The Ocala National Forest is a gem for sight-seeing, recreation, and wildlife. The most southern national forest in the United States, it is more than 673 square miles of Florida scrub. It covers more than 383,000 acres.
Theodore Roosevelt protected the area in 1909. See the thick palmettos, pine forests, sandy scrubs, and impressive oak hammocks. Known as the “Big Scrub,” it is home to many endangered species.
Why Visit the Ocala National Forest?
See the thick palmettos, pine forests, sandy scrubs, and impressive oak hammocks. The natural area has 600 lakes and numerous rivers, springs, and streams. Ocala National Forest is home to bears, deers, manatees, turtles, fish, birds and so much more. There are amazing unique ecosystems that home wildlife.
Visit Ocala National Forest to experience the peace of mother nature. Getaway from it all in a piece of history. It’s only two hours away from Orlando yet it is a world apart from the hustle and bustle of crowded cities.
Photo by Celia Luna
There are a few visitors centers where you can get more information, talk to rangers, and see maps of the area. You can use the restrooms and get drinking water.
What to Do There
There are some private amenities as well as natural sights in the Ocala National Forest.
Any outdoor activity that you love doing, you can participate in here. Camping, mountain biking, hiking, and bird watching are all popular activities
Campground with electric hookups – great for running a small fan when van-camping in warm weather. Other activities include swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and boating.
Swimming, kayaking, tubing, and canoeing are popular activities in the area. Juniper Springs is a highlight, with trails you can explore. The kayak run spans seven miles. If you didn’t bring a canoe, you can rent one here.
If you’ve read Marjorie Rawlings The Yearling or seen the movie, you can explore the area that inspired it here. The Yearling trail is across the entrance of the Silver Glen Springs Park. You can choose either the 6-mile trek or the 3-mile loop. Here, there are historical remains and an informational kiosk that describes it.
Another great trail is the Saint Francis trail. It explores six Florida ecosystems, like swamps, oak hammocks, hardwoods, river floodplains, pine flatwoods and scrubs. It is a challenge but it is well maintained.
With a camper van, you can store all of your camping gear in a safe location. You don’t have to worry about bears or mountain lions sneaking up on you while you sleep. You can also pack up and drive to another part of the forest when you wake up.
Photo by Celia Luna
A camper van makes exploring the Ocala National Forest easy. Go from one spring to another and get the full experience!