Highlands Hammock State Park

Over and over again it happens: we pick a random park along our route to stop and camp so we can break up a long drive to our next destination. Usually we’ve never heard of it before and we don’t even research it much since we’re only staying for one night. We’re looking for a place to sleep that isn’t too expensive and doesn’t take us too far off our intended route. And then we get there and it’s amazing! We wish we had planned to spend several days there to see and do more!

Highlands Hammock State Park in Florida was one of these places.

We were driving from the Orlando area to the Everglades and it was farther than we wanted to drive in one day. So we looked at the route on the map and picked a green area that was right along our route: Highlands Hammock State Park. We Googled it and they had a campground that was reasonably priced (about $20 per night) so we planned that to be our stop along the way.

Had we researched it further we would have learned that the hammock is a special ecosystem, renowned for biodiversity. We would have read about the daily tram tours they offer, the beautiful old growth hammock with thousand year old oak trees, and the wild citrus trees that thrive there. We would have – but we didn’t. We showed up with no idea what to expect.

After arriving late in the afternoon, we planned to set camp then go out to dinner for Staffan’s birthday. Soon after we had everything set up, it started raining. Hard. We’re so thankful that we managed to get set up first. It was the kind of downpour that could soak you just in the few feet between the door and the car. But when the birthday boy wants a burger at Five Guys, he gets one no matter the weather.

In the morning the skies had cleared and, if possible, the forest was an even brighter green from the rain. We decided to squeeze in a quick hike on a short trail before getting back on the road, and chose one of the old-growth areas to explore. It felt like walking through a rainforest, and there was no shortage of things to stimulate the senses and excite the imagination. We wished we could have stayed longer.

Jungle Boy! Look how thick and green the vegetation is!

 

highlands hammock state park

This time the game was native kids, raised by wild animals in the jungle. Watch out – they know how to defend themselves!

 

highlands hammock state park

A peaceful stroll. Love the smell of the forest after a rain!

 

Exploring every hollowed out tree, rotting stump and moss covered rock. There’s so much to see!

 

Highlands Hammock State Park was so much more than an overnight stop. It is truly a destination in itself. Add it to the list: Highlands Hammock. We’ll be back!

 

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