Fort De Soto Park is amazing. It offers something for everyone whether you are there camping or simply for the day. The beaches are amazing with TONS and TONS of parking. Great cycling, paddling, walking, exploring, fishing, kiting, or anything you want to do. It can get busy in season but the area is designed to accommodate the crowds except for the one lane road to and from so plan your visit according to your threshold for traffic and crowds.
I'm a Florida local from Sarasota and have visited many times but never to camp. We came with a small travel trailer and were lucky enough to get a site right on the water as many are which by itself is rare. Great weekend and honestly one of the nicest parks I have ever been to.
Its great that possibly the most valuable real estate in all of Florida's Gulf Coast was reserved for a county park in lieu of private condos and resorts. The park has a no alcohol policy which honestly is fine. Being such an urban destination I could imagine things getting way out of hand there to the detriment of more chill folks without the ban. Even though I like a cocktail as much as the next guy, i'll take the pleasant environment over the beer any day.
Thanks Pinellas Parks for such a great place for locals and guests to visit.
I was a regular at Caladesi for 6 yrs,we liked it there cause we could visit and have get togethers in the evening ,eat, play games, sit by a nice fire . The last two years there were hell, starting with no clotheslines, put your wet towel and suits from the pool on your camper! Clothesline just encouraged people not to use HIS washer and dryers . ( so he said) Then no fires (what? It's a campground!) last year was just the worst, no flags to be flown in his ground. No walking around to visit with a open container, he drives around all hrs of the night like a prison guard watching was putting notes on good peoples doors evicting them cause he thinks they are too comfortable! He is a nut who will yell in the middle of the night and throw rocks at your camper if he doesn't want you there . This year more than half of the snow birds got out and moved to other places and I can tell you that they are all much happier, all the new places that we all found were very reasonable , he raised the rent and said another substantial raise was coming so what he quotes you can change by the time you get there . He will tell you that he does not care about any one so do as he says at that moment or hit the road,
The only good thing about this place is location. There are more great locations that are much better and cheaper. Chris, the crazy manager makes people uncomfortable and stalks them if he doesn’t like them. He was caught banging and throwing rocks at someone’s RV at 3am because he wanted her to leave. He has turned people’s water off if he thinks they use too much. He has trapped many pets on site and disposed of them if he doesn’t know who’s it is. He is a spiteful person who throws a fit if he doesn’t get his way. The park is old and most of it is falling apart. He rents out moldy, leaking and way out of code RVs. He chased out most of the full time RV owners because he wants people he can charge more for. I went through there the other day and it’s just as crappy as ever. It looks like he is allowing new full time people in there after he raised the rent. Don’t use water, clean your unit or car. Don’t use power tools to work on anything or he will yell and tell you it’s against the rules. They do and will change the rules day by day as he sees fit. It’s just better to go elsewhere to avoid the conflict. Chris does drugs, and has regular sellers in the park. Has an extensive police records and is know well by the police. His wife even told people that he assaulted her before. He supposed to be disabled (he has a disabled tag in his car) but it’s obvious he has no disability other than anger and he thinks he is the “King of Tarpon Springs) along with other thoughts of grandeur. We have had out RV and our property damaged by him or people he hired and he doesn’t care at all. He said it’s my problem. I can go on and on but you get the point. Stay away!
I typically avoid tent camping here in the summer months– early summer the trails are heavy with mosquitoes and summer rains bring a large amount of flooding. Though in the fall winter and spring this park is AMAZING. We were very lucky on this trip to have snagged spot at the high part of the riverside loop. Sites 20 and 21 typically stay dry enough for tents. Sites along the river side of loops are prone to flooding some holding as much as 4-6 inches of water.
This trip was a short overnight to get rid of some pent up cabin fever. We loaded up a tent and the bikes, praying for dry weather. The mosquitoes were not bad, almost none, the the river was near flood stage and inches from overflowing its bank near the campground.
The 2.5 mile loop from main entrance is perfect for biking, be careful near the pool area that is VERY crowded in the summer as many locals visit and it will reach capacity early in the day. You can rent bikes and canoes at the concession area near the stand if you did not bring your own. The grounds are beautifully kept, campground hosts are helpful, bathrooms clean and playground areas are plentiful. There are very nice pavilions and one air conditioned building available for rent for special events. If you are visiting in the summer call to make sure the site you booked is dry.
We did see where one person got his travel trailer stuck on the mud trying to get into his site. There are very few tent campers in the summer so be prepared if you are tent camping to hear neighbors a/c running all night.
