My friend and I are planning to go camping for three days next week. Since it's winter here in the US, we're targeting the south east side (FL, SC, etc.) I am looking for suggestions on camping sites that are walking distance to the beach (for fishing) and can easily obtain dead branches (for fire). Most of the camping I did in the past was in Australia so this is my first time in the US. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
It depends on the kind of camping you want to do.
The easiest type of camping to find is camping at a campground. Usually this involves paying a nightly fee (often around $20-30 per night) for a numbered, designated campsite. Usually the campsite comes with a fire pit and/or grill, a picnic table, a parking spot, and space to pitch a tent. Most campgrounds also have shared bathroom facilities including flush toilets and showers. Campgrounds can be found at many National Forests, National Parks, State Parks, and State Forests. They are easy to find through the website for that park. Commercial campgrounds are also common in some areas.
The other type of camping is primitive, backwoods, backcountry and/or dispersed camping. You may need a permit; be sure to review the specific rules and restrictions for the area. This type of camping is most common in national forests. It's available in some national parks as well, but with much tighter restrictions. The terms are used somewhat interchangeably, but here's a general breakdown:
- Primitive or backwoods camping means there are no amenities. Dig your own pit toilet and fire pit (and fill it in afterwards). Fires may or may not be allowed.
- Dispersed backwoods camping means you can camp anywhere in the designated area. There are always some site-specific exceptions, like a setback distance from streams.
- Backwoods camping at designated sites means there are specific camp spots (usually each spot is named or numbered). If fires are allowed in that area, there will often be a metal fire ring or stone-lined fire pit.
Here's a list of national parks, national forests, and state parks in the southeast US that have beaches and camping. I didn't actually look into the fishing options, but many of these will have fishing. I assumed you wanted an ocean beach with saltwater fishing. If you're interested in inland fishing on a river or lake, your options are even more numerous.
National Forests - Visit their website and interactive forest locator map. Camping information is available on the page for each specific forest. The website makes it difficult to figure out where dispersed camping is actually allowed, so I recommend calling the local ranger station for information (email if you must, but they're usually extremely helpful over the phone). Finding information about national forests is usually more difficult than for national parks, but if you're looking for a remote, isolated wilderness experience, dispersed camping in a national forest is the way to go.
- Croaton National Forest in North Carolina - This forest has several campgrounds, and some dispersed camping. Local ranger office: Croatan Ranger District - District Ranger Rondall Hudson - 141 E. Fisher Avenue, New Bern, NC 28560 - phone: (252) 638-5628 - firstname.lastname@example.org - Business Hours: (Mon - Fri) 8-4:30 (closed from 12pm - 1pm).
- Francis Marion and Sumter National Forest in South Carolina - Developed and primitive campsites are available, as well as dispersed camping with a permit. Local ranger office: Francis Marion Ranger District Office - 2967 Steed Creek Road, Huger, SC 29450 - Phone: (843) 336-2200 - email@example.com
National Parks - find a park here. The National Park system exists to protect the most exceptionally beautiful landscapes in the US. If you're looking for natural beauty, you can't beat a National Park. These parks typically have more visitors and tighter restrictions than National Forests.
- National Parks in Florida that allow camping and have a beach:
- Gulf Islands National Seashore - this park has campgrounds as well as dispersed backcountry camping in designated areas. Boat-in camping is allowed in many parts of this park.
- Everglades National Park - this park has two campgrounds and some designated backcountry campsites (no dispersed camping)
- Dry Tortugas National Park - primitive camping only; this park is accessible only by a daily ferry, or by hiring a boat or seaplane
- Big Cypress National Preserve - this park has 8 campgrounds as well as a huge expanse of backcountry where you can backcountry camp with a permit
- National Parks in Georgia that allow camping and have a beach:
- National Parks in South Carolina that allow camping and have a beach:
- National Parks in North Carolina that allow camping and have a beach:
State Parks are managed by the individual state goverment and can be extremely variable in quality and type. The worst state parks can be a boring mowed field with a few unshaded campsites and a manmade fishing pond. The best state parks have extraordinarily beautiful natural landscapes comparable to National Parks, but are less crowded. As long as you do your research, you can have a great experience with a state park.
- Camping in Florida State Parks
- Camping in Georgia State Parks
- Camping in South Carolina State Parks
- Camping in North Carolina State Parks
You need a state-issued fishing license to fish in the United States. (Even if you're just dangling your line in the water and not planning on catching anything.) Fishing licenses are issued by the department of natural resources in each state. Each state has its own separate government, so the regulations are different in each state. If you want to go fishing in multiple states, you'll need a fishing license for each state. Here are the current prices (as of November 21, 2019) and links to purchase fishing licenses in some of the southeastern states.
- South Carolina Fishing License - A 14-day non-resident freshwater fishing license is $11; a 14-day non-resident saltwater license is separate (also $11).
- Florida Fishing License - A non-resident 3-day freshwater fishing license costs $17. A saltwater license is separate, and the same price.
- Georgia Fishing License - A non-resident one-day freshwater fishing license is $10, plus $3.50 for each additional day. Saltwater fishing requires a Saltwater Fishing Information Permit, which is free (presumably they just want to make sure you understand the regulations).
- North Carolina Fishing License - A 10-day permit for a non-resident is $18 for inland fishing and $10 for coastal fishing.
There are no places in the US that meet your two criteria.
Gathering firewood is banded in most campgrounds. As seen in the related post, you can gather firewood in some very secluded locations, which will mostly exclude beach access.
Also you will need a fishing license to fish, these vary by state, and both your national and state citizenship will impact your ability to get a license.
Maybe start with finding which state you want to fish in, and can get a license in, then look for camping, and plan on paying a few dollars for campfire wood. Most campgrounds have firewood for sale for about $5 per bundle.