Free RV Camping in Florida – It Does Exist!
Wait a minute. Did you say "free RV camping in Florida?"
Yes, yes we did. And we're not talking about Walmart, Cabela's or Cracker Barrel. We're talking about free RV camping in an actual campground. With a bathroom. That has a shower. With hot water.
Where is this free RV camping in Florida?
We're talking about Dupuis Wildlife Management Area. You'll find the campground just to the east of Lake Okeechobee off of Kanner Highway.
We initially found Dupuis on AllStays.com. We were looking for somewhere to hang out after the Everglades and in the vague direction of Orlando since we had plans to go to Disney's Fort Wilderness for a few days to meet Kevin's brother and family. Dupuis fit the bill.
Just the Facts
- Name - Dupuis Wildlife Management Area
- Location - Gate 3 Equestrian Campground [PDF map]
- Website - sfwmd.gov
- Cost - Free, but special use license required. Apply here. You can stay up to 8 days in a row. Closed to camping during scheduled hunts.
- Amenities - Restrooms with showers and power, water, hiking, biking and horse trails. No hook-ups. It's a short drive to Lake Okeechobee
How to make reservations at Dupuis WMA Equestrian Campground
Now, when we first made reservations at Dupuis, you sent an email requesting your reservation and then you were sent back the gate code and a permit to print out and put in your window.
But between our first and second stay, they implemented an online reservation system. The website might tell you it's cool to just show the camp host your permit on your phone, but if you don't want him banging on your door, print it out and put it in your window anyway.
What's Dupuis WMA like?
Dupuis WMA is an equestrian campground which means people come camp with their horses. There are barns and pastures for the horses. And tons of horse trails. During the week it wasn't full but seemed to pack out during the weekends. One night, way too many tent campers showed up late and partied into the evening. But most of the time it was pretty chill.
There were no marked off sites as of February 2017 when we visited. Signs point equestrian campers to one area, but we ended up camping there both stays. It's a little chaotic. You'll probably have a better time getting situated if you arrive early in the week.
Our first stay, we were right under a Great Horned Owl nest, and they had a newborn baby in there! Every day we'd check on the baby's progress peering through binoculars at him. Such a cute fluffball!
There are bathrooms. The women's had a residential style shower stall. And yes, there was even hot water. And there were outlets if you wanted to dry your hair. There is water but no dump station.
There are plenty of trails for walking and biking. The fire roads are too sandy for walking or biking very far. While we did hike the trails a bit, to be honest, it's boring. The landscape is scrubby with some pine trees and palm trees. We saw some raccoon poop but nothing else of note. But I'm a bit biased because I like there to be a water feature on my hikes.
We didn't go over to Lake Okeechobee, but there's a trail that runs alongside it for walking or biking. We used our time at Dupuis to work while not distracted by too much other fun stuff.
Close to civilization, but not too close
Dupuis WMA is about 45 minutes from Stuart, Florida (we’ve written about vegan options there before) and about an hour from West Palm Beach. We visited each during our two stays there.
One evening, we headed over to Stuart with The Learning Banks for tacos at The Taco Shack. Vegan, gluten-free, no problem. We covered Taco Shack in the post linked above. The owner was a hoot and said some hilarious things that she probably doesn’t want to be repeated in a public forum.
Right by the Taco Shack is a kava bar called Island Root Kava Bar. Kava bars always yield interesting stories, and this one was no exception. The guy behind the bar grew up in the RV park in Pacifica where Taylor and Beth stayed. So there was much discussion about that. Also, the kava to drink that night was apparently the Wow. And the experience of enjoying this particular kava was called a “sick Wow sesh.” Mmmkay.
Kava is just relaxing. It’s similar to drinking an extra strength chamomile tea. Kratom messed up my sleep, so I avoid it now. But you may react differently. Seriously though, if you’ve never been to a kava bar, it’s something you need to do at least once. Even if you don’t drink kava, they’ll have other beverages, the people watching is superb.
Business in West Palm Beach
The keyboards on both of our MacBooks started sticking, so we took them to an Apple authorized repair shop in West Palm Beach. They had to send the computers off which meant we’d be making two visits to West Palm Beach.
The first visit, we went to the Grilled Cheese Gallery. It’s not a vegan restaurant, but they have vegan options. The Disco has tofu, marinated cucumber, kimchi, sriracha aioli, and vegan cheese. What a delicious combination! And the presentation is outstanding.
Then when we went back, we hit up the Veggie Love Truck. Pictured are the Pesto Grilled Cheese, the Dosarito (curry sweet potatoes, ginger cabbage salad, cilantro and coconut chutney, and cashew cream sauce wrapped in a dosa), and peanut butter cups. Everything is vegan, gluten-free, organic, and made to order!
We also tried Darbster, an all vegan restaurant, for dinner. We had kombucha, cashew mac and cheese, the black and blue burger, HOP cake sandwich, and I don’t remember what kind of cake this was for dessert.
In between, Disney World
In between our two stays at Dupuis, we spent a couple of days at Disney’s Fort Wilderness so we could meet up with Kevin’s brother’s family. Disney is super accommodating for special diets.
Before we even get to Disney though, let’s talk about Orlando. We made it a point to arrive in time to get brunch at Ethos Vegan Kitchen. Because it is amazing. Protip: if you get the skillet, get a side of gravy and dump it all over the top. You’re welcome.
Now, on to Disney. Trail’s End doesn’t seem like it would be vegan-friendly, but Chef TJ hooked us up! Instead of eating off of the buffet, he made us special dishes, and they just kept coming. So much food! And all of it was incredible.
Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Villas also had delicious vegan and gluten-free options. They even had vegan and gluten-free naan!
They even have vegan and gluten-free beignets! So we grabbed some just before we left. I mean, you’ve gotta try that! I promise, there was powdered sugar on it. This beignet might have been day old.
Danielle found these options on the Vegan Disney World blog. It’s a great place to start your research for vegan food at Disney.
It’ll be interesting to see if Dupuis continues to be an option for free RV camping in Florida. Their website doesn’t say anything about damage from Irma. I’d recommend calling before you make reservations online just in case it’s not a good idea to camp there right now.
About the Author
vegan. full-time traveler. rv dweller. food lover. cow petter.