How To Book Competitive Florida Keys State Park Campgrounds

Reserving the limited RV sites available at the few State Parks that allow RV camping in the Florida Keys is a bit like an extreme sport.

There is high demand for these coveted campsites and booking one requires a lot of planning, a bit of luck, and enduring the stress of being at the whim of your computer and the Florida State Parks booking website.

As full-time RVers and Florida residents, we spend each winter in search of a warm and sunny destination to call home for a while. After a rather large learning curve navigating various competitive National Park and State Park campground booking windows, we have narrowed down the practice to a science.

While there is never any guarantee, our campground booking system has allowed us to book 4 consecutive weeks of camping in the Florida Keys (along with relatives who also scored 4 consecutive weeks with us using the same method), as well as many other RV sites at hard to reserve State Park and National Park campgrounds throughout our travels.

About Camping In The Florida Keys

Motorhome camping along the water at Bahia Honda State Park in Florida with the Old Bahia Honda Railroad Bridge in the background

Two of the most popular winter destinations for RVers are the deserts of the Southwest and Florida.

In the landscape of Florida, some of the places most synonymous with paradise are found in the small strip of land at the very southern tip of the state, the Florida Keys.

Unfortunately, there is a catch… camping in the Florida Keys can be extremely expensive (we are talking over $150/night for most private campgrounds) and more budget-friendly spots in State Parks are EXTREMELY difficult to come by.

So what do you do if you dream of a winter visit to the Florida Keys and don’t want to break the bank?

You get prepared, you plan ahead, and you hope to have a bit of luck on your side!

We want you to have the best RV and camping experiences, so we have compiled everything we learned to help make the planning and preparation phase for your own Florida Keys camping trip a breeze.

Let’s dive in!

State Parks With Camping The Florida Keys

Colorful fish swimming around a large coral display at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo Florida
John Pennekamp State Park has camping, beaches, snorkeling and diving trips, and even a small aquarium!

There are several State Parks in the Florida Keys offering white sand beaches, bright blue waters, and camping only steps from the water.

A complete list of Florida Keys State Parks with RV Camping:

  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
  • Curry Hammock State Park
  • Bahia Honda State Park

There are 3 main State Parks in the Florida Keys that offer larger sites perfect for RV stays. We spent 2 weeks at both Bahia Honda State Park and John Pennekcamp Coral Reef State Park and were able to work during the days and spend our evenings and weekends biking along the beach in the sunshine and snorkeling with marine life in the crystal clear waters.

Is there anything better than that!? We didn’t think so.

Note: There is also a military campground, Sigsbee RV Park, directly next to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West (for Military Use with ID Card, Active, National Guard, Reservists, Retired, DAV, DoD Civilians

So how exactly did we book these super competitive Florida State Park campsites?

The Keys To Booking Highly Competitive Florida State Park Campsites

A lime green tent set up in the shade of bushes along the bright blue waters at Bahia Honda State Park

If you have ever thought about booking a Florida State Park campground, you may have had the experience of going into the reservation system only to find that all sites are booked with no availability in sight.

Unfortunately, unless you get extremely lucky and happen upon a cancellation, to snag a spot at a Florida Keys State Park you will have to be online and ready to book sites the minute the reservation window opens.

The longer you want your stay to be (there is a 14-day maximum for any individual stay) the more difficult it may be to book. We highly encourage you to be flexible when thinking about your stay as you prepare to enter the reservation system.

Maybe you have to arrive on a Monday instead of a Sunday, move sites mid-stay, or leave 1 day earlier than you would like… this could be better than hoping something better will come along only to be left with no site at all.

Step By Step Instructions For Booking

An empty oceanfront camping spot with only a metal picnic table

As full-time RVers, we travel all around North America visiting the best National Parks, State Parks, and areas of natural beauty.

Throughout our 2.5 years of full-time RV travel, we’ve racked up many attempts at booking hard-to-reserve campgrounds in State Parks and National Parks. After lots of practice, we’ve developed a solid system that increases our odds of snagging these prime campsites.

Using these steps, we have successfully booked 2 week stays at places like Bahia Honda State Park and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in the Florida Keys. We’ve also booked two-week reservations inside popular national parks like Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and Gros Morne National Park and Terra Nova National Park in Newfoundland.

We weren’t always lucky enough to get exactly the dates or sites we wanted and sometimes did not get things on our first try. The key is to not give up!

With perseverance and flexibility, we do believe you can secure campsites at even the most popular and hard to reserve State Parks and National Parks!

