Last updated on September 22nd, 2023 at 08:37 pm
We just spent 5 days at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in southeast Florida. The park, named after the leader of a group of Quakers who was shipwrecked near here, is set among a beautiful landscape of sand pine scrub and flatwoods, as well as river swamps. The Loxahatchee River, Florida’s first federally designated Wild and Scenic River, runs through the park.
Reservations and Check-In
The park gates close at sunset. If you plan to arrive late, please contact the park prior to 5 PM on the day of your arrival. Visitors may make reservations from one day up to eleven months in advance of their arrival date. As with all Florida State Parks, reservations are made online with Reserve America. We like this system because you can see the layout of the campground, review availability, and pick a specific site. We arrived on Labor Day weekend and the park was packed. However, by Tuesday there were plenty of empty spots.
There are two campgrounds at Jonathan Dickinson State Park: the newer, larger Pine Grove Campground, and the smaller, more natural River Campground.
Pine Grove Campground, with 90 full hook up sites with water, electric and sewer, is located near the Ranger Station. As you can see the gravel sites are all very large, and placed around 2 one-way loops. Each loop has two bathhouses with a washer and dryer. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring.
Here you can see the size of the site based on our 44’ fifth wheel.
4 miles away, near the Loxahatchee River, is the River Campground. It has 54 smaller sites with water and electric. As you can see here, even the one-way road through this campground is much tighter.
One of the great things about this park is the range of activities available. Over by the river there is a large picnic area with a playground. At the concessionaire you can rent bikes, boats, and kayaks to take out on the river. They also sell t-shirts, snacks, and have a food truck outside by the patio. The park also offers daily ranger led river tours on their boat that will take you to the 1930s pioneer homestead of Trapper Nelson. There’s even a swimming area along the river, but the alligator warning kept me from wading in.
For bicyclists, the park offers paved multi-use trails, as well as the Camp Murphy Off-road Bicycle Trail System which is a nine-mile network of mountain bike trails, with loops rated for beginners all the way to “black diamond, experts only.”
Finally, there’s plenty of hiking among the 3 scenic nature trails that wind through the park. And for another perspective take a walk up to Hobe Mountain, which at 86 feet above sea level is the highest point in southeast Florida.
Throughout the park, you can see remnants of Camp Murphy, which housed the Southern Signal Corps’ signal school during WWII. As many as 1,000 buildings were constructed and approximately 5,000 men were stationed here during a thirty-one-month period. Pilots from NAAS Witham at Stuart flew training missions over Camp Murphy to provide “targets” to the students learning to use the radar equipment. Due to the secretive nature of the base, they closed off portion of the Old Dixie Highway. Now you can hike or walk down the abandoned road.
Sadly we had to leave early due to Hurricane Irma. In an RV, a hurricane is nothing to play with, so we left early to avoid the traffic. You can read about our evacuation adventure here. We plan to return to enjoy more of the park as soon as we can!
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