Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
Destin is not just known as one of the nicest locations in Florida, it is known as one of the nicest places in the world. The turquoise water is what makes it most appealing to the average person, but people who like to fish also know that Destin has the largest underwater population in the world. In other words, there are more fish here than anywhere else. Add seaside restaurants and local attractions and it’s the ideal vacation spot. However, there is one problem.
An RVer’s Advantage
Since Destin has so much to offer, it attracts a lot of tourists. This leads to Destin often being overcrowded, especially during vacation season. Fortunately, there is a way to enjoy Destin and the surrounding area while being completely away from civilization.
If you are familiar with RV camping, then you already know this routine. You laugh inside your head because you can enjoy a popular vacation destination at a fraction of the price and without any of the hassle. The same applies to Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park, which is located in Niceville—less than 30 minutes from Destin.
This 357-acre park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. If you plan on camping here and you won’t be arriving until after sunset, you can call the park for the gate combination and instructions. The park staff here is excellent and will be able to accommodate you.
The park is open every day of the year. It costs $5 per vehicle (2-8 passengers); $4 per single-occupancy vehicle; and $2 for extra passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Camping is $16 per night plus a non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. Compare that to the average hotel price of approximately $150 per night in Destin. Talk about value! The boat ramp fee is $5, and a pavilion rental is $75. The latter should be a non-factor if you are RV camping. You have your own type of pavilion.
The maximum RV length is 50 feet. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Electricity, water, laundry, and a vending machine are available. Dogs are allowed, but not on the beach, playground, or in park buildings. They must be kept on a leash with a maximum length of six feet. The bathhouse here is clean and has heat/air-conditioning.
The campsites are located near two of the trails, a playground, and the pavilion that overlooks the bayou, making it ideal for families. However, there are quiet sites as well. All campsites here are spacious, clean, and shaded. Some of them have water views. And you will always have access to a fire ring. The two picnic pavilions have barbecue grills.
Things to Do In The Park
There is a lot to do here, including bicycling (three miles of paved trails), boating (Rocky Bayou, Choctawhatchee Bay, Gulf of Mexico), paddling (bring your own kayak/canoe or rent one for the day), fishing (mullet, trout, flounder), geo-seeking, and hiking.
In regard to paddling, you can access Rocky Bayou or the freshwater stream. As a designated aqua reserve, you might see dolphins, otters, trumpeter swan, or a bad eagle. If you want your best shot to see dolphins, kayak near the bridge.
For hiking, the three trails are Red Cedar Trail (named for the Red Cedar tree), Sandpine Trail (along the shore of Puddin Head Stream), and Rocky Bayou Trail (along the shore of the bayou).
Outside the Park
Everyone knows about the fishing in Destin. What most of them don’t know about is the Crab Island Sandbar Adventure. This is a three-hour tour on a circular tiki-bar boat. You bring the beer and snacks; they bring the cooler and ice. While moving across the Gulf of Mexico (music included), you can kick back and enjoy the views. You might also stop on a sandbar where other boaters anchor and wade in the water with a beer in hand. It’s a great place to congregate, and it’s a unique experience.
Other activities nearby include dolphin watching tours on the Gulf of Mexico, miniature golf, golf, tennis, snorkeling, Destin Harbor Boardwalk, and Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park.
Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is a great stop for RVers thanks to cleanliness, nature, activities, and nearby attractions. If you are still not sold, the park has a 4.7 (of 5.0) rating on Google based on 390 reviews. That is incredibly strong.
For more information, visit the Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park webpage on floridastateparks.org or call 850.833.9144.