I get products to test from time to time- today I am testing the INNO INH540 Bike Rack On first impression upon receiving– this is a heavy duty rack! Shipping weight is nearly 50lbs. and came fully assembled. This bike rack will fit both 1.25 and 2 inch receivers. We first tried to mount on my Jeep Liberty but we need to get a receiver extension as our spare tire prevented installation. So we mounted on our Dodge 1500 truck. I had to have my husband help me slip it into the receiver(was a bit awkward for me to do on my own).
I was very pleased to find the unit came with a hitch lock that was keyed the same as the cable lock for the bikes. Rack came with 2 keys so we each have a key on our ring and can access without looking for it.
The bars are adjustable and the rotating upper and lower cradles are well designed. The support bars also fold down when not in use. Another nice feature is locking pivot at base that will allow you to tilt the rack out of the way of tailgate to enable access without removing the entire rack.
The rack will hold 4 bikes up to 35 lbs each or a total of 140 lbs. We have mountain bikes with less space on crossbars of frame so was a bit tight to get loaded. Loading was much easier once we did it a couple times and got used to where we needed to place the cradles. Street bikes load with no issues,(we borrowed the neighbors bikes to test and to show off our new INNO bike rack– they were jealous)!
Order yours today from https://www.innoracks.com/ You will not be disappointed!
This is one of the best places to just chill in the water and swim through some caves. The river has a good mix of wild life and natural springs. You can see manatee easily here. The campground is quite and plenty to do there too. They have a play ground horse shoes, corn hole, and basketball at the front. There’s plenty of electric and primitive camping for your pleasure. The spaces accommodate a few tents and hammocks on each site. The bathrooms are clean and need a code so not everyone can use them. There is a local bar in walking distance down the street if you want to stay up and talk with the locals there is a 10pm quite time. That is the only downside because we were up hanging out late and were told to quite down by the owners or we’d be thrown out after we were drinking on the river all day. It was only 10:15 and barley anyone at the campground.
Fort De Soto is a beautiful campground. Many sites are right on the water. The sites are very well maintained and mostly separated from others by trees. The bathhouses are good. I absolutely love the general store, it has everything that you may need. I have camped here over 5 times and will certainly continue going.
My group goes to this campground several times a year due to the location to home and for being able to play off road in the surrounding trail system. We ride up on our adventure motorcycles, setup camp then go play all day on the trails. Once done retreat to camp and cool off in the waters of the mine pond. 13 campsites all spaced out nicely so you don’t have to be too close to neighbors unless you wish too. Definitely a fun place to stay.
This park is less than a five minute drive from me and for that reason alone, I've spent a lot of time there. Overall, the park needs a lot of TLC. The roads that are paved are in terrible shape as they are riddled with pot holes. During the rainy season, half of the park is closed off due to the road being flooded. I'm told you can access the other side form a nother entrance, but I've never found it and could never get good directions. There are some amenities available for peaople such as restrooms that are actually pretty decent, a park type are for kids, a gazibo that overlooks a lake, and picnic areas equipped with standard public grills. I have seen some grounds keepers keeping up the property, but aside from keeping it clean, which it is, they can't do much about pot holes or the closed of dangerous areas that get flooded. It has an archery range which is cool, but I believe its a bring your own equipment kind of affair, they don't rent gear out. I could be wrong, but that's what it appeared to be. I would recomend this place if you just want to grill out or generally be in nature for a few hours. Maybe they'll offer more in the future.
The title says it all. Large campground with plenty of shade trees. A little short on waterfront spaces and boat docking. The only downfall to the campground is most of the waterfront is rented out to permanent residents. Other than that the bathrooms and laundry area are kept nice and clean. They have a little bar and restaurant on the water along with a pool and playground for the kids.
Do not waste your time or money at this park. We arrived close to closing time for the office. We were assigned a lot for our rv. When we arrived at the lot and parked, we discovered someone had melted the 30 amp connection, so no power. The office was closed, so we had to call the emergency number. While the maintenance guy was very nice, it took him 3.5 hours to get the entire panel replaced while we sat in the sweltering heat with my 82 year old mother. At checkout, we told them what happened and they just said ok and could not have cared less. Find another place to spend your money!
Caladesi has boat in camp sites (i.e. you sleep on your boat.) It does not have tent camping sites.
If you can deal with that… It's a beautiful Island. One of the last undeveloped barrier islands in Florida. It's around 650 acres with tons of boardwalks and hiking.
