Florida is an amazing place to go camping. Plenty of springs, lakes, and beaches. These often come at a pretty high price, but we were able to find a free Florida Bayside camping location. That’s right!!
So forget about those of endless rows of 5th Wheels, Travel Trailers, and large Buses, you normally find at campgrounds. Imagine beautiful sunsets, quiet nights, and all for free!
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Bayside Campground at Escribano Point Wildlife Management Area
After a bit of searching, we found Bayside Campground (AKA Grassy Point). It is a free boondocking (or dry camping) campground located in the wilderness to the west of Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle.
It has just 12 campsites and a whole lot of wilderness.
How we Found it
We learned about this Boondocking spot through Freecampsites.net, a website where RVers and Campers post camping spots that they’ve found that are free, or at least very cheap.
Some require permits on state land, and some have water and restroom facilities, but some are as basic as a Cabela’s or Walmart parking lot.
Freecampsites.net only includes as much information as its users provide and is updated by members as they review a given campground.
Bayside Campground is free, but requires an online reservation at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
How to Get There
Getting to Bayside Campground is going to require you driving off paved highways. So know your rig before you start driving down the road.
The last 4 miles to the campground are on clay surfaces, with a few soft spots along the way, so enjoy the drive but you stay alert.
Stay on the road and do not turn off on any tracks that look iffy.
The last 3 or so miles on your GPS should look like the photo below.
If you do not see this picture on your GPS, DO NOT FOLLOW the GPS.
Look at the map and find the roads that look like the photo.
Also, don’t stray into Eglin Air Force Base property either.
Staying out is easy, just don’t open any fences, or cross into obviously labeled areas.
The Campground Layout
The campground has 12 campsites for tents, RVs, vans, and truck campers. There is one group site for tent campers.
When you arrive, you will come in from the South East. While the sites are well labeled, it can be a little tricky trying to find the right campsite that will fit your rig.
Campsites 1 through 8 are right on the water.
Your campsite at Bayside comes complete with a picnic table, and fire ring.
Beyond that, there are two porta-potties, one of which is wheelchair accessible, and bear-proof trash bins.
This a boondocking location so there is no freshwater, sewer, or electricity. There is also no place to dump your tanks (no dump station).
You have to bring in everything with you: Freshwater for drinking, cooking and/or bathing (if you’re into, you know, cleanliness), or better: Epic Wipes for cleaning yourself!
Be courteous with your generator and be sure to turn it off by 10 pm.
While I don’t recall it being posted, 10 pm is the typical start for quiet hours at all campgrounds we’ve been to. Don’t be a jerk.
Cell signal reception on our Verizon MiFi was fair at best, but it allowed us to get all our necessary work done.
Things To Do
Relax and hit the water! The temperature is perfect and the water is shallow making this a great place for families to enjoy the water.
The beach provides an easy launch platform for kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes.
There are miles of hiking trails in the area as well. Be sure to carry plenty of water with you as that hot Florida sun starts early and always be watchful for bears, snakes, and other wildlife.
Fishing is also a great option as the Florida Wildlife Commission works diligently to stock and maintain native fish in the area.
Blackwater Bay is huge and there are many inlets to explore that will keep you busy for hours.
Bayside is secluded so it is not a great launching off point for visiting Pensacola or nearby Navarre. Don’t expect to get back and forth to the city quickly so do not overschedule yourself.
With our take it easy pace, this wasn’t an issue.
We only went on two side trips in the 4 days we were there.
- One was to the National Naval Aviation Museum
- The other was to visit out friends Crazy Family Adventure who were staying at Gulf State Park Campground just over the border in coastal Alabama.
No Campground host & No Campground Office
There will not be any campground hosts coming around on golf carts to check on you and there is no campground office. You are basically on your own with other campers. So, it is up to you to follow camping etiquette.
Always clean up your campground, not just to be a good neighbor to other RVers and Campers, but also to the local wildlife. The campground does have trash cans, but if they are overflowing, please take it with you.
Since this campground does not have a sewer or a dump station, keep your grey and water in your RV. Do not dump any of it during your stay.
The local wildlife was very present on our visit with water snakes, bears, and raccoons nearby. Don’t feed them and always keep a safe distance.
The best recommendation we can give is to just enjoy the raw environment at Bayside, and watch the short video below as an example of what we chose to do.