Our recent camping trip took us to Rodman Campground in Palatka, Florida. It was about a 1.5 hour drive north for us. We have stayed at Salt Springs twice, and Rodman was just a bit further north off Route 19. Rodman is a Florida State Parks campground.
Rodman does not offer swimming so a November trip seemed perfect. It turned out to be pretty warm, but nice enough to take bike rides on the roads and trails. We also took a walk around the dam, which was nearby.
Our Campsite #44
We were planning a trip with some friends and booked a bit late to be side by side. In fact all I found left was site #44 and there was no picture online. It was a gamble, but turned out fine. They were in site #52 just down the road. Our site was quite spacious, with one big tree for shade in the afternoon.
The downside to this site is the fact that it contains electrical equipment in the form of a big box and standing power box right behind the picnic table and in front of the fire ring.
The power box gives off a slight hum, but nothing really annoying – just noticeable when all else is quiet. And this place is quiet!
About the Campground
This is a fairly small campground with one loop near the entrance labeled as Phase One with 13 sites, according to the map. Across from those sites is an area for “primitive camping” but that whole area was closed at the time. In the Phase One camping area is the boat launch and picnic table pavilions. It is a pretty area. I rode my (non electric) bike down and got a photo.
The launch is for small boats, with a warning for boaters to beware of hidden logs and debris in the water. I’m not crazy about being near fresh water here in Florida, but I think I would kayak here. My son says I’m crazy to consider it because of the gators. But, it all seemed very peaceful and perfect for a paddle.
Campsites That Are Not on the Canal
The back loop camping area, called Phase 2 on the map, is where we stayed. It is down the road from the park entrance, and makes a one-way loop that contains “upper level” sites and the sites along the canal. The canal sites are coveted, but the upper level sites are not too shabby either.
The photo below is the one way road (all roads are paved) that holds site numbers 40 – 58 on the section of the loop that is not near the canal. I got this information from the map given out at check in.
Most of these non-canal sites have big trees for shade and are quite spacious. There is a curb in some areas, and I am guessing it is to direct water flow for heavy rainstorms. You will have to back over this curb to get into some of the campsites.
Halfway down the road is a bath house (I did not go in) with two handicapped camping sites (beside and across), which are the only paved sites. All other sites are packed gravel and pretty level.
Our friends stayed in site #52 and it had a huge backyard area (photo below). All of these sites either backed up to a field or woods. On the inside of the loop was a hill and on the other side was the canal. The outer campsites had nature behind them.
I liked that there was plenty of space with many open areas where there were no sites. We were not crammed in. Also, the park was very clean and well kept. So far, we have been very happy staying at the Florida State Park campgrounds. (See my reviews of O’Leno and Hillsborough River.)
The Canal Road and Campsites
The canal road campsites are pretty sweet. Each site is angled so no one seems to be in the other campers business. There is also plenty of shade, and everyone has a view of the water. According to the map, there are ten sites here.
There are two chairs set up along the water’s edge and I would walk down here and sit to enjoy the water view. I saw a manatee on the far side.
One downside when camping in this area is no bath house access unless you either climb the steep hill, or walk all the way around. If your camper is self-contained, it’s perfect.
The whole road was full when we arrived on a Wednesday, but by Friday almost every camper had left. I’m sure the place would fill up by check in time, but we were leaving on Friday.
I enjoyed sitting by the water in the shade. Every now and then a boat would zip by, and I noticed a manatee on the far side after hearing him blow out his air to take a breath. The wide ripples from his tale moved slowly down the shoreline.
Things to Do at Rodman
A wide walking and biking trail runs alongside the canal. These trails are right off the canal road area of the loop in Phase Two, where we camped. I rode my bike down the trail for a while, but it was VERY bumpy from tree roots. The area seems to be mostly shaded and would be perfect for running or walking or riding a bike with great suspension!
The campground roads were where I mostly rode, going over to the boat ramp area and back. It is a short ride.
I did not do this, but riding to the dam is doable also. If you are a fresh water fisherman, the dam has a dock and other spots for fishing. Of course you could drive to the dam easily, which is what we did.
Our friends like this place for dirt bike riding. Beyond the dam, at the end of the road, there are dirt trails for ATVs.
Pros and Cons of Camping at Rodman
We would definitely return to Rodman Campground. I loved the quiet nature all around. It was a great place for bike riding – electric or not. It is an affordable location, and even more so if you get the senior citizen discount.
Although the water access is fresh water, with typical Florida critters such as alligators, a small boat or kayak would work perfectly for exploring. Use the ramp in the campground, or the one at the dam.
I have only one thing to list as a con. The biggie for me was that there was no internet access. Our friends had stayed before and were on the canal. They seemed to think that internet was better down there, but I don’t know. I have an online job and couldn’t do anything during our two day stay. Because of this, I would not be able to stay longer.
Also, a personal preference, is if I camp during the summer months, I like to have a place to swim and cool off. So, Rodman would be a winter camping location only – for me.