Cheap campsites nearby

Cori Santucci

When hearing talk of Spring Break plans, beach vacations or cruises are usually the first things that come to mind. While staying at a resort in Panama City Beach or taking a five-day boat ride to the Bahamas sound nothing less than fun, the average college student can’t afford to spend that much on a trip.

Camping, on the other hand, is a relatively inexpensive, fun way to escape from everyday life and bond with friends while also connecting with nature. One need not travel very far from Jacksonville to find natural gems that allow for adventures and great times without leading to texts from the bank alerting of bank accounts being overdrawn.

Dutton Island

Just around the corner from UNF in Atlantic Beach, Dutton Island State Park is the city’s largest park with over 9,000 feet of nature trails that are great for hiking. The park also has fishing piers, a canoe/kayak launch, and designated camping areas, so visitors never find themselves bored. The trails open up to scenic views of the intercoastal waterway, and oftentimes manatees and dolphins are spotted swimming just off the island! The park’s campsites are spread out and surrounded by trees so visitors have even more of a sense of escape.

“It’s a gorgeous park and very easily accessible,” sophomore Emily Jeffries said. “It’s a great place for kayaking.”

More information is available here, and camping reservations can be made by calling (904) 247-5828.

Mike Roess Gold Head State Park

Past Middleburg and Green Cove Springs only a mere 55 miles away lie Mike Roess Gold Head State Park, a common destination for avid campers and casual nature-lovers alike.

Developed by Civilian Conservation Commission in the 1930s, this park was developed on a 2,000-acre site and features marshes, lakes, and scrub that houses a variety of wildlife, including gopher tortoises and bobwhite quail. The park offers secluded campsites that allow tents, trailers, RVs, and pets. There are also cabins available for rent and primitive camping sites that include a fire pit, pavilion, and a picnic table, for those who still like to enjoy the finer things when camping.

With opportunities for swimming, kayaking, fishing, hiking and many more, this park is sure to have something for everybody looking to have a fun, relaxing spring break.

More information is available here, and camping reservations can be made by calling (352) 473-4701

Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park

Located in High Springs, Fl, approximately 100 miles from UNF (about an hour and 45-minute drive) this park features five springs, separated by hiking trails, that are open for swimming, tubing, kayaking, and canoeing. The springs are known for a large number of manatees that may even swim up to people in the water! The springs also run a quarter-mile away from the Sante Fe River, a popular fishing destination.

“The park had a wonderful campsite with easy to access to the springs! I would recommend this to anyone who wants to do a fun, inexpensive camping trip,” sophomore Delaney Kwatkosky said when asked about her experience at this park.

The park offers canoe, kayak and tube rentals as well as many campsites for tents and RVs.

More information is available here or by calling (386) 454-1369.

Gemini Springs Park

Gemini Springs Park is located in DeBary, Fl, approximately 120 miles away from UNF. This gem has a three-quarter of a mile long hiking trail and a mile long bike trail. The two springs this park holds aren’t available for swimming, yet still completely breathtaking sights. Campsites include picnic tables, a fire pit, a lantern-holding pole, and groomed sand. Rails are placed around the water to protect people and wildlife from a dangerous interaction.

More information is available here or by calling (386-736-5953)

Ginnie Springs

About 100 miles away in High Ridge, FL lies Ginnie Springs, a picturesque park, and campsite known for its sparkling clear water that is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, tubing and cave diving. The park offers rentals of everything one could think of to have a good time, including full scuba and snorkeling gear. The campsites are divided by tent size, and there are options available for groups as small as two or as large as 10. Trails connect the springs and the campsites and offer a nice place for light hiking and sightseeing as well. This park is a popular destination for events, so often it is crowded, but the amount of guests doesn’t take away from the natural beauty.  

More information is available here or by calling (386) 454-7188.