Camping at Ft. Pickens

My family loves to camp when the weather cools down in the fall and when it begins to warm up in the spring.  We typically head east on our camping trips choosing Florida State Parks like Falling Waters or the Marianna Caverns.  We haven’t camped in the Pensacola area in almost six years.  A few weeks ago when we had that cold snap, we decided that it was going to be a great weekend for camping but we weren’t really interested in doing more than a night (we had a lot going on Friday so we just camped Saturday) and we didn’t want to drive 2h one way for one night of camping. 

I logged onto Reserve America, the website that many campsites use for booking, and we realized that many other people had the same idea!  Blackwater was booked up as well as several other camp sites in the area.  Ft. Pickens had many campsites available for walk up registration so we decided to give it a try.

The sun setting behind the trees at Ft. Pickens

Ft. Pickens has taken some heavy hits over the past years.  Hurricane Ivan damaged a lot of the roads and it didn’t reopen for a long time.  Now, you can still see the occasional oil spill cleanup crew on the beaches once you pass through the gates.  For awhile, the bathrooms were not open and camping was only primitive.  Since then the general store has reopened, the bathrooms are up and running, and there are plenty of campsites.  I would highly recommend camping at Ft. Pickens if camping is not your forte.  I never thought that I would be the camping type until my husband dragged me along with some of his friends.  It turns out that I had a wonderful time and I was sold!

Watching daddy get the fire going so we can cook dinner!

Things to Know Before You Go Camping at Ft. Pickens:

  • Take a drive through the campsite before you book  so that you can be choosy about your spot.  When you drive around, write down the numbers of the sites you are interested in booking.
  • While looking for a site be sure to look for the shaded areas, how close the site is to other sites, and how far the walk to the bathroom is.  If you have little ones, you will not want to hike to the bathroom at 2am. 
  • Pick up your firewood before you head to Ft. Pickens.  We bought our firewood at the general store but it must have gotten wet at some point.  All it did was smoke…no fire!
  • You will have to pay the Ft. Pickens entrance fee as well as the camping fee.
  • Be sure to check the rules of the campsite.  There are usually quiet hours, certain number of tents/cars at each site, and check-in and check-out times.

Campsite at Ft. Pickens

Don’t be afraid to give camping a try!  It can be an extremely rewarding family experience.  You don’t have to do primitive camping.  There are campsites with bathrooms and running water.  There are campsites that sit near the beach, in the woods or on a lake.  Ft. Pickens, for example, is near some of our favorite restaurants like Peg Leg Pete’s so you don’t even have to cook dinner if you don’t want to! 

Here are a few camping posts I enjoyed lately:

Camping With Kids: The “Somewhat Roughing It”

Camping Tips for Moms

3 Things I Learned Camping with My Kids (I pretty much love every article on Camping Blogger…explore the Kids & Camping tab)

25 Do’s and Don’t to Family Camping (Another great family camping resource–it is called The Family Campman! It has to be full of great info, right?!?)

If you do camp, do you have a favorite camping spot? 

Stop by Trekaroo Spotlight Thursdays!

Pensacola Family Vacation on raveable


  1. So far, we’ve only camped in the backyard. We’re hoping to make it to a “real” campsite in ’11. I especially appreciate the “Things to Know Before You Go” tips.

  2. Thanks for the shout out. I’m off to check out other posts for camping. We are hooked for family camping now. 🙂

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