River State Park is a popular place. The refreshing water is nice after a hike on the nature trails, or just to cool off on a hot day. The clear, shallow waters and sandy beaches make it ideal for the whole family to enjoy. However, dogs are not allowed on the river beaches. You don't want to forget your swimsuit and sunscreen in your camper.

Paddling & Tubing

Part of the Florida Paddling Trail, the average depth of the Blackwater River is two and a half feet. The waters are so clear, you can easily see through to the sandy bottoms below. Blackwater Canoe Rental is a private company that offers rental boats and tubes, as well as transportation to campers who wish to float along the Blackwater River, starting at one location and ending back at the campground. There are many scenic places along the river to stop, swim, and have a picnic lunch during your RV trip.

Off-Season

Seeing the Florida Champion Tree

Atlantic white cedar trees dot the length of the Blackwater River in the park. One of these was recognized as the largest of its species in the state in 1982. It is named as one of Florida’s Champion Trees and is listed in the American Forests’ National Register of Big Trees.

Fishing

If you're into fishing you'll want to head out of the camper and straight towards the river. Blackwater River is stocked with fish by the Florida State Department. Striped bass and largemouth bass fishing are available at different times of the year. The lower river also supplies sport fish such as sunfish, seatrout, mullet, and redfish. Check with the fishing department for either freshwater, saltwater, or combination fishing licenses you will need.

Picnicking

There are many places to enjoy a picnic lunch with great views of the river. In addition to the picnic tables at each campsite, there are three covered pavilions with tables and grills with river access and bathrooms nearby. The pavilions may be reserved for groups. At the beach area, there are also uncovered picnic tables for guests to use while you cool off in the river. Spend the day hanging out by the water’s edge.

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