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Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

jonathan dickinson state park and river roaming with the tillerys on the suntracker bass buggy
Here's our overall ranking. To learn more, read on.

With Covid still plaguing every country and the beautiful state of Florida, the school year here was pushed back by two weeks in our county. Though we already had the trip planned, it was pretty cool that it ended up being the weekend just before school started and we were able to bring a buddy. Since we had another set of helping hands, setup and break down went faster than normal though we did miss have our pooch, Nemo in tow.

One of the reasons we were most excited to visit this park, was to see Trapper Nelson's Jungle Garden and homestead. After our son, Charlie, completed the epic novel A Land Remembered, we felt it imperative to see a true Florida cracker property up close. Though, that was to take place on Saturday. So, before we could venture on the river we had some work to do. The campsite itself wasn't my favorite. Though we were happy with our site in general, this park had many sites with little to no shade and fully exposed. Additionally, they were all super close together. This park did have some cool looking cabins available that had their own area and another campsite designed for rv's toward the park's entrance. Might be something to consider? Overall, it wasn't bad just not as private as we have been fortunate to experience at other parks. Good news, the bathhouses were in good shape. Also, the electric and water worked well at the site so we whipped up some slushies and allowed the boys to do some fishing while we put the final touches on our weekend's glamping setup.

Charlie and Dylan Fishing After Setup

Our first evening was certainly exciting. The boys accidentally snagged a teenage size gator and had to bring him up to undo the hook; oh the rush! I mean, where does one set her cup down to ensure it's safe as the gator's tail slashes about? Good news, he was unhooked quickly and went right back into the water and swam about freely...we all breathed easier after that. Then it was off to Hobe Mountain. Close to the front of the park, easily a couple miles from our lower campground location, it was cooling off and we had the windows down and the boys in back. Once there, we enjoyed the short 10 minute walk up to the top and took in the views of the entire park, the Intercoastal and the Atlantic Ocean; epic!

Views from the top of Hobe Mountain

Back at the campsite, we enjoyed a delicious meal of our fire roasted hot dogs and yummy triple pepper pasta salad and tuna pasta salad. At night, the campground was way cooler than during the day with the glow of everyone's campfires and different genres of music playing. Though the boys went to bed early, in preparation of a day full of sun and fishing to follow, Michael and I stayed up late enjoying the fresh air, fire and chill music. That night, we all slept incredibly well.

Next morning, we were up and ready to roll by 8:30. After a quick breakfast of toasted English muffins with peanut butter and coffee or juice, the River Roamer was ready to be launched. Truthfully, it was a perfect time to leave the dock which was just a 2 minute drive from the campsite. Better still, from the boat dock to the site, there is a short trail for walking so when we realized we forgot to shut off our air conditioners, it was easy to send Charlie up.He was there in back in less than 5 minutes; ideal. Anyhow, the boat ramp is newer but quite steep. The dock itself is pretty big with lots of room for at least 3 boats. We heard, you can even allow your smaller boats to stay there for the evening if you are going back out early in the morning. There are even steps there that allow for ease of use with the cast net; super sweet setup. So, by 8:45 we were off and enjoying the subtle breeze as we began west on the Loxahatchee River towards Trapper Nelson's.

Our advice, when you think you should be there already to Trapper Nelson's oasis. Just keep going, follow each river bend with caution and about 1 hour later you will arrive. It was quite the site folks! A metal shack to shield your watercraft from the sun greets you and allows for ease of tying off to explore. Once on the property there are several structures that capture your eye and pulls you in different directions. From the handmade cages where he kept wild animals to showcase as his homestead evolved into a zoo and entertainment destination in the 50's to his home and vintage jeep; it was impressive to see. To think, someone lived off the land and later went on to make it a profitable business before dying in 1968. Seeing Trapper Nelson's Jungle Garden and Zoo was a real highlight for all of us.

