Whether you’re a Florida native or just visiting, Hillsborough River State Park is a perfect destination. For natives, it’s a great place to get away from the life of the city and for RV visitors, it just might be the perfect place to stay if you want to discover Floridian nature without being too far from the city. That’s right, this park is only minutes away from Tampa, so you can easily experience both sides of Florida.
This park came about during the Great Depression, when the Civilian Conservation Corps stepped in to make new parks. Today you can still see the imprint that they left in the style of the park and its architecture. You’ll also get the chance to see the Fort Foster Historical Site and learn all about the history of this land. Here is where the Seminoles and US Military fought on many occasions, and today a reproduction of one of the original forts has been built for you to discover for yourself.
There are many opportunities for outdoor recreation including hiking, swimming, and canoeing. With a diverse ecosystem of pine flatwoods and floodplain swamps, this is a prime spot to check out native wildlife. There’s so much to see and explore here at Hillsborough River State Park and the best way to see it all is to bring your RV for a camping trip here.
RV Rentals in Hillsborough River State Park
Transportation in Hillsborough River State Park
Hillsborough River State Park is just minutes from Tampa, off of Highway 301, so it should be easy to get to the park. When driving your RV into the campground, you will encounter a one-way loop to get there. This one-way road is all paved and you shouldn’t have any issues driving your RV to your campsite. There are no other driving difficulties that you should come across within the park.
If you’re visiting with your RV for the day only, you can park at the main parking lot. You should have no trouble finding a spot to park it here. If you’re planning on staying overnight though, you may find it easier to set up at your campsite first, then head out with your smaller personal vehicle.
Campgrounds and parking in Hillsborough River State Park
Campsites in Hillsborough River State Park
Clearwater / Lake Tarpon KOA
Close to some of the best beaches in Florida, Clearwater/Lake Tarpon KOA, between Tarpon Springs and Clearwater, is the perfect place to stay when exploring the Tampa area. You can be sure to get the full tropical experience with multiple beaches, state parks, and nature preserves in the area. Tour a nearby museum or aquarium, or take in a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game. At Clearwater/Lake Tarpon KOA, go swimming at the pool, let the pups romp in the dog park, hang out at the pavilion, or even go golfing! Wi-Fi is available, and sites can accommodate rigs up to 65 feet.
The Campground at Hillsborough State Park
The campground at Hillsborough River State Park has everything you need for an amazing RV camping experience. There are 112 total sites that accommodate tents and RVs up to 50 feet in length. Each one of these sites has a picnic table, fire ring, and water available. Most of these sites also offer electric hookups. There is also a dump station within the campground that you can use. The campground is divided up into loops and each loop has restrooms, hot showers, and a laundry facility - all for your convenience. You’ll also be close to all kinds of fun activities in the park, including the swimming pool and picnic pavilions. Pets are welcome at the campsites, but they ask that you please keep them on a leash. There is even a designated area where you can walk your furry friend. If you'd like to set up a hammock outside when you go camping, there are six sites that allow this. Most sites offer full or partial shade. Reservations for any of the sites at this campground can be made up to 11 months in advance.
There are no first-come, first-served campgrounds at this state park.
If you’re looking for something a little more rustic, you can try out primitive camping. You’ll need to leave the RV and everything else behind and be prepared to hike over a mile before arriving at your campsite. You’ll also need to check in at the ranger station before heading out to your campsite. Do so at least one hour before sundown to ensure that you’ll have enough daylight to hike all the way and set up at your campsite. Water is crucial, so be sure to bring a gallon of water per person, per day in order to stay safe and hydrated in the Florida heat. Keep in mind also that these sites can flood at times, so check the weather conditions before heading out. This can be a great way to experience all that nature has to offer, but you definitely don’t want to do so without first being completely prepared.
Seasonal activities in Hillsborough River State Park
If you’ve brought your own kayak or canoe, you can take it out on the water yourself. If you can't fit a kayak or canoe in your rig, don't fret, since you can also rent them at the park. Paddling can be a great way to get out and enjoy the scenic views right on the water and you’ll also be getting a bit of an arm workout at the same time.
There’s no better way to spend the hot summer than at a pool where you can cool off in the water or work on your tan on the sidelines. Luckily, this park has a pool just for all of this. It’s half an acre in size and even ADA accessible. It also has plenty of space around it for you to set up at.
The Hillsborough River is a popular fishing spot, so feel free to bring your fishing supplies in your camper and settle in for the day. Be sure that you have your fishing license on you though, as this is required. Expect to catch lots of bass, catfish, and bream at the river.
This park is abundant with wildlife, and during your visit here, you’ll be sure to see some unique animals in the swamps or forest. You can bring your binoculars to help you out and get a closer look without disturbing the animals. You can find even more information on identified species in the park at the Ranger Station.
Touring Historic Sites
At this park, you can find a replica of a Second Seminole War Fort, Fort Foster. It’s the only one of these replicas in the United States and there is lots of history that you can learn from visiting it. The park offers tours of Fort Foster on every third Saturday during the summer months.
Playing at the Playground
A picnic is never quite complete without a playground for the kids. Luckily there are two playgrounds in the park - one near the pool picnic area and another one at the riverside picnic area. This can be a great way to let your kids run off some of that wild energy.
There are various picnic tables located throughout the park that you can use. If you have a bigger group though, you can also rent a covered picnic pavilion. There are seven picnic pavilions available by reservation. An interesting fact about them is that they were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Geocaching, the modern day version of a treasure hunt, requires that you use GPS coordinates to find the geocaches hidden all through the park. You can sharpen your geography skills while discovering different trails and open areas. See just how many geocaches you can obtain before you have to leave the park. This is a great way to get out of the camper and explore every corner of the park.
There are four hiking trails at this park and if you were to lay them out all together they would total just over seven miles. To get started you can pick up a trail map at the Ranger Station. Due to flooding from the river in the spring and summer, these trails are best hiked during the off-season.
The Wetlands Restoration Nature Trail, as well as the Park Loop, are perfect places to take your bike out for a fun ride. The first trail is just under two miles long, while the other is just over two miles long. Wearing a helmet is recommended for all bicyclists and required for anyone under 16.