Discover Fort Clinch State Park, Florida

As you approach Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, put aside the tense memories of traffic lights, strip malls, and fast food joints that lead up to the park gates. Start to relax as you travel down the three winding miles under a majestic canopy of live oaks draped in Spanish moss. Not camping at Fort Clinch State Park? A six-dollar entry fee buys you a fantastic day of coastal swimming, birding, hiking, fishing, off-road biking, shark tooth hunting, and shelling.

Fort Clinch State Park Campground
30.670071, -81.434638
State Parks
Drive into Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, Amelia Island for camping and hiking

Fort Clinch State Park Campgrounds

Atlantic Beach Campground

On paper you might look at the two available tent camping areas and choose the Atlantic Beach Campground location which is within walking distance to the beach. What you gain in ready ocean access, you'll lose in spades by way of privacy and vital shade, especially if visiting Fort Clinch State Park in the summer months.

  • Parking is also a little removed from the tent blocks meaning you'll have a short haul of your gear.
  • Access to the bath house – while convenient to the RV slips – is less so for the segregated tent site population.

Amelia River Campground

In the midst of a maritime hammocks forest,  the Amelia River Campground – in our estimation – is a much better option with natural screens providing privacy and wind reduction. An excellent little west facing 'beach' on the Amelia River is easily accessible from the end of the campground loop. A great place to do a little fishing or to take in a glorious Florida sunset.

FYI: Modern and very clean bathhouses - including laundry – are at both the beach and river campgrounds.

Historic Fort Clinch State Park, Florida

Rich in both natural and historical resources, you have to hand it to the State of Florida for preserving Fort Clinch State Park in both capacities. The land itself has been through many owners (including private ownership), but was finally purchased by the state in 1935. From the year 1937-42, the Civilian Conservation Corps repaired the fort and built a visitor center - adding roads, campsites, restrooms, and picnic areas to become one of Florida’s first eight state parks.

Named for General Duncan Clinch who fought in both the War of 1812 and the Seminole War (and later went on to become a Georgia congressman), the pentagon-shaped Fort Clinch is a visual delight.  Having played a part in three wars – Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War II – its riverfront location, huge cannon-topped stone walls, and various furnished rooms help transport you back to the 1800's.

Fort Clinch State Park Things to Know:

  • Hours: 8am - sundown daily
  • Park Entrance Fee: $6/vehicle

Fort Clinch State Park Museum and Tour 

The self-guided tour (extra fee) begins at the Fort Clinch Museum. A short looping film, various visual displays, weapons, and artifact collections aid in your introduction to the historic site and to what the life of a Union Soldier would have been like in the mid-19th century. Because of its well-preserved thick masonry walls, Fort Clinch is considered one of the finest examples of a Third System of Fortification. Construction on the fort began in 1847, and it was designed to garrison up to 500 soldiers. Read about other Third System forts: Fort Pickens, Fort Pulaski.

Exhibit in the museum at Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, while camping on Amelia Island

The Fort Clinch tour takes you through finished guard rooms, prison, barracks, storehouses, and kitchens that help re-create an 1864 era.  Walk the large ramp and get close to the enormous cannons that point out over the Cumberland Sound awaiting an impending invasion.  As part of the living history experience, a soldier in Civil War period uniform welcomes questions from visitors to the fort.

Fort Clinch State Park Museum & Fort Tour Things to Know: 

  • Fort Hours: 9am - 5pm daily
  • Self-guided tour fee: $2.50/person

Architecturally speaking, Fort Clinch is an impressive site and you are free to explore the extensive grounds, rooms, tunnels, and nooks with very few areas roped off.  Examine winding stairwells, graceful arches, gun ports, and turrets  - some in original brick. Watch out for historical graffiti carved into the walls. Where newer reconstruction occurs, the craftsmen have stayed true to period aesthetic principles.

Brick interior of Fort Clinch State Park, Florida while camping on Amelia Island

Fort Clinch State Park Events

Other events and reenactments that might be of interest:

  • Candlelight Tours – First Saturday evening Oct-May (excluding Dec); Friday & Saturday evenings, May – Labor Day
  • Federal Garrisons – First full weekend of every month
  • Confederate Garrisons – 3rd weekend of Mar; 2nd weekend of Oct
  • World War II Garrison – Memorial Day weekend
  • Spanish American War Garrisons –3rd weekend April & Sept
  • History of American Soldier – 2nd Saturday of November
  • Federal Holiday Jollification – 1st Saturday of December
Dupont cannon powder kegs in corner at Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, Amelia Island
Cannons on ridge around historic Fort Clinch State Park on sunny day in Florida, on Amelia Island
Looking through a brick gun portal at historic Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, on Amelia Island
Three people walking toward the entrance to historic Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, on Amelia Island
Walking through arched brick walkway and viewing a series of arched brick windows in historic Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, on Amelia Island
Historical graffiti carved into the bricks at historic Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, on Amelia Island

Fort Clinch State Park: Willow Pond Nature Trail

Hiking at Willow Pond Nature Trail in Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, Amelia Island

We could see where it would be easy to get all caught up in the historic features of Fort Clinch State Park. Do make sure to include a hike or two. Looking for a trail recommendation? Consider Willow Pond Nature Trail.  Twist your way through the maritime hammock ecosystem  and look for numbered markers indicating unique features along this family-friendly hike.  It is a perfect habitat for wildlife observation so look out for: alligators, gopher tortoises, bobcats, raccoons, and a variety of migratory and resident avian species.

TIP:  Guided nature walks are also available. See the park website for dates and times.

Fort Clinch State Park Beach

Best beach while camping at Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, Amelia Island

From the parking area, boardwalks lead you through the dunes, past the rest rooms, and on to the glorious white sand beaches at Fort Clinch State Park.  The undeveloped shoreline adds to the remote feeling of the park and makes for a perfect location from which to spend the day playing in the Atlantic ---hunting for shells, fishing from the pier, or searching for sharks' teeth. A very welcome array of outdoor showers are available as you leave to help wash the sand and salt away before returning to camp.

  • Swim at your own risk; no lifeguards on duty
  • Pay close attention to posted warning flags

Read about other Florida campgrounds:

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Expansive view of exterior brick walls of historic Fort Clinch
American flag flying in front of outbuilding in the courtyard of historic Fort Clinch, Florida
Beautiful typography on commander's barrack door in historic Fort Clinch, Florida
Two people view two of the mounted cannons and the courtyard with American flag flying in historic Fort Clinch, Florida
Looking through No.17 cannon toward Cumberland Sound with five people at a distant cannon in historic Fort Clinch, Florida
Teenager on Willow Pond Trail looking at pond duckweed with an alligator crossing sign at Fort Clinch State Park, Florida
Two people on boardwalk heading to the beach with yellow warning flag and no pets sign at Fort Clinch State Park, Florida
Wide, sandy white beach and bright blue sky at Fort Clinch State Park, Florida
Sunset on Amelia River on rocky shore near Amelia River campground at Fort Clinch State Park, Florida
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Visitors Center
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Best Site
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Open Year Round
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*Tent campsites only; accurate at time of publication
2601 Atlantic Avenue
Fernandina Beach
Bathrooms - new and clean. Atlantic beach campground: tent area is not shaded. RVs have better access to beach and bathrooms. Amelia River campground: well-shaded and sites 39-42 have short walk to Cumberland Sound shore. Pets are allowed in the campgrounds, but not on the beaches, trails, buildings, or in historic Fort Clinch.
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