Winter Camping in Florida: Hontoon Island State Park
Camping on Hontoon Island
Hontoon Island, located on the St. Johns River in Deland, Fl, is an exceptional park for camping. As the name suggests, the park is a small island and is accessible by boat only so while you cannot use the RV on this trip, you can get a boat slip and camp on your boat here. What makes this park exciting for the tent camper, is the limited number of camping sites and the fact that you cannot bring your car onto the island. There are only 12 tent sites on the entire park so you're fairly secluded compared to a lot of other parks.
Arriving at Hontoon Island
If you decide to camp at Hontoon Island, you must be mindful of the park's ferry schedule as it's your only way on and off the island if you're arriving by car. The ferry runs frequently between the island and the parking area, but it stops its service one hour before sunset. It's important to account for this if you're planning on arriving in the late afternoon or evening. Ferry services resumes at 8:00 am daily. Once you get to the island, one of the rangers will help you load your gear into the park van to drive you to your camp site. So, if you aren't a light packer, don't worry!
One of the most fun things to do at Hontoon Island is to circumnavigate the island via canoe or kayak. Initially, you'll have to paddle through the marina, but once you're past it, you're bound to see tons of birds and turtles. The island also offers bike rentals for the five miles of biking roads at the park. There is an excellent hiking trail that is three miles long and it's fun to try to find the old Indian mound. Fishing and picnicking are also popular activities at the park.
Bears in the Park?
The rangers love to comment on how there are black bears on the island as they help you bring your things to your camp site. If you ask them about specific incidents, they'll eventually admit it's only hearsay. The island is really too small to support a black bear population so it's very unlikely you'll encounter one on your camping trip. It is important, however, to exercise caution and keep food secured. Black bears are not the only wild animals that can be dangerous. The island is home to deer, raccoons, armadillos, alligators and countless other critters.