We hiked extensively in this tract and used Mutual Mine campground as one of our stop-overs. Very nice, open, flat areas to pitch tents and close to hiking trails. Fire ring at each site, options to hang your hammock. Bathrooms but no showers. Free potable water. You can also pull in a trailer but this is not a full-commercial type campground. More a cross between that and primitive camping…….perfect for backpackers!!
Starkey Park campground is clean, rustic, and has lots of firewood for campers. There are many hiking, bike trails, and 2 playgrounds within mere steps of your tent or cabin.
I’ve camped here with my 4/5 year old boys and our Cub Scout pack.
The bathrooms are clean and easily accessible. There are also 3 primitive campsites available out on the trails.
We come down for a week in the summer to various places in FL and after a great experience last year, we gave this one a try again. Once again this rv park has been outstanding. It is pet friendly and everyone seems to clean up after their pets. The pool is clean and clear and that works for me. Also, the manager is always around greeting people and doing things around the park so the grounds are nice and tidy and the full time residents are friendly also. The grounds are decorated with native plants and there is one resident that checks and waters these plants/ flower beds daily to keep them looking nice. She does a great job and it makes the place look great. We can see them while walking to the ice cream shop right next door and it is nice. The restroom/shower house is ALWAYS clean. We don't always want to shower in our rv so this us important to us. It is located close to Honeymoon Island SP and has several local restaurants close by that give us that local atmosphere. This is a very pleasant place to be and when we leave we miss it and can't wait for our next stay! Ron& Gina from Locust Grove, GA
The lots have space. They are not on top of each other. The lots, bathrooms and laundry room are all kept clean and well stocked. I haven't met a single person here that wasn't friendly and or helpful. We first came here a year ago and I was worried about it being so close to a main road, but after staying here I can tell you that it's very quiet and relaxing. The pool is always clean and maintained and the beaches are only 5-10 minutes away. The bike trail is right behind the park and has beautiful scenery. There are so many good restaurants close by to try as well. My husband and I are looking forward to many future stays here!
I made my reservation on the website and received a call back confirmation within the same hour I reserved. The sites are spaced out far from each other which was great! I have travelled to a lot of parks That have sites right on top of one another. I was pleasantly surprised to have additional space from my neighboring travelers. The pool is nice and bathrooms are clean. The beach is a 5 minute drive and pet friendly! The Pinellas bike trail is also located right behind the park and easy to get on. I will definitely come back to this campground. It is Quiet with lots to do and has a friendly staff!
Spent one night here in March of 2019. Easy drive down a hard packed gravel road. Lots of shaded options to pitch a tent, facilities (showers) were clean and plenty (3-4 shower stalls). Our site had a fire ring with grate (not something you find everywhere), trees to hang a hammok, and flat spaces for tents. A very quiet spot with access to lots of hiking trails plus Silver Lake to go fishing. What more do you need?
This is a campground located in the swamp. That being said it's buggy, wet if raining. The restrooms are clean and modern. The river is the draw. Canoes and kayak rentals are available. There is also a fleet of fishing guides available. The river is spring fed shallow and beautiful.
This is one of the best parks anywhere. It’s not a National Park surrounding a national treasure but it might as well be. The park has three loops. All have waterfront sites and inner loop sites. One is set up for tents, folding campers and small teardrop style trailers. One is conducive to big rigs but it’s a tight fit and one handles all, but allows pets. There’s lots of wildlife, particularly raccoons. A short drive or bike ride from the campground lands you at the old fort, or a ferry to Egmont Key for the day, or a beach with a view of Tampa Bay and the Skyway bridge, or the amazing north beach which has been listed several times as the best beach in America. It’s a truly gorgeous park. Kayaking, SUP, dog parks, dog beach as well as coyote, rattlesnakes, amazing shore birding, white pelicans, eagles, ospreys, roseates, manatees, dolphins… hard to get reservations but well worth it.
Our return to this park year after year resulted in us building a home in the area for our endless summer adventures.
Its Christian so its little different but lady who take care of that camp is so nice and friendly. Cabins are males/females. RV sides and few tent sides. U have to call for booking. Camp side is right by the water really nice.
We love it! It’s close to us. Bring canoe or kayak and fishing pole. Pretty quiet although you can hear some traffic. Get up early in the morning and take walk and you are sure to see some deer. Restrooms are dated but clean. Firewood available for donation and 1-4 are walk up sites.
