Campground Review: Alafia River State Park, Lithia FL

We plan to do reviews on the various campgrounds and state/national parks where we stay. We hope these posts are as useful to future visitors to these locations as existing reviews have been to us. The reviews will also constitute our personal note taking of things to do or avoid doing when we visit again. We will update the ratings as appropriate as our travels give us a better basis for scoring and making comparisons.


Caveat: The things that matter to us heavily influence our scores. So, for example, we won’t be deducting much if a campground lacks a playground or doesn’t allow pets since that currently doesn’t matter to us. (Mandy, our dog, is dead.) We will, however, deduct if the location lacked good hiking trails, as that is a priority.


Our Categories:

Recreation/Amenities – hiking, gym, rec room, marina, pool, beach, etc.

Hookups & Connectivity – electric, water, sewer, Wi-Fi, cable, etc.

Local Vicinity Things to Do – cultural, historical, or otherwise fun things to do within 15 miles

Cleanliness – of bathrooms, showers, and grounds in general

Intangibles – friendliness, cost, wildlife, noise, things that really stand out, etc.

Overall Score – the average of the above 5 scores


So then, here we go…

Campground: Alafia River State Park, Lithia FL

Dates: June 9-12, 2015

Campsite: 30

Overall Score: 3.8 (out of 5)

Summary: We had a great time at this state park and would definitely return. I had been here a couple years earlier to run a half-marathon with my friend, Clare DeBoef, and had high expectations. The campground definitely lived up to those expectations.

Recreation/Amenities: 4.5 – Fairly high score based on 20+ miles of outstanding hiking/biking/equestrian trails. In fact, the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA, of which I am not a member) gave it an “epic” designation. To see a sampling of what makes it epic, check out this link…

To see why I will not be riding a mountain bike at high speeds through this park, see this link…

We did, however, hike two long hikes and enjoyed the views and exercise. There is also a nice fishing pond (with alligator), pavilions, and horse stables for boarding campers’ horses.

Hookups & Connectivity: 3.5 out of 5 – electric, water, and dump station (partial hookups). No Wi-Fi, cable TV, or sewer connection at site.

Local Vicinity Things to Do: 2 out of 5 – not much happening within 15 miles. Nearest restaurants are at Fishhawk. Awarding 2 points for the abundance of things to do within fairly easy driving distance (Tampa, Ybor City, Orlando, beaches, etc.)

Cleanliness: 4.5 out of 5

Intangibles: 4.5 out of 5 –

Pros – quiet, especially during the summer. Saw several deer every morning and evening throughout the campground. Good spacing between campsites. Friendly staff – a ranger spent several minutes explaining the various trails to me. Cool bat house by the lake. Our friends, John and Laurie, joined us for Chinese take-out and a final round of cards before leaving the state. $24.64/night.

Cons – several campsites were partially submerged following a heavy rain—we saw a couple of tent campers having to relocate to higher ground. Each campsite has a few trees providing shade, but only a few. Water had a bit of a rotten egg smell (hydrogen sulfide, maybe?)…I first noticed it while in the camp shower and thought, “Was that a frog?”

Big Steve

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One thought on “Campground Review: Alafia River State Park, Lithia FL”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening with the johnsons.
    The abundance of wild at this park,
    which once was part of the phosphate mining industry, was tremendous.
    Spent a day on the trails myself a couple
    years ago.
    Something tells me they had to put in
    extra hours of bathroom cleaning, after
    Steve left.
    Teeee heeee

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