Situated between Hobe Sound and Tequesta in Martin County, Florida, Jonathan Dickinson State Park is not your typical park. Boasting a wealth of historical significance, this state park is unique in its own way for coexisting as a historic site and a natural landscape at the same time. Named after Jonathan Dickinson, a Quaker merchant who died in a shipwreck near the park’s existing location in 1696, this park opened its doors to history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and adventurous RV campers in 1950.
The historical significance of the park is deeply rooted in the tales of Trapper Nelson, known as “The Wildman of the Loxahatchee.” An American hunter, trapper and zoo founder, Nelson Trapper established a homestead turned zoo near the shorelines of the Loxahatchee River. After dying mysteriously in 1968 in one of the park’s cabins, his legacy rendered the Jonathan District State Park an attractive tourist spot for mystery lovers. The park was also home to a secret radar training school during World War I, called Camp Murphy- the remnants of which can still be found at the park.
Boasting a diverse natural habitat, the park features over 10,000 acres of coastal sand hills, pine flatwoods, mangroves, upland lakes, and scrub forests. The largest state park in Southeast Florida, Jonathan Dickinson also exhibits the grandeur of the Loxahatchee River. Ideal for visits all year-round, this park is open every day of the week. A wide variety of recreational options are available like cycling, boating, birding, boat tours, fishing, swimming, picnicking, geocaching, and wildlife exploration. Also, fantastic RV camping facilities, including equestrian camping, add to the positive aspects of the park. The peak season to visit is November through April.
RV Rentals in Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Transportation in Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Jonathan Dickinson Park is located just 12 miles to the South of Stuart on U.S 1 Highway. The closest cities to Jonathan Dickinson are Hobe Sound and Tequesta. Starting in Hobe Sound, you can reach the park in just five miles. From Tequesta, it just takes 10 minutes on average to reach the park. From the West Palm Beach, you can get to the park in less than an hour. GPS, maps, and instructive signs provide easy navigation to the park.
There are a good number of parking options available all over the park. Just near the Ranger Station at the entrance of the park, a large parking lot is available and spacious enough for large RVs and trailers. Towed vehicle parking is also conveniently available. There are also parking lots near the campgrounds. Only two RVs per campsite are permitted. You shouldn’t have any problems with transportation or parking when you bring your RV to Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
Campgrounds and parking in Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Campsites in Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Pine Grove Campground
The Pine Grove Campground features 90 campsites near the Ranger Station. You can enjoy electric, water, and sewer hookups, as well as wireless internet access. A dump station and bath house is centrally located, featuring restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. After a long day enjoying outdoor recreation you can relax with a nice meal at your on-site picnic table and grill.
Most campsites offer gravel pads for easy parking. While most campsites do not provide shade, they are pet-friendly and quiet spacious. Plus, you'll have convenient access to a thrilling hiking trail nearby. You can make reservations from one day up to 11 months in advance. The maximum length for RVs and trailers is 40 feet.
The pet-friendly River Campground features 52 sites offering electric and water hookups. This is a beautiful campground with scenic views of the Loxahatchee River. Your campsite will have a picnic table and grill you can use. A bath house is centrally located, featuring showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities. A dump station is available for use at the Pine Grove Campground, which is just four miles away.
No matter what time of year you stay at this park you can enjoy all of its wonderful outdoor recreational opportunities like boating, hiking, and kayaking. You can make reservations from one day up to 11 months in advance. RVs and trailers up to 36 feet in length are permitted. 10 cabins are also available for rent close to the River Campground.
Equestrian and Primitive Camping
Equestrian Camping, for those wishing to camp with their horse, can rejoice, as five sites have been set up at the Equestrian Camp. You can also hike on your horse onto the eight-mile long trails starting at the Eagles View area. Two primitive camping sites have been set up for backpack campers along the Florida Trail. Extending five and nine miles into the trail, these camps are not pet-friendly. Three primitive group campsites, each accommodating up to 30 campers, are set up near the picnic area. These campsites are pet-friendly, but are not equipped with water hookups.
Some of the sites may be available on first-come, first-served at this state park.
Seasonal activities in Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Hitting the Beach
Winter is actually the peak season for visiting Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Rightfully called the “Sunshine State,” Florida experiences mild winters, so you can enjoy the beach under a warm sun and bright blue skies any time of year. Once you park your camper, there is a sandy beach on the Loxahatchee River, which is a prime spot for suntanning and beach lounging. Setting the right mood for an outdoor vacation, the Loxahatchee beach is the picture of outdoor perfection. The sandy shorelines and the pristine water will serve as a fancy background for your next vacation photos.
November through April is the peak season at the Jonathan Dickinson State Park, when large groups of people come to the park to spend quality leisure time. Enjoying an outdoor picnic is a perfect way to cheer you up during the winter. A picnic area can be found near the Loxahatchee River, overlooking its splashing waves and sandy surface. Four picnic pavilions are located here near the entry point, some of which are open for reservations. You'll also find easy access to two stunning hiking trails of the park.
Swimming in the pristine waters of River Loxahatchee can be a wonderful thing to do in the winter. For ardent lovers of swimming, winters are usually a gloomy time when you have to abandon this sport due to the bone chilling temperatures and freezing water, but not here. Situated next to the Loxahatchee picnic pavilion on the Loxahatchee River, this grassy swimming area is a swimmer’s absolute delight. A restroom equipped with a shower is located near the swimming area. Swimming is generally permitted all year long, so you can come enjoy it whenever you like.
Wildlife Viewing and Bird Watching
To a wildlife explorer's great delight, a huge variety of native creatures can be found in abundance at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. The diversity in species, ranging from deer to raccoons and foxes to otters, is mind blowing. Over 150 species of birds can be found here, making it bird watchers’ paradise. Between the railroad tracks and the Eagles View, you can feast your eyes with stunning views of the alligators at Gator Culvert. Threatened and endangered species of the park include Florida scrub-jays, Eastern indigo snakes, and gopher tortoises.
Taking Trapper Nelson Interpretive Tours
The Loxahatchee Queen III can take 60 passengers and Loxahatchee Queen II can hold 40 passengers on a ranger-led tour of the Trapper Nelson Zoo and the Loxahatchee River. The unsolved mystery of Trapper Nelson has given his zoo a bone chilling and suspenseful aura and people excitedly gather at the zoo to walk back to the era of fur trapping and hunting. The “Trapper’s Jungle Gardens and Wildlife Zoo” can only be accessed by either private boats and canoes or boat tours.
Want to immerse in a hiking experience that you will remember for a lifetime? Jonathan Dickinson’s hiking trails spread all over its 16 unique natural habitats and serve just the right purpose. Meant for both novices and experts, these hiking trails take you on a journey through the park where you can lose yourself in the park’s diverse ecosystem. Once you leave the camper you can feast your eyes on fresh and salt water lakes, rare scrub forests, and sandy hills. The East Loop Trail brings you closer to the flat pinewood forests of the park, whereas the Kitching Creek Loop showcases the beauty of Loxahatchee River. The Hobe Mountain Trail helps you steal glances from the top in all directions, as it is the highest point of the entire park. It is a short trail, but requires climbing a lot of stairs. However, the scenery from the top is worth giving it a shot. If you want to go the extra mile, you can head out onto the 10-mile Florida Trail between Lucky Tract and Kitching Creek.