Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Collier Seminole-as Far South in West Florida as You Can Get in a State Park

Monday and Tuesday  February 16 & 17, 2015
Collier Seminole State Park
Naples, Florida


We’ve moved further south in Florida to try to escape night time temps in the 30’s.  We are now south of Naples.  Next step and we’d be in the Everglades.  It didn’t work completely since a low of 32 is predicted but so far the low has been 42.  Seems you need to be out west to totally escape this year’s winter on the east coast.






We packed up from Koreshan at the very last moment since our move was only 40 miles south and we knew we couldn’t check in until after noon.  This is my kind of move but David had the easy drive.  He took Winnona down I75 straight to the park while I had to drive down the ridiculously busy and light ridden Route 41 to stop by the Naples Whole Foods.   He actually arrived over an hour before I did despite the fact that I left nearly an hour before he did.

Other than food, I did see one interesting thing at Whole Foods.  It was in their parking lot.







We set up in Site 115 which is a nice roomy site with a view of the jam of sites across the way that I am glad I am not part of.   The park is rather a hodge podge of sites on the inside and outside of two circles.  Things on the outside ring are best and my favorites are 115 through 119.

The park was closed to reservations for nearly a year and I thought they would be redoing the campground but when I asked at check in I was told no, nothing was done and the park was never closed, just closed to reservations.  The woman rolled her eyes and said “Tallahassee”.   The closure of the park campground for renovations is still to come they are told.








Actually the nicest campground in the park is the tent campground, a separate loop with sites 1-19.  The loop has huge sites with wonderful vegetation and has water and electric.   Take a look.   Winnona could easily fit in there although the loop is small so backing in for trailers would be very tricky.   On Reserve America all the sites say Tent Only but I’ve see several small trailers in there, a casita and an a-frame.







We’ve been hearing a hawk keer keering this morning and when we step outside to go check out the rest of the park, we see him.   He’s showing off his red shoulder.





 There are several things to see in the park including the block house just outside the campground.  It was built as the caretaker’s residence in 1940 to look like a 3rd Seminole War Blockhouse.   I had no idea what a block house was so I asked the Great Google and it said   “In military science, a blockhouse is a small, isolated fort in the form of a single building. It serves as a defensive strong point against any enemy that does not possess siege equipment or, in modern times, artillery.”  Guess they thought it would work for the Seminoles who call themselves “the unconquered people” because they never surrendered and the U.S. Troops sort of gave up.  The Everglades helped Seminole considerably.

Inside the Blockhouse is a small exhibit about the work of Barron Collier in securing the park.  He was an advertising entrepreneur who became the biggest landowner and developer in Florida. In the 1920’s, He owned 1000 acres in southwest Florida making him the largest landowner in the state.  He was responsible for the money backing the creation of the Tamiami Trail and the draining of the Everglades.




We’ve been told some of the young summer volunteers live in the upstairs of the blockhouse which is off limits to visitors.






The blockhouse area is surrounded by this low coquina fence, an early common building material.   Coquina rock began forming along a long portion of Florida's East Coast, in the latter part of the Pleistocene Age 1.8 Million years ago. It is mainly composed of incompletely consolidated sedimentary rock. It is formed of billions of small clam-like seashell, called Coquina, or cockleshell. Overall composition of most Coquina rock is a mixture of these small marine clams, crushed oyster shell, mollusk shell, fragmented fossils, fragmented coral, crinoids, limestone, red sand, white sand, phosphate, calcite, and perhaps a little clay. It is relatively soft when quarried, and hardens over the years, after surface exposure.   It’s found mostly along the east coast all the way up to North Carolina so the Barron must have had it shipped in on his railroad.  We’ve seen buildings made of it on Florida’s east coast.


A little further along the park road beyond the campground are some exhibits dedicated to the name sakes of the park.

The area where the Barron Collier memorial is located and the surrounding area was known as Royal Palm Hammock because of the magnificent stand of native Royal Palms growing here.  Collier reserved 150 acres for what he hoped would be Lincoln-Lee National Park.  Although he ultimately donated enough land to qualify for a national park, the government wouldn’t accept it.  Wouldn’t accept free land??   So the land became a county and ultimately a state park. A monument to him has been erected in a field with Royal Palms growing in it. Sort of an elaborate thing I thought for a state park.  A Grecian monument??  When I visited a guy was hitting golf balls across the large field.











Just beyond the Collier memorial is a small exhibit to the Seminole Indians.  The Seminoles had thatched roof homes they called chickees.  Neither of these is a home so I guess they are just models to show how the roofs were made of palm.  The larger one has an interesting dug out cypress canoe with a nice mural behind it.





