Sports & Recreation

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Best Place to Sleep Outdoors Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2004 - Scrub Jay Campsite

It's a grueling, five-mile hike to the desolate Scrub Jay campsite deep within Jonathan Dickinson State Park, especially when hauling camping gear, but it's well worth your aching back. The campsite is hidden in the sandy uplands, among a sprawling field dotted with slash pines and filled with saw palmetto bushes. Unlike most state park campsites, mashed together like suburban ranch homes, the Scrub Jay sits all alone in this 11,500-acre park. It's big enough for eight campers, and your only neighbors will be the bobcats, eagles, and osprey. During the dry season, the site is far enough away from the Loxahatchee River and its swampy mosquito breeding grounds. The view isn't Grand Canyon-worthy, but the simplicity of the star-filled sky and wide-open prairies, just ten miles from Interstate 95 insanity, makes you realize what drew early settlers to Florida's wilds. The park charges a measly $4 for the site, but call ahead, as this site is well-known to adventurous campers. Unless you plan to boil your own urine, which isn't recommended unless mixed with two parts vodka and one part grenadine, bring iodine tablets for the untreated well water. The park requires campers to begin the journey at least three hours before sunset, but give yourself more time if you don't have a sherpa to carry in the beer.

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