Camping Collier Seminole State Park in South Florida
Many of us camp to re-connect with nature. It’s our chance to return to our roots. We recently spoke with Darren from Collier Seminole State Park. He shared with us his favorite remote tent camping site, where the best places to venture with a canoe, and what to do outside of the park. Listen to our full interview here:
Collier Seminole State Park Camping
Camp Florida: Today we’re talking to Darren from Collier-Seminole State Park. How are you doing today?
Darren: I’m great.
CF: Perfect. Well, just wanted to ask you some questions on the Park. When was Collier State Park founded?
Darren: Well, it actually officially became a State Park in 1947.
CF: Cool. And do you know exactly how that came about or why it became a State Park?
Darren: Yes, it actually gets its name, Collier-Seminole, from two separate entities. Collier being Barron Collier, who was a successful businessman, who owned over a million acres of land here, in Southwest Florida, and Seminole being the Seminole Indians, who moved down here, to Southwest Florida, in the mid-1800s, after the third Seminole Indian War. And they brought their rich culture and history down to the area, and many of them continue living here today.
CF: Great. And so, when people are in the Park, what are probably the most popular activities?
Darren: Well, we offer several recreational activities. We offer canoeing. Actually, it’s roughly a 13-mile canoeing trail that goes to the Gulf, where the Ten Thousand Islands are, and it loops back around. We also have about 12 to 13 miles of actual hiking trails. One mile interpretive trail, three and a half mile biking trail, and a six and a half mile adventure trail. And there’s opportunities for wildlife viewing, picnicking. We have two primitive campsites, and we also have 120 campsites in the main part of the Park that we offer.
CF: Great, yeah, so certainly something for everyone to do. The canoe trip sounds like it would be a pretty good sightseeing adventure.
Darren: Yeah. Yes, most definitely. And probably, actually, one of the biggest attractions to our Park is the Bay City Walking Dredge. And that is actually the original walking dredge that was used to construct the Tamiami Trail, which is the roadway that sits right outside our Park and it goes through the heart of the Everglades, linking the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. It links Tampa to Miami, hence the name Tamiami Trail.
CF: Yeah, that’s awesome. So, where is Collier-Seminole State Park located?
Darren: Its physical address is a Naples address, but it’s roughly about ten miles East of the actual city boundaries.
Darren: But it still has a physical address of Naples, Florida.
CF: And so, if we were going to kind of venture out of the Park, what are some other attractions kind of in the area that are worth checking out?
Darren: There are tons of preservation, conservation areas. The Bay is actually really close by. It’s located just off of Collier Boulevard. There is Picayune Strands State Forest close by. Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park is about 15 miles from us, which is the largest State Park in the Park Service. I believe that Park is roughly about 80,000 acres. And then we also have the Everglades, Big Cypress, Ten Thousand Islands. There’s a lot of different opportunities that are available right outside our Park.
CF: Yeah, absolutely. And so, which one of those attractions is your favorite?
Darren: Which one is my favorite? Well, I’m still relatively new to the area, but I was pretty impressed Fakahatchee the first time I was there. It’s just a really cool Park. As you’re driving down 41, you’re going pretty much right through it, and it’s just absolutely beautiful. It kinds of gives you a taste of what Florida was like a 150 to 200 years ago, before any of the developed land, before any of the high rises, before any of the condos. It gives you a feel of this primitive wilderness. It’s just really appealing to a lot of people, I think.
CF: That’s great. And so, coming kind of back to the Park, what are the campsites like within the Park? Are they more open or secluded?
Darren: Well, the tent sites. We have 19 designated tent sites in the campground. They are pretty secluded. There’s vegetation pretty much in between each site, separating one site from another. All of our campsites – tent and RV sites – offer water and electric hook-ups. They all have a campfire pit and a picnic table. The RV sites are a little bit more out in the open, but it’s still really nice back there and shaded. We have two bath houses back there, a playground, and it’s just a really nice place to get away for the weekend if you feel like camping and experiencing the wilderness a little bit.
CF: Yeah, absolutely. That sounds like a lot of variety you have, so that’s always good.
CF: And two more questions for you. If you could only spend one hour in the Park, what would you do?
Darren: I would definitely go canoeing. I mean it’s probably one of our main recreational activity attractions. You have opportunities to view wildlife, such as alligators, a variety of fish, turtles, frogs, and things of that nature. And you probably will see that kind of stuff too. My first day working here, I actually saw an alligator while I was out on the boat,
CF: That takes you back a little bit.
CF: That’s great. And if you could spend just one night in Collier-Seminole State Park, which campsite would you choose and why?
Darren: Well, I’d probably choose the back. I’d probably choose the tent area. Site 19 is a really nice site. It’s secluded. You only have a person on one side of you, but you’re in a really secluded area and it’s just a really nice site, and it’s really shaded. But the tent areas are my favorite, so Sites 1 through 19.
CF: Absolutely, that’s great. Thank you so much for the insight. We really appreciate it.