We pass the picnic grounds on our way to see the boat launch.  The tables are covered to look like chickees but not with palm.  The main thing we want to do here is to paddle the Blackwater kayak trail through the mangroves and it looks like a nice launch and an interesting paddle.





We see a sea eagle kayak out in the water and upon closer inspection it looks like the paddler has just pushed off from shore for a nap.  Can’t you just make up some great stories for why?







The park has 3 trails but only the Royal Palm Hammock Trailhead is within the park.  The others are accessed off of Route 41 about 3/4 of mile from the park.  One is to the east and the other to the west.  The Royal Palm  is a nature trail through the hammock with informative signs along the way talking about the Royal Palms, the Gumbo Limbo, with its red shedding bark and other botany of the area.







The Royal Palms tower over the other trees.  I love their straight trunks with the bright green upper parts and the raised rings on the trunk below that.   In 2004 Hurricane Charley toppled many of the trees.  We see several of their root masses along the trail.






I trade some carbon dioxide for some oxygen giving the Royal Palm a therapeutic hug. 




The boardwalk leads to a viewing platform where you can look out into the slough.  Today we see no activity but I’m sure if we come early or late in the day another time, we will.   It’s a lovely quiet place to spend some time.




It’s supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow.  That means no kayaking.  But we will get out on one of those other hikes if it lets up.


  1. It's RVers like that one in the parking lot that give us bad names and also makes the vendors not allow RV's to park at their business.

  2. Not sure I'd want to take a nap drifting on the Sea Eagle. Who knows where you'd end up! Maybe he needed quiet time away from his SO.. :)

  3. Wonder what the story was on that bus at Whole Foods.....it is sure a beauty! I think you definitely got the better spot at that campground :-) Collier's memorial really looks out of place. I'll take the palm roof instead thank you. If I come back as a tree I want to be the Gumbo Limbo! Groovy name, snazzy outfit, tall and thin.....seriously, that is the tree to be!! Hope your rain was light and moved on. Ours is supposed to start today through tomorrow (fingers crossed).

  4. What a nice place! The monument to Mr. Collier looks very out of place. Oh- I just saw Jodee's comment and apparently he agrees. Love the hawk! Hope it's warmer for you!

  5. Well, 42 is high during the day here today - at night...well...that's why you're in Florida :) Looks like a lovely place to kayak - I can't imagine feeling secure enough to 'nap' in my kayak and end up who knows where...! You learned a lot at the sites - thanks for sharing it with us!

  6. Looking at your photos of the sites in the park, you certainly got one of the nicer sites:) Looks like you will have lots to entertain yourself in this new home.

    Not sure I would want to nap in the kayak unless I was tied to something. Can't imagine where he'll end up! Sure hope your weather improves so you can do some kayaking. Sure was a terrible cold snap.

  7. Yes, we have missed all the cold this year in the southwest, but those photos in your blog make me miss South Florida. Love your in depth descriptions and photos of the area. Makes me feel like I'm there with you two.

  8. Amazing the federal government turned down the free land. Thank goodness the county and later state took charge or there'd be all kinds of houses and shopping malls on that beautiful land. Too many places have been developed and nature's beauty is lost forever.

  9. we like that particular park... glad you got a spot there...

  10. The block house is quite unusual. The Collier memorial reminds me of a folly on the property of one of our prime ministers, left in perpetuity to the country after his death.

  11. I don't know what you mean by raised rings on the lower trunk. They look pretty mossy green all the way up to me...

  12. That is the first time I have actually seen the red shoulder on the hawk with that name! Great shot! Glad the Seminoles were able to escape and survive to live in autonomy as best they can. Lucky for them they seem to be neighbors to various Federal lands and preserves & not surrounded by development.

  13. Kind of looks like that bus is moved in. My little camper would slip right into one of those tent sites but I like my wide open desert with warmer temps better. Although I do love these hikes.

  14. Keep on tree hugging its good for you. I still can't find a tree to hug. All your activities in Florida are really making me want to come back there.

  15. It has been many years since I have been to Florida. Thank you for posting about nature and your surroundings!

  16. That cold weather in Florida is really hanging on. My dad always says the cold kills the bugs, so that's a good thing. :-) Looks like you've found another interesting place to explore -- and another that we've not yet visited. Thanks so much for all of the great advice!

  17. Great tour of Collier Seminole SP. Crazy nonsense about the renovations?!?! Glad you got one of those first 4 sites as the rest of the park is a tangled mess:o((( The Royal Palm and Gumbo Limbo trees are just so different yet two of my very favorites:o)))

  18. Pretty cool bus in that Whole Foods parking lot. Is that a sun deck on top??

    Can't say I'd ever take a nap in our Sea Eagle. I, too, would be afraid of where I might drift off to. But at least it looks like he has on his life jacket. :-)


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