Powerful hurricanes are one of the most destructive forces in nature. Ironically, however, a 1926 hurricane opened what would become Grayton Beach State Park to the rest of the world. In September of that year, the Great Miami Hurricane formed in the Atlantic, devastated much of the state, crossed into the Gulf of Mexico, and then barreled to the Florida panhandle. That storm flattened the sand dunes in this area, eventually making previously remote areas highly accessible.
Today, Grayton Beach State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Florida. The scenery and pristine beaches are almost unmatched. The state intentionally keeps the area small and cozy, so visitors also have a very intimate experience.
Beach and water activities are always on the agenda at Grayton Beach State Park. However, be sure you make time for hiking, birding, and some of the other activities that are waiting for you and your family to enjoy. Bring your RV to the campground and you'll have easy access to take in all in.
RV Rentals in Grayton Beach State Park
Transportation in Grayton Beach State Park
From Pensacola, take Highway 98 south. This road starts as the Pensacola Bay Bridge and then becomes the Gulf Breeze Parkway. It’s a very nice seaside drive, especially as you go through Okaloosa Island and Destin. Destin has a large Walmart and a number of good seafood places. When you reach Point Washington State Forest, go south on County Road 283, turn right on County Highway 30A, and take Main Park Road into the Park.
From Tallahassee, take State Highway 20 west past Blountstown, almost to Freeport. Just east of town, take U.S. 331 south. 331 goes across Jolly Bay and dead ends at U.S. 98. Go right on County Road 283, right again on County Highway 30A, and right again on Main Park Road.
Use 357 Main Park Rd., Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459 as a GPS address.
Ample large vehicle parking is available near most of the major trailheads and the beach. Beyond your campsite, these spots are probably where you’ll want to go, so you'll be all set.
Campgrounds and parking in Grayton Beach State Park
Campsites in Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach Campground
Fifty-nine water and electric hookup sites are available on the western shore of Western Lake. Some sites also have sewer hookups and four are wheelchair accessible. There is a 40-foot maximum RV length. Each site has a picnic table and grill and showers and other facilities are available. Sites are well-screened and cozy, just steps from the beach.
Thirty two-bedroom, duplex-style cabins are nestled in the pine woods on the western edge of the Park. Each one comes with two vehicle parking, a gas fireplace for use during the winter, a kitchen, and central heat and air conditioning. These cabins also include screened porches and outdoor gas grills.
Seasonal activities in Grayton Beach State Park
Western Lake Loop Trail
This 0.7-mile trail is flat, mostly paved, and stroller/wheelchair-friendly. The unpaved parts are a little hilly and sandy, but not difficult at all to traverse if you have good shoes and a sharp eye. The trail winds through and around pine trees and small lakes, so there are great birding opportunities here. Amenities include restrooms and parking.
Anglers may snag saltwater fish in the Gulf of Mexico or freshwater fish in the coastal dune lakes. These lakes are mostly shallow and mostly filled with freshwater, although some salinity trickles in from time to time. Western Lake has a boat ramp, and powered boats are allowed there. But as mentioned, the draft is pretty shallow, so bass boats may run aground. It’s probably best to stick with canoes and other unpowered craft. The bass and bream are plentiful in the lakes; the redfish aren’t bad either. The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance often holds surf fishing classes. Or, you can just watch other people do it. Surf fishing is different, but it’s not rocket science. Charter boats are available as well. Snapper and Mahi are plentiful in the summer.
Coastal Dune Lakes
Take a break from the sand and surf, and walk a short distance inland to Alligator Lake, Western Lake, or Little Redfish Lake. Coastal dune lakes are diverse ecosystems not found very many other places in the world. Several biospheres, such as sand dunes, depression marshes, seepage slopes, and wet flatwoods, all come together here.
An even better birding trail is the Western Loop Trail. The Flatwoods Trail is a 3.81-mile loop. Watch for many different kinds of water birds, wading birds, and lowland birds. Much of the Trail is paved; the unpaved parts are mostly firm and flat. Amenities on this wheelchair/stroller-friendly trail include a parking area and restroom facilities.
For the most part, the gentle yet relentless ocean surf made Grayton Beach what it is today. But other natural forces, such as wind pruning and salt spray, are at work as well. For example, take a closer look at some of those beach bushes. They are actually southern magnolia and slash pine trees, but only the tree tops are visible. Birds and wildlife, mostly shore birds and sea turtles, are abundant here as well. Threatened Choctawhatchee beach mice live on the dunes, so foot traffic is prohibited there. The temperature here in the summer isn’t much warmer than a place like Myrtle Beach. But you’re closer to the Equator here, so wear lots of sunscreen. Lifeguards are on duty during much of the summer.
Grayton Beach Hike & Bike Trail
This 4.2-mile mixed use trail begins near the Park entrance. It’s a paved trail which is quite scenic. Several available loops are available, like the Lake Loop Trail which basically follows the circumference of Western Lake. We recommend the 30A trail. It’s really pretty during off-peak months.
Sunrise & Sunset
One of the nice things about a south-facing beach is that visitors can enjoy both sunrises and sunsets. These events are especially nice in the winter. The night skies are usually very nice during winter as well. On moonless evenings, many celestial bodies are clearly visible even without a telescope.
To preserve the pristine quality of these beaches, picnicking is generally prohibited except in designated areas. Fortunately, Grayton Beach State Park has a number of these designated areas. Some are near the beach and some are further inland. So, you can select the kind of experience you want to go with your cold, burned, grilled hot dogs. Or maybe that just happens on our picnics.
Hobbit Hole Trail
Follow this trail to get a glimpse of all the best of the park on one trek. Start at the beach, cross the dunes, disappear under the oak canopy that gives this route its nickname, and emerge at Western Lake. If you had one shot to see everything, take this one.
A small beach campfire feels great on a cool winter evening. These fires are generally permissible, but you must provide your own wood. Save a s’more or two, or three, for us.