Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anastasia State Park, Revisited

I picked a campsite I liked at Anastasia State Park, in St. Augustine, Florida, while browsing the on-line reservation system, and idly went off to ask my wife about our vacation schedule. By the time I returned to the PC to confirm the reservation, the site I wanted had been snapped up by someone else! I needed a five day window for our camping excursion, and only a few sites were open for five days in a row that particular week in August. I grabbed the next open site and we made plans to head back to our favorite campground in the Florida Park system. We were doing a doubleheader camping vacation, spending time at a park that was new to us at Wekiwa Springs, and finishing the vacation sitting on the white, pristine Atlantic beach of Anastasia State Park.

We arrived on a Friday afternoon after spending a wonderful week at Wekiwa Springs State Park, some 95 miles south. We always travel back roads when possible, and the trip up using FL 44 and Florida Highway 11 from Deland to Bunnell had been a really pretty, uncomplicated drive on a great road. Florida's state and county roads are really a treasure most motorists don't enjoy.  The drive from Deland to Bunnell is especially nice.

It didn't take long to understand why we had a problem getting reservations at Anastasia. The adjacent St. Augustine Amphitheater was having a concert headlined by Alison Krauss and Grand Union Station that very Friday night and many concert goers had brought their campers and tents to be conveniently located just a few hundred yards from the concert site. 

St. Augustine Amphitheater, adjacent to Anastasia State Park

Hint number 1: If you want a camping space on a Friday during a concert, make reservations early. Hint number 2: Check the on-line website for the St. Augustine Amphitheater schedule, and if you find a show you like, incorporate it into your camping stay. The service gate between the park and the Amphitheater is usually open, but it may be closed for performances, so if you plan on using the state park, be sure to check with the Amphitheater when buying your tickets! Duran Duran will be there in October, but they aren't on my must-see list.

While most of our camping neighbors walked through the woods to get to the concert, Ilse and I went down to the dark, almost deserted beach and listened to the concert of the pounding, heavy surf. We got back to our trailer just as the concert goers were emerging from the woods. We all had a good time.

A dead Red Bay tree stands among the dense foliage of the park

Anastasia offers 139 camping sites on five separate loops, several of which are for smaller RVs and trailers only. Most of the sites are level, and almost all are in full shade. However, several sites have quirks that can be aggravating, such as trees that grow in the middle or edge of the campsite that prevent use of awnings, or even keep you from backing fully into the campsite. Most, however, are really great sites. Only two we know of aren't level in the entire campground, and even they can be compensated for with judicious maneuvering of your RV.

One of the odd items this trip were the number of dead Red Bay trees, killed by an attack of Ambrosia Beetles.  The infestations, first seen in nearby Duval County only five years ago, have devastated the plentiful Bay trees of the Anastasia State Park.  State parks have restrictions on bringing firewood that may carry infestations from other locations to prevent introduction of diseases, but the Red Bay trees have succumbed to the pest beetle throughout the park.  None of the other trees have been affected, so the canopy of the dense woods prevails throughout the park even with the numerous dead Bay trees.  

The beach is one of the finest I've seen, and there is plenty of it! The nearby walking trail through the old ancient dunes is a pleasant 30 minute walk, and bicycling at Anastasia is a great way to get around! The kayak and sailing concession at the inlet offers rentals to those who don't bring their own boats. We have used our own kayaks here in the past, and find that this is one of the few State Park locations that allows private owners easy access to the water. Another reason we like this park.

We were impressed the first time we were here, and the second visit simply confirms our opinion: Anastasia State Park is a camping destination we will visit again. We had the unexpected pleasure of a beautiful Florida full moon the first time we were here. Walking through the park to the beach at midnight was a beautiful, almost dreamlike experience. 

I'd like to schedule another visit during a full moon of Fall.  Or maybe even during the winter with the cold, Atlantic air blowing over the sand dunes.  A neat place.

More information about Anastasia can be found at:

Next:  A change to one of our favorites, at Stephen Foster Cultural Center State Park, at:

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