Campground Review: Fort Desoto
I camped with my family Fort Desoto – a Pinellas County park over memorial day 2019. While I’ve been to the beach at Fort Desoto may times over the years, this was my first time camping at the campground (my family who lives in Florida camps here every year).
I booked the site well in advance of the trip, and must have lucked out with a cancellation because I got a site on the water side in the camping loop over the holiday weekend. When I arrived I learned that some of the water side sites are actually against the mangroves, while others have an open view of the bay and are perfect for watching the sunset form your campground. Unfortunately, our site looked at the mangroves, not the sunset, but It was just a short walk to the open area. We were at site 40. If I were going again, I’d book even further in advance and aim to get a site in the lower 30s for the view. Residents can book further in advance.
All of the sites in the tent area are equipped with a picnic table and grill and an electrical hookup. There is a water point at each site.
When my sister showed up with her camping gear, I was surprised that they’d brought two giant fans to plug in – they are very experienced Florida campers. It kept the site cool, mosquitos away, and most importantly it blocked out the noise from the very large group celebrating at the site next to us.
There are lots of trees in each site, and we were easily able to hang up 3 hammocks. The view of the neighbors on each side was blocked about 80% which is great for a FL campground in my experience.
Fires are permitted, but you have to bring your own firepit if you want to build one. There is a small campstore on site, and a grocery and convenience store in Tierra Verde just a mile or so up the road outside the park (there is a toll bridge that you have to pass going in and out).
The campground is gated and locked after 9pm with a code. There is a limit to 2 cars per campsite. If you park outside of the campsite, there is a 5$ parking fee per car at Fort Desoto. You’ll need your camping pass in your car in order to drive down to the beach to park.
There were bathrooms and showers in the loop as well as a day use “house” with a fireplace and chairs and some books. Trash receptacles were a short walk away and we used them often to keep the trash out of the campground because the campground is notorious for racoons.
We brought out kayaks and fishing poles and spent most of the day in the water near the campsite. This is a no swimming area, however, so if you want to swim you have to head to the beach. There are lots of bike trails here as well if you’re camping with bikes.
Check out is at 11am and check in is at 1pm. This is strictly enforced. The office is at the entrance.
Product Review: The Rovr RollR 60 Quart Cooler
As a Ranger for The Dyrt I sometimes get to test and evaluate quality products from amazing sponsors. On this campgin trip, we put the Rovr Roller 60 cooler to the test. https://rovrproducts.com/product/505229344820/6841244385332
When I read about the Rovr cooler’s claim to keep things cold for up to 11 days, I decided that FL camping in Memorial Day temperatures of 95+ was the perfect place to give this cooler a real test. Plus my family in Florida runs a brewery, so I had access to an unlimited supply of beverages and ice for the experiment.
Three days before the camping trip I filled up the cooler with 55 cans and ice. The cans were from the warehouse (not cold) and the cooler had been driving around in the 100 degree car – so the cooler had some hard work to do in the beginning. After one day, the ice had melted, but the inside of the cooler and the drinks were cold. I emptied the water and then left in my car for 2 more days until the trip – the drinks were still cold. I added more ice before the camping trip. The cooler won’t keep your ice frozen for 11 days, but I can say for a fact it will keep your drinks cold for at least 5 or 6 (and cool for more beyond that– 7 das was all the time I had to experiment).
Capacity: I was able to easily fit 55 cans and 10 pounds of ice in the cooler without even trying to Tetris pack the Rovr.
Racoon Proof: We didn’t have any bears in Fort Desoto to test that it’s bear proof, but we did have raccoons. The cooler my family camped with at Fort Desoto the last time was destroyed by raccoons, but the Rovr wasn’t even bothered.
Durability: The cooler is really incredibly durable, we tested it by standing on it to hang the hammocks as high as possible in the trees.
Smooth: Despite its weight (see cons below), the Rovr is really smooth and easy to roll with it’s big wheels even when it’s full. We rolled it through parking lots, over beach, and through grass down a trail. The double handle is great – but full of cans, it was still easy to roll with just one person.
Responsive: In shipping my box got a bit banged up and the cooler arrived with one of its Velcro straps missing. I sent a quick email to support and they responded immediately with instructions on how to get a replacement through the product warranty. This could have easily been a con for a $400 cooler, but the customer service was great and fast and conveyed the attitude that they want me to love my Rovr.
