Home » 2009 Southeast Coast Trip

Gamble Rogers State Park, FL

Sunday, August 9, 2009 - 2:30pm by Lolo
214 miles and 3.75 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay


Campground View from Lazy Daze roofCampground View from Lazy Daze roofWhen we left Savannah on Sunday afternoon, we had no idea where we would be staying that night. It was one of the rare “wing it” parts of my itinerary. However, being the obsessive compulsive trip planner that I am, I had mapped out a list of Georgia and Florida state parks en route from Savannah to John Pennekamp State Park (our next scheduled stop), complete with park descriptions and mileage from Savannah, just so I would be prepared for that inevitable question, “Where are we staying tonight?” I had choices ranging from 20 miles to 400 miles. I was ready.

However, the list was made before I realized that the only criteria I wanted in a state park was easy beach access—not fishing, birding, historical sites, or pristine walks through marshes—just someplace to cool off. After some phone calls to the parks themselves I found out that there was really only one on my list that had a campground right on the beach, and that was Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach. Two problems: it was 215 miles from Savannah (a bit more driving than we had planned for the day), and there were only two campsites left and they couldn’t be reserved on the same day. So it became an anxious drive with me calling the poor park ranger every half hour, asking him “Is there still a campsite for tonight?”

Campsite #8Campsite #8When we finally got there, Herb let me out at the campground gate to try to find out where to check in while he drove into the day-use section of the park on the other side of the road (Highway A1A) to turn around. Well, that turned out to be where the Camper Check-In office was, so Herb wound up going in to inquire about availability rather than me. Herb said it was pretty funny because he could see that the ranger looked a little uncomfortable at the thought of giving away what was now the last campsite to someone other than the crazy lady that had been calling him repeatedly on the phone for the last few hours. He relaxed a bit when Herb told him that his wife had called him several times about a campsite.

The campground really did have a great location, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other, with Highway A1A running in between. The campground was on the ocean side, with 17 campsites directly on the ocean and another 17 across from them. Unfortunately, we didn’t get one of the ones directly on the ocean, but it was still really close to go down to the beach. Meanwhile, on the other side of highway there were nature trails that the boys could go for a run on.

Since it was already close to 7:00 when we arrived, the boys immediately went off for a run, while Herb and I grabbed two glasses of wine and headed down to the beach to hang out until they returned. When they came back they were in great spirits, nothing like the cranky runners of Hunting Island. They said the trails were great and running in the evening was definitely “the ticket.” When they’re happy, I’m happy, so the next morning I went over to the office first thing and booked another night. It would leave us a lot of driving on the following day to get to John Pennekamp State Park, but I know a good thing when I see it, and this place was going to be just what we needed.

View of beach from campground bluffView of beach from campground bluffWe spent the entire next day at the beach, playing in the surf. The waves were much bigger than the kind I really like, because I am a bit of a weenie when it comes to ocean swimming. Usually I’m afraid to go out too far, so I stand waist-deep, looking enviously at everyone else playfully bobbing up and down beyond the break, while getting hammered in the face by these very same waves as they broke right on top of me. The boys, who are really sweet and felt badly that I was missing out on the fun, decided to take me on as their special project and give me some remedial lessons in dealing with the surf.

They introduced me to a game, which I’m sure they just made up, called “washing machine.” The rules were quite simple. The three of us—with me in the middle so I couldn’t escape—sat down in a spot where the water came up to our shoulders. Then we waited, with me clamping my nose shut, for a wave to wash over us and toss us about like laundry in a washing machine. I never had so much fun as I was flipped upside down, sideways, and every which way. Once I had rid myself of some of the fear of what a wave could do to me, they brought me out beyond the breakers, showing me along the way how to just go under a wave if it was about to break on top of me. They were quite proud of my progress.

That day was a total role reversal. As they lay on the beach trying to relax and read, I kept pestering them to come in the water and play “washing machine” with me.


Gamble Rogers is located along Highway A1A in Flagler Beach, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. The ocean side of the park has a 34-site campground overlooking the Atlantic, with a short walk along a boardwalk to the beach. The Intracoastal Waterway side has a nature trail through a coastal forest of scrub oaks and saw palmettos, a boat ramp, and picnic pavilions along the waterway.

The park is named for Florida folk singer Gamble Rogers who died while attempting to save a drowning man.

Gamble Rogers State Park location map in "high definition"

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