View Full Version : O'Leno State Park Campground (Florida)

11-09-2008, 01:41 PM
Our most recent adventure with "Bella" and the "Beast" took us to O'Leno State Park from Thursday, 30 October through Monday, 3 November. We "caravaned" with my parents and another couple both with their own 5ers from Umatilla to O'Leno on Thursday morning. (My parents and the other couple have been going to O'Leno annually for about five years as there is an annual square dance get together there the last weekend of October. We tagged along for the camping opportunity.)

The park has two tent/RV campground sites. We stayed at the one closest to the entrance. We found that the basic set up was quite nice...a one-way, counter clockwise "loop" with the sites on the left of the road; the restrooms/bathhouse is located in the center of the loop and there are individual paths from each site to the center of the loop for easy access and no one has to walk through anyone else's site to get there. HOWEVER, the sites can be a challenge to get into with 5ers longer than 30 feet. This is due, mainly to the fact that a number of large trees are right on the edge of the road on the right hand side and they are right were you want the TV to be when backing into the sites (there is only one pull through site in the whole park (#22 which is in the campsite closest to the river)). If the "powers that be" were willing/able to eliminate these trees setting up would be MUCH less stressful and potentially disasterous for all concerned the depth of the sites tend to be pretty generous, but the placement of a number of the fire rings don't make a lot of sense they wind up being VERY close to the end of the rigs to the point of not being usable (at least not safely)...they are almost in the center (from left to right) of the sites rather than to the side. THAT being said, the sites for the most part are relatively level and nice sized with nice spacing (and, in most cases trees) between each site. The camp hosts were wonderful people and very attentive/friendly/helpful to everyone. The restrooms/bathhouse building was kept VERY clean, but for some reason there were no washers/dryers there (the hookups were)...not that we needed them while we were there, just an observation for anyone that might go there. I never did check with the rangers as to if/when they would be installed. (I understand these buildings are a relatively new addition to the park.) The main road that takes you from the entrance to the main parking area by the river is paved and the roads to and around the campsites are dirt. It is obvious they are graded on a pretty frequent basis, but be prepared for a bit of "rock and roll" when you enter the campsite loop! The campsite closest to the river seemed to be a bit more "cramped for space" with regard to the loop road (there are trees on each side of the road that seem to get closer and closer together as you approach them (maybe it was because it was Halloween week), but they do (just) allow you to pass through with a rig (not for the faint of heart). Each site also has a picnic table. There is water and electric, but no sewer. There is a dump station in the park. (Note: You need to swing to the far left as you enter the loop of the dump station site so as to properly position the rig to use the dump station and exit without doing a bit of jocking around.)

The park rangers were all very nice and attentive and they REGULARLY patrolled the campsites throughout the time we were there.

There is a small museum, a nice playground, swimming area with a floating dock, a suspension bridge across the river and a number of very well maintained hiking and biking trails throughout the 6000 acres. The river actually goes underground for five miles (more or less) and resurfaces at another state park down the road from O'Leno. There is a nice trail that takes you to and around the basin where the river plunges down underground and a number of places where there are decks and benches to sit and enjoy the views of the river, along with the flora and fauna.

There are a number of other parks in the immediate area where you can canoe and tube down some of the various rivers and there is under water caves and springs all around.

If you stay at O'Leno and are interested in some sight seeing, Dudley Farm, now a state park is about 30 minutes away and offers a wonderful view of a Florida cracker farm that was established in the 1800s the last living family member (grand daughter of the original owner) past away a few years ago and the farm was deeded to the state to be used as a living museum. You can see all the actual buildings, furniture, etc in situ and there are volunteers that work the farm and provide a live view of how the farm worked pre-electricity. I highly recommend a visit! We spent about three hours there just wandering around and taking the self-guided tour of the place.

O'Leno is just north of Gainesville and is a few miles off of I-75. We have decided that this is a "do over" park for us and look forward to going there again.