We decided we would do a road trip today to check out the other 12 developed campgrounds in the Ocala National Forest. There are 14 developed campgrounds in this forest. We had previously checked out two of them; the Salt Springs Campground and the Alexander Springs Campground where we presently have a campsite.
We selected the Shanty Pond Campground to check out first, since it was close to Alexander Springs. The entrance road to the campground is three miles long, consisting of hard packed sand in the center and feathering out to a soft sand base toward the edges. It is a rough washboard type road. Our top speed on this road was 20 mph. The road is wide enough to accommodate two automobiles, but appears to be a challenge to accommodate two RV’s in some places. I believe a four-wheel drive vehicle would be required to navigate the soft sand base on the shoulders of this road. Fortunately, going in and coming out we did not encounter any RV’s, only one automobile in each direction. I am sure our Ford E150 Cargo Van would have gotten stuck if we were forced into the soft sand on the shoulder of the road.
Upon our arrival at the Shanty Pond campground we quickly determined it was not suitable for our camping lifestyle. The campsites were spread out, but had no surrounding scenic value. There are no hookups at this campground. There were a few large RV’s camped there. Those RV’s had to have taken a beating coming in on that washboard entrance road.
After checking out 10 more campgrounds, most of which were similar to Shanty Pond, we determined that Alexander Springs, Juniper Springs and Fore Lake are the only campgrounds that met our camping preferences.
Another camper at the Alexander Springs Campground provided us with a favorable report on the Clear Lake Campground near Umatilla, Florida. He had camped there before coming to Alexander Springs and stated it had a paved entrance road with paved campsite pads. This was the campground we did not get a chance to check out, so we will do that next year.
Tomorrow, another new adventure begins!