From there we went back east on the Loxahatchee River, making friends with fellow boaters along the way assuring them that Trapper Nelson's was still ahead. As we passed the state park, the river changed from wild and roaming to residential and luxurious. Once we got to the intercoastal, the rush of blue water from the Jupiter Inlet changed the color of the water and as we neared the inlet, the water became as blue and clear as the Caribbean. To think a river can take you from fresh and murky to clear and blue in just the span of an hour or two; wow!

While in the Inlet we enjoyed Italian sliders, fresh watermelon and chips while using our floats. The boys throw the football around and walked along the edge of an estuary we found; water shoes for such an activity is a must. Though beautiful, there was a lot of boat traffic that caused some significant wake so after an hour or so we decided to start our journey back and to stop and fish under the bridge in the process. As we headed back, we watched teens jump from the bridge into the water, Charlie was intrigued but this mama said no. Not sure it's even really allowed but hats off to the young people who enjoy the thrill. While fishing under the bridge, there were lots of bites and lots of wake with boats coming from all directions at pretty good speed near the lighthouse. A kayaker in his late 20's tried to venture across but capsized in the rough waves created by the boats. Our son, a strong swimmer, jumped off to help him since our boat was tied to the bridge's leg and were not able to respond quick enough. Talk about adventure! Thankfully, another boat was able to get them out of the water and the man was able to get up from under his kayak with Charlie's quick thinking. Intense is an understatement. Lesson here, don't kayak into that busy intersection; not wise at all.

We continued to mosey back, pulling off a couple times to do a bit of fishing. Not many bites so we continued into the murky waters of the river once more when finally our friend, Dylan, caught his first fish of the trip. At the dock, the boys continued to fish for a bit while dad cleanup up the boat and got it back on the secured. Who'd of thought? But, they caught another gator in the dark waters. This was more of a baby and was easier to get off the hook; it was very exciting for the others boats to see. Thus our grand total of the trip to one teenage gator, one smaller gator, a mudfish and two catfish; not half bad.

Once back at our glampin' site, it felt great to get cleaned up and have some time in front of the fan. We played a fun game of Yahtzee and slow cooked some country style ribs. If you are wondering...yes, we use a whole bottle of barbecue sauce in the process. Served alongside our pre--made side salads; it hit the spot. That night, we had a wonderful fire, roasted marshmallows and sat around sharing stories about what middle school would be like as the kids were to start school in just two days. Even had some fellow campers, on a decked out golf cart, stop to compliment our entire setup; always nice to hear. People are really so nice while camping. That night, a slight rain came through just past midnight that helped lull us all to sleep; it was a terrific day.

Bright and early we were up. With the coffee brewing, it was nice to see and hear the peacefulness of the river just behind the brush. The boys enjoyed cereal and left over smoked ribs for breakfast, can't make that up folks...and then we got to task breaking down camp. With that extra set of hands, we were done in an hour and half. It was quite nice working in unison and having a steady morning breeze; we don't always get a breeze. Anyhow, we all cleanup and changed prior to heading north on US1 for our pizza experience.

Supreme Pizza in south Stuart opened at 12pm on Sunday. We just so happened to be pulling by their restaurant at exactly 11:55am. So, we parked on a residential side street just a few blocks north that had lots of space for us to pull up. From there, we used the fresh sidewalk to stroll the couple of blocks to their location. The parking lot, perfect for at least a dozen cars, wouldn't have been much fun with our rig. As luck would have it we made it right on time for the opening and we were the second ones to enter, this place had to be good. was. We ordered a large meat lovers and a supreme. The wait time was going to be 30 minutes and the boys were starving so we ordered their pepperoni garlic knots too; those things were awesome. Honestly, the meat lovers was our favorite but both were great from the dough to the sauce and everything on top. Couldn't ask for a better way to wrap up our short weekend getaway. Even better, for four people, the entire trip was just $300 including all our food, fuel, drinks,campsite, etc.

In conclusion, we look forward to another trip to Jonathan Dickinson soon being that it is so close. The campground isn't as private as we'd like but with the right gear and time on the river, it is manageable and worth still doing. If you are into extreme biking, this is also the campground for you. Still not sure what you might need to begin your glamping adventures? Check out our checklist and explore the blog for other suggestions. Happy glampin!

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