Torreya State Park is truly one of Florida’s hidden gems. This 13,000-acre park is rich with history, beautiful scenery, and plenty of trails for you to explore. The park itself is named after the critically-endangered Torreya tree. The Torreya, scientific name Torreya taxiflolia, is a relative of the yew tree named after John Torrey, a 19th-century botanist who became quite influential in his time. After being over-harvested for over two centuries, the Torrey tree was hit with a devastating blight that brought the species to the brink of extinction. Today, fewer than 1,000 individual trees remain, with over half residing in the state park. The park has an active program aimed at keeping the species alive and reproducing.
Torreya State Park also boasts a rich human history, with direct connections to both the Civil War and the Great Depression. About 200 Confederate soldiers were stationed at a small fortification on Torreya; its bluffs sit on a particularly defensible bend on the Apalachicola River, and the station was meant to ward off Union incursions. You can view some of the weapons used in the Civil War at the museum in the park. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps created the park and built infrastructure which can still be seen today. The park was founded to preserve the historical value of the area and to protect the Torreya trees.
The park has 30 sites for RV and tent camping and offers some of the best trails in Florida. Plenty of activities are available year-round for you to enjoy. Torreya State Park offers a birding trail, geocaching, picnic areas, and several tours each week where you can learn about the history and important plants of the area. With the Apalachicola River nearby, the park also offers plenty of opportunities to fish and swim. Torreya State Park has some of the most unique plant communities in Florida, many of which resemble forests found much farther north. The park's plateaus and bluffs are some of the most striking topological features in the area, and they offer spectacular views. See it all for yourself when you bring your RV here.
The park, which sits on the banks of the Apalachicola River on the Flordia panhandle, is open year-round and located in a rural area. It is 15 miles to the nearest town, Bristol, FL and one hour west of Tallahassee. While Torreya State Park may not be close to town, many visitors consider that one of its charms.
Torreya is just a few miles south of I-10, but once off I-10, you'll need to take smaller county roads to reach the park itself. Take your time while driving and follow the signs along the road to find the entrance. If you want to get groceries, gas, or other supplies, then it's a good idea to stock up before you arrive. The roads leading into the park and throughout are paved and easy to maneuver. Most of the sites are either sand, dirt, or gravel, which provides great drainage when it rains in the park (often).
Be sure to check the weather ahead of your arrival. Due to its proximity to the river and the heavy rainfall in the region, the park is often subject to flooding. In case of flooding, the park may close some or all operations for the safety of the campers. Check their website for park closings or call ahead of your visit to ensure that you are still able to keep your reservation. If you are arriving late, be sure to call ahead to get the code to the gate, just in case they close it before you make it to the entrance of the park.
Though the park's RV campsite is fairly small, spaces are large, and even large rigs shouldn't have too much trouble maneuvering into place. Most spots are back-in, so some patience may be required. Several small connector trails branch out from the RV campground, and these connect to the parks longer trails, meaning you don't have to do much, if any, driving to get a full view of the park.
There are small lots available at a few locations along the park's main road, and there's a larger lot at the Gregory Mansion. Since parking is limited at each of these, though, it's a good idea to leave the rig behind at the campground, if you can.
Torreya State Park offers 30 pet-friendly campsites for RV, tent, and trailer camping. Each site has water and electric hookups available. There are no sewer hookups, but a dump station is located near the park entrance, just a short drive from the campground. Sites one through 16 have 30-amp electric hookups and sites 17 through 30 have 50-amp hookups, so you can pick a site that has what you prefer.
The maximum trailer and RV length is 60 feet. All site pads are either dirt or sand and provide a lot of privacy, with barriers made of shrubs and trees. All the vegetation also provides plenty of shade to protect you from the heat of the sun since Pandhandle summers can be quite hot! Amenities include hot showers, restrooms, picnic tables, fire rings, and washers and dryers. You can stay up to 14 days at a time, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
There are no first-come, first-served campgrounds at this state park; however, unreserved spots at the main campground can be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are several private campgrounds within easy driving distance of the park. Most of these are just off of I-10, which itself passes just a few miles to the north of Torreya. Private campgrounds offer RV spaces and modern amenities, including electric hookups, showers, laundry services, and more. Many also offer cabins to stay in.
The park's campground also features two yurts. These tented, circular structures are surprisingly roomy and can fit up to five guests. Each has a queen bed and a bunk bed, plus several Adirondack chairs and a table for meals. Wooden decks adjoining the yurts offer the chance for sunbathing and bird watching.
The park yurts have electric heating, though they don't have their own restrooms. Campground restrooms are just a short walk away, however. Yurts, like other campsites, are reservable up to 11 months in advance. Parking space is limited at yurts, though, with no vehicles over 20 feet long allowed.
