St. Joseph Peninsula State Park Campground (Cape San Blas, FL)
Prior to our trip, we did a lot of research on places we’d like to see for various reasons. Cape San Blas came up as an area where you can still see a clear night sky, one of very few left in the United States. You have to get pretty far outside of a metropolitan area to get to an area where you can start to get a view of the Milky Way, rather than just the brightest stars in the night sky. Cape San Blas in Florida is one of those places.
Then, our friend Jason strongly suggested we go to…Cape San Blas! He mentioned the great beaches and a raw bar nearby. So on the strength of his recommendation and the “clear night sky” classification, we decided to spend our final 4 camping nights on the first 6.5 week leg of our trip in Cape San Blas.
There are definite pros and cons about the location and whether you’ll enjoy your stay here depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for any kind of nightlife, city fun, restaurants, or a place to grab coffee and get online, you’ll be disappointed by this place. It’s 20-30 minutes from the nearest towns of Port St. Joe and Apalachicola, neither of which qualify as “the big city”. It’s a little over an hour from Panama City and Panama City Beach. So unless you plan to drive a lot, don’t go here expecting to spend much time in a city.
On the other hand, why would you go to Cape San Blas for city life? The beauty of this place is its seclusion from nearly everything. It’s this seclusion that provides the clear view of the night sky. You can practically reach out and touch the stars. There are so many stars that you have to be a pro to find the constellations (though I could never find constellations very well anyway).
Beyond the night sky, you’re also within a 30 minute drive of Tate’s Hell State Forest and Apalachicola National Forest, both of which feature some hiking. Inside Apalachicola National Forest is the site of Fort Gadsden. There’s actually no fort there anymore, but there’s some history to read about and it’s just a very secluded, quiet place right on the Apalachicola River.
Without driving, you can take the 13 mile round-trip walk out to the point of the peninsula. Or you can hop on a bike and take an 18-mile round-trip from the campground to the lighthouse at the southern tip of the peninsula. Basically, there’s plenty of outdoor activity around here, from long hikes or bike rides to a stroll across the boardwalk to the other campground.
Each site has nearby electric and water hookups. The water tastes good, so you don’t need to bring your own. The only thing it’s missing that some other campgrounds in Florida had is wi-fi and we survived just fine once we got over the initial withdrawal symptoms.
The bathrooms are really big! There are 3 or 4 stalls in each, plus 3 large showers in each. And the water runs hot and strong. Again, Edie was able to forgo turning the water all the way to full hot to take a shower.
The campground has a washer and dryer, though we didn’t use them. They’re pretty rusty and we weren’t sure we wanted to put our clothes in them. Plus they’re $2 per wash.
In stark contrast to Boyd’s Campground in Key West, Cape San Blas has really big campsites, especially if you’re tent camping. The nearby RVs pretty much filled their sites, but we had a ton of room to put up our tent, have a fire ring, and still be able to use the picnic table (plus back our truck all the way off the road) without feeling cramped. Most of the sites are surrounded on 3 sides by vegetation so you really have your own little area away from others.
It’s nice to be able to play some music knowing you aren’t disturbing others, as well as not being disturbed by other people.
A site with water and electric hookups goes for $24/night, the going rate for a similar setup most anywhere. But this is Florida and comes with great hookups and some of the nicest sites and bathrooms we’ve seen yet. Plus, you get to view the amazing night sky and walk around on beaches that are empty of people, at least at this time of year.