Color: the cooler comes in several color choices including orange which is my favorite color. The top bin comes in white or can be upgraded to a printed color I like the way the white looks but it gets dirty pretty quickly)
Keeps things cool: The Rovr totally passed my extreme heat test and really did what a cooler is meant to do – keep things really cold.
Weight: Because the Rovr 60 is heavy duty, it’s also HEAVY. Without anything food or drink in it the cooler is heavy -- yet manageable. Full of beer, I could barely get the thing in and out of my car. If you fill it up, the average person will need to have help lifting it up. (Thankfully with the wheels, you don’t have to lift it often – just in and out of the car.)
Until you get used to the size and capacity it’s easy to overstuff – for me, this meant that the ice kept overflowing into the dry area where there is no drainage. This is more operator error than a negative about the product. If you don't need the capacity of the larger cooler, the 45 would be a good choice.
Extra Cost of Accessories: I love that this cooler has a lot of extra accessories that you can add on, but I didn’t opt to get any of them for the test since they’re all around 20-40$ a piece and I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the cooler. If you want the accessories, you can easily add another $100 on top of the $400 the cooler price. After testing the cooler I think that the cutting board or the bike pull accessories would be fun to have, but with the weight of the cooler already, I think I’ll skip adding anything to it for the future.
Overall, the Rovr is a really impressive cooler. It’s perfect for car camping, a short hike in camping trip, and day trips when you’re on the go – and it looks really fun as a bonus! The Rovr definitely passed the test. The next test for my Rovr is going to be flying back to Oregon with me (although my family in Florida is begging me to leave it here with them—at least until after their next camping trip).
There are 2 campsites available on this tract - Primitive site is accessible by car, back country by foot only. A free reservation is required for either and must be displayed or available - so make sure you take a copy with you.
Primitive Site - When you receive permit you will also receive a code to get through locked gate. Camp is just down road. These sites are heavily used during open hunting dates on this property. Once those dates have passed it is used typically by the locals for a close by adventure. At the campground the property boundary boarders a mobile home park which you will see on the approach road. There are no amenities except a port o let on site and sparse picnic tables. Make sure you bring bug repellent and keep food locked up.
Back-country Site - Again a no cost permit is required though you will not need a gate key. closest parking area is off Chancy road. It is about a 10 - 15 min hike from parking to site (in season wild blueberries along trail are wonderful). Cleared area is compact so will not hold a group of more than 5-6. There is a picnic table and fire pit. Make sure you bring bug repellent and keep food locked up.
There are 14 miles of trails to explore and you will have on foot access to the Hillsborough River. Where trail crosses river there is no bridge. Fishing and frogging allowed throughout year. Make sure you have your license with you! Hiking between the sites is a great way to see the property. There are many different ecosystems to enjoy and property is seasonally very wet.
The group camping site at Hillsborough River State Park is perfect for all scouting adventures. The group site can hold multiple troops at a time and is away from the regular tent and rv camping sites It typically is booked up on weekends 3-4 months in advance but during the weekdays is seldom used. Church groups and other not for profit organizations can book this space if the scouts have not - but they are given first opportunity according to park staff that I worked with.
There is plenty of wildlife in this part of the park, group camp is a short walk from rapids Trail and gift shop, canoe rentals and other concessions. Fishing along the river is hit or miss - and there are alligators so refrain from fishing with chicken or liver. There is a large fine for harassing a gator (or feeding them) and this is strictly monitored. If you get a gator on your fishing line you should call a ranger - do not just cut your line.
Bathrooms at the group site are something to be desired. They are are small, even tiny…and as old as the park. Just forget about the group camp shower… There are nicer facilities a short 10 min walk down the road near gift shop where you will also find a play ground.
Winter months are best- that is when mosquitoes are not too bad. June and July are nearly impossible to find relief from these insects.
I personally camped in a hammock and had a baby raccoon playing with my lines at night. YOU HAVE TO SECURE YOUR FOOD!
There are lots of picnic tables to have for seating and nice fire pits.
Colt Creek State Park is one of the newer parks in the Florida State Park System. We had the opportunity to camp at one of the handicap accessible sites recently and found it to be very convenient. Path and pad on site were roomy and fire pit was higher than usual for safety. These tent sites had water and electric as well. There are 2 of these sites available and both are easily accessed from handicap parking close by. Because this is a new er park the trees have not grown in well enough yet to provide adequate shade so be prepared for that. There is a lovely fishing doc with easy access and bathrooms are just wonderful. There is a paved trail as well as wide dirt trails to explore. This is a great place to visit. Camp hosts were wonderful as well.