Torreya's main campground sports a cabin too! This charming abode has two bedrooms, five beds, a deck, a fire bit, and a grill. The roomy cabin is a great home base from which to explore Torreya and beyond. The cabin can be reserved up to 11 months in advance, and reservations are highly recommended during the busy spring-fall season.
Torreya also has some great options for those who are willing to rough it and sleep out under the stars. In addition to its main, RV-friendly campground, the park has three primitive camping areas with walk-in sites. Each campground is well forested, offering great shade and some protection from rain. Though primitive, these sites do still feature fire rings, benches, and vault toilets. Pre-cut firewood can also be purchased at the park store.
Geocaching is an activity that requires a device with GPS, a pen or a pencil, your own personal treasures to trade, and a sense of adventure. Torreya's extensive forests and bluffs, totaling over 13,000 acres, make the park a popular geocaching spot. Remember to write your name in the logbook when you find a cache, and maybe even snap a victory photo as well.
The plants and animals of the park are protected under state law, so be sure not to disturb them too much. Please also be mindful of your surroundings, and keep each cache site as tidy as you found it to keep the adventure alive. This is a fun-filled activity the whole family can enjoy during your RV trip to Florida.
Torreya State Park is home to a lot of history. Not only did it play an important role in the Civil War, but it also lays claim to the Gregory House, a plantation mansion built in the 1840s. The Gregory Plantation house originally belonged to Jason Gregory, but in the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps dismantled it, and moved it, in its entirety, from Ocheesee Landing to Torreya State Park, where it is located today.
The park offers a tour of the house, which not only provides background information on the area's history but also lets visitors see how people lived in the early 1800s. Tours occur several times a week and last a couple of hours. When planning a visit, remember that Torreya State Park is near a time-zone line! Lots of visitors have accidentally missed a tour because they had the wrong time.
Torreya's unique topography and flora make it a hotspot for avian diversity. The park is an ecological island of sorts, hosting many tree and shrub species that are typically found much farther north. There are over 100 species of birds that can be spotted in the park, so remember to bring your binoculars. A guide book or bird ID app isn't a bad idea either, especially if you're new to the area.
Some species call the park home year-round, while many others can only be seen for a couple of months out of the year as they migrate through. When you're near the river, be on the lookout for wading birds, such as little blue herons. You may also catch sight of an osprey circling overhead, looking for a fishy meal. When you're trekking through the woods, look for species such as red-headed and red-cockaded woodpeckers, golden-crowned kinglets, yellow-throated vireos or brown-headed nuthatches.
If your ready to hop out of the RV and get out on the water, the Apalachicola River offers plenty of water sports options. You can bring your canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. Find yourself transported centuries back as you float along banks lined with primeval forests. Watch for turtles sunning themselves on logs or herons flying overhead.
Remember to follow all rules and regulations when on the water. There are life jackets available, but visitors are also encouraged to bring their own. Always ask ahead of time whether the water is steady enough for paddling, as rain or storms can increase the Apalachicola's current, making it too unsafe.
Over 13,000 acres of thick forests and dramatic bluffs await visitors to Torreya State Park, and the best way to take them in is by hitting the trail. In total, the park boasts an impressive 16 miles of trails, so you'll have plenty to do even if you're staying several days. Routes here range from easy to strenuous, with water crossings and steep stretches present on some trails. Be sure to read about a trail before heading out, and make sure you're properly geared. Park rangers are also happy to answer questions about current trail conditions.
Several of the park's trails offer wonderful views from the bluff-line. Across the Apalachicola, a thick canopy of trees stretches, uninterrupted, for miles. Be sure to pack a snack or pick up lunch at the camp store if you plan on being on the trails all day. Finally, make sure to watch out for snakes on the path. There are a couple of dozen harmless species, but venomous cottonmouths and Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are also native to the area.
If you plan on going fishing in Torreya State Park, bring a rod that won't strain too much in the strong currents of the Apalachicola. Local anglers recommend using watermelon seeds as bait if the water is clear, while June bug or worms are preferable if the water is cloudy. Mudfish, sunshine, largemouth and stripped bass, bluegill, and sunfish are some of the rivers' most common catches.
You will need a valid Florida freshwater fishing license to fish, so remember to pack yours or order one online. If you want to take your boat out on the water to fish, the park sports a convenient boat ramp on the Apalachicola River. If you'd like to put in at a different spot, there are several others along the river nearby. Just ask the staff and they will let you know the nearest option.
The park also sits just about a half-hour south of Lake Seminole, a sizable and very popular fishing spot which straddles the Florida-Georgia line.