Located just a short drive from downtown Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, Gulf Breeze and Gulf Shores, Alabama, Big Lagoon State Park is a gem among Florida state parks.
As an Airstream owner who travels extensively in my Airstream, Big Lagoon is one of a half-dozen state parks and state forest campgrounds between Mobile, Alabama and Panama City Beach that are great stops for locals, snowbirds and full-time nomads.
Big Lagoon State Park Camping
Camping at Big Lagoon is a popular option for visitors, with both tent and RV sites available.
The campground features 75 campsites and is open year-around.
Some of the campsites are situated along the boardwalk that leads to the beach(when it opens back up!), offering scenic views and easy access to the water.
RV Camping at Big Lagoon State Park
One of the reasons I purchased a 22″ Airstream Caravel was because I can get into just about any RV spots at older national park sites like Fort Pickens or trickier setups in the South that require fancy maneuvering.
My guess is that due to the hurricane damage imposed on Big Lagoon by Hurricane Sally, the sites have not been updated to the degree that other Florida state parks have.
All but a couple are sandy – if you’re lucky or like me have made out a list of the best sites in every park you’ve visited, you’ll likely end up with an uneven site with dirt. It’s just something to be aware of.
Pet Policy at Big Lagoon State Park
For those traveling with furry friends, Big Lagoon is a great destination. Pets are welcome in the park but must be kept on a leash at all times.
Big Lagoon State Park Fees
The fees at Big Lagoon are reasonable, with daily entrance fees ranging from $2 to $6 per vehicle depending on the number of occupants.
To make reservations and get up to date fee information for Big Lagoon, access the Florida State Park reservation website.
Camping fees range from $18 to $28 per night for tent sites and $28 to $42 per night for RV sites, with discounts available for seniors, disabled persons, and military veterans.
The state park system imposed a $7 per day utility fee for RV sites in 2021 or 2022 which has upset some people.
I don’t agree with most people’s complaints when I consider the total cost of a comparable RV site in the Georgia, Tennessee or Alabama state park systems are much higher.
If the fee were not imposed as a “utility fee” and just built in to the daily rate, it might not be as poorly received as it has been.
Regardless, even with the $7 daily fee, the park is a good value.
When Big Lagoon gets back up to full power and the renovations are completed, it will be incredible.
Things to Do Near Big Lagoon State Park in Pensacola
In addition to the activities within the park, there are many things to see and do near Big Lagoon.
The park is just a short drive from Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key, and the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which offer beautiful beaches, nature trails, scenic views and the historically significant Fort Pickens complex.
Other nearby attractions include the Naval Air Station and the National Naval Aviation Museum, downtown Pensacola, and the Blue Angels, who practice their aerial acrobatics over the city.
Living Near Big Lagoon State Park
Living near Big Lagoon offers a peaceful and relaxed lifestyle, with easy access to outdoor activities and natural beauty.
Depending on your lifestyle, preference and budget, you can find just about any “happy place” except for a house near snow-capped mountains near Big Lagoon.
The thing I’ve come to appreciate about the area is the natural diversity, from the longleaf pines in Blackwater River State Forest, the coastal communities along 30A and then throw in a smallish downtown Pensacola that has historical significance, culture and great entertainment options.
Further to the west and sandwiched between Pensacola Beach and downtown Pensacola is Gulf Breeze, where I reside when I’m not traveling, is a charming coastal community with a small-town feel and plenty of amenities.
Hurricane Sally and Big Lagoon State Park
Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Sally in 2020 and the storm surge and heavy rainfalls that accompanied it, some of Big Lagoon’s recreational areas and trails are closed.
Hurricane Sally made landfall on September 16, 2020, as a Category 2 hurricane near Gulf Shores, Alabama, and caused significant damage throughout the Gulf Coast region, including Big Lagoon.
The storm surge and heavy rain from Hurricane Sally caused flooding throughout the park, damaging facilities and infrastructure.
The park’s campground and picnic areas were flooded, and the park’s boardwalks and trails were also impacted by the storm.
As of spring 2023, the beach and several of the boardwalks are still closed.
Is it worth staying at Big Lagoon with parts of the campground closed?
It’s still worth visiting if you want to launch out of the parking area or if you’re traveling by RV and aren’t depending on the campground to be your main source of entertainment.
Beaches near Big Lagoon State Park
There are several nearby beaches that visitors can access while camping at Big Lagoon.
Located within the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Johnson Beach is a white sand beach that is just a short drive from Big Lagoon.
Johnson Beach is part of the Gulf Island National Seashore System.
If you don’t have a National Park Service card, the daily rate is steep.
I purchased an annual NPS pass because I love Johnson Beach and am really grateful that when I get the itch to fish, I can cast in the Gulf and within minutes switch up and work my line on the Bay side.
With the National Park pass, entrance for the day is free.
Always check the mid-range weather forecast before making plans for Johnson Beach.
The National Seashore, understandably so, is very proactive when it comes to closing their facilities.
It’s an extremely fragile piece of land and highly susceptible to sand erosion, flooding and impassable roads.
Fortunately, if it’s a beautiful day but 3 days out from a big storm, you’ll still have other options.
Perdido Key Beach
Perdido Key Beach is another nearby option for beachgoers.
The beach is located on the barrier island of Perdido Key, just a short drive from Big Lagoon.
Pensacola Beach is located on Santa Rosa Island, just across the bridge from Gulf Breeze.
This area can get extremely congested.
It will rarely be a local’s first choice for a day at the beach, primarily because of the traffic in and out.
If I’m going to make the trip into Pensacola Beach, I’m going to use my National Park Pass and drive the extra 5-6 miles back west on Fort Pickens Road towards Langdon Beach.
I’ll still get stuck in the traffic back and forth, but we’ll have a full day of peace that far down the coast.
Directions to Big Lagoon State Park
To reach Big Lagoon from downtown Pensacola, take FL-292 west for approximately 10 miles, then turn left onto Gulf Beach Hwy.
Continue on Gulf Beach Highway for approximately 4 miles, then turn right onto Bauer Rd.
Follow Bauer Rd for approximately 1 mile to the park entrance.
Did you enjoy these photos of Big Lagoon State Park?
If you enjoyed this overview of Big Lagoon State Park and the photos of the area, please share with your Airstream owners, RV camping fans, Florida State Park, Gulf Island National Seashore visitors and anyone interested in moving to Pensacola, Gulf Breeze or Pensacola Beach. Thank you – I’d love to hear what you think below!
My name is Bob Pudlock and I’m an avid traveler who loves to experience the diverse natural resources in the Southeast, whether it’s in the Florida Panhandle, South Florida or along the Northwest coast of Florida.
I’m an executive recruiter and recruitment marketing professional by trade and am an active real estate investor and agent.