Senate bill gives Floridians first shot at state park reservations

fl state parks guard station
Presently, the Florida state parks reservation system opens up 11 months out from any given day in the future.

You live in Florida, less than an hour in any direction from great, award-winning state parks. You decide to make it an event, reserving campground space for the weekend or a few days off work. Then lo, it’s discovered — a third-party entity bought up all the reservations.

People don’t have to tussle with Ticketmaster to have their plans dashed by wonky reservation systems and exploited by others for financial gain. But for Florida state parks, change could be coming. 

Palm Harbor Republican Sen. Ed Hooper introduced a bill this week to do something about that.

“There’s a website where you can reserve your spot in our state parks, and there’s several companies that block up all the spots on the first minute of the first hour of the first day you can do it, and the folks that live in Florida get shut out,” Hooper said.

“This just gives Florida residents a little head start. If they want to reserve one, they can — I think they get a month advantage, which to me is fair. We all pay for these state parks, and they’re very inviting, but I just believe Florida residents should be able to secure a spot before they’re all scarfed up.”

Presently, the Florida state parks reservation system opens up 11 months out from any given day in the future. Senate Bill 76 gives Floridians that extra month, with availability beginning 12 months out.

A state resident who would like to take advantage of the month’s early access, should the bill pass, would have to confirm their status by providing a valid Florida driver’s license number or the identification number from a Florida ID card. The same ID would need to be shown at check-in to the campsite.

“Before I filed it, I talked with quite a few people who are Florida residents and were trying to get a campsite in a state park, and they found out that unless you’re sitting there at midnight on the day it opens up, you don’t have a chance,” Hooper said.

There’s not yet companion legislation on the House side for the proposal, but Hooper said he’s working to secure support in that chamber as well.

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:


  • Joyce Kanetzky

    December 17, 2022 at 11:00 am

    This is awesome, Floridians have been shut out of many State Parks reservations. Many of us have been advocating for this change to be made. The other issue is people making multiple campground reservations under the same not. Should not be allowed.

  • Peter Piper

    December 18, 2022 at 8:50 am

    It’s about time. I’ve been advocating this for years.

  • cathy neveu

    December 18, 2022 at 9:39 am

    Please pass this bill! I have spent numerous hours online waiting for the exact moment parks become available only to be shut out!
    We pay the majority of the taxes to support our State Parks, Floridians should receive the benefits!!

  • Peter Haggarty

    December 18, 2022 at 9:50 am

    That would be fantastic hope the bill passes, being retired I can plan 12 months out. For those not so lucky of being able to plan ahead, I would like to see that a small percentage of sites be held for FL residents up to say 2-3 months before, then released say 1-2 months before. This would give FL residents a little help.

  • Peter Haggarty

    December 18, 2022 at 3:44 pm

    That’s great hope it passes. Being retired i can plan out 11-12 months. I would like to see maybe 20% of sites held back, maybe for 2-3 months for FL residents who can’t plan that far ahead maybe release them a month before.

  • Terry Turner

    December 18, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    Like other Floridians I hope this pass. “No shows” to campsides should be penalized on refunds if not cancelled at least 48 hours in advance of arrival date.

    • Peter Haggarty

      December 18, 2022 at 4:35 pm

      I totally agree that there should be a penalty if not cancelled, not only monetary but locked out for 6 months or longer. I think it should be enforced come check in time the day following original arrival, as things can happen on the way there.

Comments are closed.


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