With one of America's most beautiful sweeps of beach and an all-round breath-taking scenery, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is considered one of the best natural parks in the United States. Named after its 25-foot sand dunes, the park offers a wide range of natural resources and recreational activities for visitors all year round.
Located in Walton County, Florida, the park has three miles of beautiful white sand, as well as unique plant and animal life. You can find three species of the carnivorous pitcher plant, the endangered Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse, Florida black bears, and a variety of bird species including egrets, hawks, and woodpeckers.
RVers will have an amazing time at this park, with spaces afforded to RV campers as well as an endless list of recreational activities available to visitors. The park has about 13 miles of trails with different surfaces, ranging from gravel and flat pavements to deep sand and rocky roads, for all kinds of sporting activities like biking, hiking, and horseback riding.
The park also protects a line of freshwater coastal lakes including Campbell Lake and Morris Lake. Boats are not allowed in these parts of the park, but fishing and picnicking are among the most popular activities here. Plus, visitors can also see remnants of World War II missile testing programs. With 156 RV sites, the park's campground is a prime destination for RV campers and should be at the top of your list as your next vacation destination.
Only five miles from Miramar Beach and just a half-hour from Panama City Beach, you are in a prime vacation spot in Florida’s Panhandle. Easily accessible with no particular restrictions placed on any vehicle, the park is located on West County Highway 30A, just 10 miles east of Destin. The town is popular with vacationers as well as locals, and here you can find Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park, as well as Henderson Beach State Park.
Once you get close to the park, the wide roads ensure easy entry and exit from the park. You can reach the park by taking I-10 to FL-85, FL-285, FL-87, or US-98, and it can be accessed through two main entrances off US-98. The western entrance leads directly to the beach access, while the eastern entrance leads to the northern shores of Lake Campbell. The unpaved road at the eastern entrance means it’s better accessed on four-wheeled vehicles.
The campgrounds are beautifully paved with smooth roads for easy transport. The beach is located about half a mile from the campground and because vehicular access is restricted at the beach, RVs and trailers have to be parked at the campground. The beach can only be accessed through the park's tram service or two-wheeled vehicles like motorcycles. However, visitors can also walk and ride horses to the beach.
The large campground at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is better accessed through the western entrance of the park. It features 156 pet-friendly RV sites with full hookups and a non-heated pool. You can cook indoors or outside on the provided campfire grill, and there is a large picnic table that seats eight. The sites can accommodate RVs up to 45 feet in length, although some are a bit smaller, so check the size limits when reserving your spot.
The campground also features digital cable, vending machines, hot showers, and laundry facilities. There is even a medical facility, restaurant, and golf course all within ten miles of the campground, with a nearby horse rental providing another means of transport to the beach for campers. The campground has a reservation window of 11 months and an early booking is advised, as the park remains sold out during most months of the year.
Out on Santa Rosa Beach at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, you can also choose what the park calls "fancy camps." These are luxury camping sites similar to glamping but even fancier. The two-layer tent is made of thick canvas with thick sides and a sturdy floor. Each tent has a queen bed with bedding including a thick comforter and fluffy pillows. There is even a seating area and night tables with lamps. And with rugs, lighting, and an air conditioner and heater, you may forget you are in a tent in the woods.
Outside your tent, you will have a campfire ring with a grill you can cook on, as well as a picnic table and table covering. Firewood is even provided, as well as water and electricity just in case you need to charge your phones or other electronics. If you brought the kids with you, the park provides pallets for the kids with a pillow, sleeping pad, and a sleeping bag. A camping stove is even provided. The only thing you have to bring is yourself and your food. Pets are welcome as long as you clean up after them, and reservations are needed.
There are also 32 cabins located in their own section of the park for those who want to stay indoors for a night or two. If you are just tired of sleeping in the RV or the weather is being difficult, check out one of the cabins available in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Located along Turpentine Trail just northeast of Campbell Lake, these unique bungalows are more like a fancy house than a cabin. Each one is completely different from the other, making them look more like a neighborhood than a campground.
With 16 one-bedroom cabins that sleep four and 16 two-bedroom cabins that sleep six, you are sure to find one to your liking. However, you need to reserve your spot online or by phone at least one day in advance. Also, if you have your furbaby with you, they cannot join in because no pets are allowed in the cabins. All cabins have full kitchens, bathrooms, cable television, bedding, and more.
There are various ways to tour the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in the off-season, with park staff offering different tours regularly for visitors to enjoy. There is a 90-minute ranger-guided paddle tour across Campbell Lake for visitors, as well as trail hikes to some of the park’s historic sites. These tours also act as an opportunity for tourists to see the park's unique plant life, as the park is home to a special collection of land and sea plants. The knowledge of the park's rangers will certainly add to the experience. The tours are taken through different park routes at uneven intervals. Details about future touring events can be found on the park's website and further inquiries can be made at the park store.
Art in The Park is a regular art-making event for visitors at the park. Classes are conducted at least once every couple of months, which gives visitors a chance to make their own art like basket weaving, watercolor painting, and molding. Each class has a different theme and technique and classes range between five to ten participants. Registration for classes can be done at the park's store or website. All materials needed are provided during the class, and participants must be at least 12 years old.
The beaches and vegetation of the park are not just attractive to people. The park also features some of the country’s most unique wildlife. Red-shouldered hawks and osprey can be seen patrolling the skies along the beach and egrets can also be found along Morris Lake. The park is home to the elusive and now endangered Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse. Florida black bears, plovers, and loggerhead turtles also reside here and have adapted to life in the various terrains across the park. Park rangers and field guides are put in place to escort visitors on wildlife viewing tours of the park to see these amazing animals in their natural habitat.
The beaches at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park are among the very best in the state. With three miles of clean white sand and clear blue water, swimming and relaxing at Santa Rosa Beach should be at the top of any visitor's to-do list. Park rangers and lifeguards provide swimming gear at the beach entrance for visitors of ages seven upwards. There is a pool at the campgrounds for visitors to enjoy and is highly recommended for kids, but walking down or taking a tram to the beach is a much more rewarding experience for adults as not only is the clear blue water attractive, but Santa Rosa beach is also home to about 12 different bird species and is a nature lover's perfect relaxation spot.
Fishing is one of the most popular sports along the beaches of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Campbell Lake is a fishing hotspot, with park rangers offering help on what type of baits to use and what kinds of fish you are most likely to catch depending on the time of year. The rangers also offer fishing gear and equipment to customers which is optional to use. Campbell Lake isn’t the only fishing hotspot, as the Morris Lake and Santa Rosa Beach are also good places to catch trout, panfish, Spanish mackerel, and catfish.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park offers a wide variety of hiking options to tourists. The Campbell Lake Trail and Beach Ram Trail are both straight, paved roads, making for easy walking or jogging sessions. Along Morris Lake Trail, hikers pass through ancient dunes and scrub communities, with more sand making it a more challenging hike. The Deer Track Trail takes visitors directly to Campbell Lake where some of the park’s most unique plant life grow including water lilies and carnivorous pitcher plants.