After staying at Fort De Soto park, we motored across Florida (hello, cow pastures) back to the East coast of the state. I wanted to make a point to visit my best friend Jess, who I’ve known since elementary school. She moved to West Palm Beach 5 years ago, and I have come down to visit her multiple times since! Another perk of West Palm is a visit with my other high school friend Nicole, who has lived in West Palm for 7 years now. It’s funny to me that two friends from my small hometown ended up in the same city, a thousand miles from Pittsburgh.
From visiting Jess previously, I was no stranger to West Palm, but I was a stranger to RVing there. Some Google research later, Tim and I booked 8 nights at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, which in just north of West Palm Beach in Hobe Sound.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park has 2 campgrounds – one is at the entrance to the park. This is where we stayed. This campground is suited for big rigs – it has wide open sites, full hookups, but hardly any shade. You’d hate to be at this campground without an air conditioner to keep you cool! And this was in November! I read that most of the foliage was wiped out during a hurricane and was never replaced. The lack of shade + highway noise are the two downsides to the upper campground, but otherwise, we were very happy with it.
There is another campground along the Loxahatchee River, which sits (slightly) downhill about an 8 minute car ride from the upper campground. The camping cabins are also down at this campground, along with canoe/kayak rentals, bike rentals, boat rides, a little general store. There’s even a little pop-up drink shop that has a happy hour right alongside the river. So there is definitely a lot more going on at the lower campground. The sites are much closer together, and the biggest rig that would be comfortable in that campground would be about 25′. It seems best suited to tents and pop-ups.
To sum it up – the upper campground felt wide open and like you were in the middle of nowhere (except the big highway next to you). The lower campground felt like you were nestled in the woods and like you were actually in a state park. We were happy to have full hookups (after only having water/electric at Fort De Soto) and all the action at the river campground was a short car ride away, but it would have been nice if the distance between the two was bike-able (it was too long).
The Kimbell Nature Center
One huge benefit of this state park – the big, beautiful Nature Center on-site. The Nature Center was located down by the river. Some days we drove down there, other days we rode our bikes. Either way, Calla and I visited the Nature Center just about every day. It was very kid friendly (coloring activities, touch and feel exhibits, etc) but was also just plain interesting. I enjoyed learning about the wildlife and the river. The volunteers even let Calla touch one of the snakes!
I can’t write about Jonathan Dickinson without giving a shout out to Hobe Mountain! The mountain (or 86 foot sand hill, whichever you want to call it) is located in the middle of the park. Being from hilly Pennsylvania, Hobe Mountain gave us a good laugh, because it is so short. One of the first places we went to, Bickle Knob in Elkins, WV had an elevation of 4003′, so 86 feet is funny in comparison. But we did thoroughly enjoy hiking up to the top of the observation tower. Tim went multiple times with Calla, and I also took her multiple times, including one time with Jess! The sunsets were amazing, and you had a clear view of the whole park, the bay, and the ocean.
Jonathan Dickinson is a huge mountain biking destination. I had no idea until I saw all of the bikers in their gear constantly, and one day we were there, there was a mountain biking expo. Not only are there lots of mountain biking trails, there are also several paved trails for biking, running, or walking. All very well maintained. I did a lot of biking during my time at Jonathan Dickinson and I by no means covered them all. It really is a large park!
These trails also provide opportunities for wildlife viewing, whether you want to see it or not! I saw an alligator. I was all by myself, and I was kind of freaked out. I also saw a snake on the path when I was running.
Ok – camping, trails, the nature center, the river, Hobe Mountain – I think I covered everything there is to do at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Next post will be about other things we did in the Hobe Sound/Jupiter/Tequesta/West Palm Beach area! There was too much to fit into one post!