The online booking platform for Florida State Park campgrounds

Here is exactly how we do it:

Step 1 ➡️ Go to the National Park or State Park website to find out the reservation window for the campgrounds you want to stay at. Keep in mind that for Florida State Parks this is 11 months out, and for many other State Parks and National Parks, this can be anywhere from 6 months or more out. Once you know the reservation windows, set some sort of reminder for the exact date the window opens for your desired stay (and the exact time that window opens) so that you will not forget.

Step 2 ➡️ Research specific campgrounds inside each State or National Park to see which campgrounds can accommodate your size RV. For help with big-picture trip planning, using a tool like RV Trip Wizard keeps things organized and well thought out.

Step 3 ➡️ Use campground photos and things like Campendium Reviews or a site like Campsite Photos to research different spots that can fit your RV. Write down a prioritized list of sites that you want to stay in. Don’t forget to consider things like potential obstructions for Starlink if you will be relying on that for connectivity during your stay!

Step 4 ➡️ Log in to your account about 30 minutes prior to the reservation window opening to make sure you are in the system and know which site or sites you are going after. If you are tag-teaming this with a partner or spouse make sure they are ready as well! It doesn’t hurt to rehearse what buttons you will need to click or what information you might have to input (RV information, plate numbers, credit card info) to secure your site. The quicker you are the better your chances!

Step 5 ➡️ Do one final refresh of the page in the seconds leading up to the opening of the reservation window to make sure you are active and ready to be let into the site for booking. Things can start acting funny during this time, so try to be patient.

Step 6 ➡️ Grab your site, remember to be flexible if you can, and get everything purchased before the time to hold the site in your cart expires.

Step 7 ➡️ Take a deep breath. You did it! And if you didn’t, try not to panic. The best thing you can do is get prepared for another go. Use the expert tips below to help you:

Expert Tips

  • Always make sure you have created a Florida State Parks and are logged in prior to the opening of the booking window. This prevents any snafus like losing your site due to being booted out of the system
  • Use a world clock for the most accurate time and be sure to refresh your page as the time approaches so that you can get into the system as soon as the booking window opens
  • Log into the reservation system the night before the booking window you are hoping to book. As people can book 14-day stays 11 months in advance, it is possible that many sites may not be available for the day you want to arrive. This allows you to see what sites are available that you will be able to choose from. With this, rank the sites you want to try to get so that you can spend less time scanning once the booking window opens. Remember, the key is to be AQAP… AS QUICK AS POSSIBLE!
  • Even if you do not get a site at first, don’t give up just yet. Stay in the reservation system for at least 30 minutes (or even a bit more). What happens is that sites will disappear once they are put into someone’s cart. This DOES NOT mean that the purchase will be completed. Whether people have technical issues, have a partner who also has a site in their cart, or decide ultimately they don’t want to go through with it, sites may become available again once the initial time to hold a site in your cart expires. If you are patient and ready you can pounce on those sites!
  • Use multiple computers and multiple accounts to increase your odds of getting a site.

Preparation and planning clearly go a long way. You’ve got this!

Important Changes For Florida Residents Starting in 2024

If you are a Florida resident, you are in luck!

With a new law passed in 2023, Florida residents will now have a big advantage when booking Florida State Park campgrounds.

Starting in January 2024, Florida residents will have campground booking preference over out-of-state visitors.

This means they have the first opportunity to book Florida State Park campsites and cabins, a full 30 days ahead of out-of-state residents.

Florida State Park camping reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance, with reservation windows opening at 8 am EST.

  • IMPORTANT: If you are a Florida Resident you will need to log into your Florida Parks account and provide additional proof of residency to register for this Florida Residence booking preference

READ MORE: Your Complete Guide To RV Camping In The Florida Keys (By RVers For RVers!)

Popular trips and excursions in the Florida Keys

A trip to Dry Tortugas National Park made our trip to the Florida Keys!

Key Largo

If you want to experience more marine life but are not too keen on getting into the water, a glass bottom boat tour is a fantastic way to get up close and personal with the colorful fish and coral reefs that can be found in the waters around the Florida Keys.

We had a great experience on the glass bottom boat tour directly from John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, but there are also other similar trips offered throughout the Keys.


Sitting towards the middle of the Florida Keys, Islamorada is known as the sportfishing capital of the world and is also known for its coral reefs.

Key West

There is plenty to do and see in Key West and it is a must-visit spot if you are visiting the Florida Keys. During the winter holiday season, the entire city is decked out in lights and decorations and there is always a spot to grab a drool-worthy bite or a drink along the waterfront. Pair that with a fun excursion and you can craft the perfect day trip!

Plan your best RV adventure yet:

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