Cumberland Island National Seashore | STAFFORD CAMPGROUND

Stafford Campground at Cumberland Island National Seashore

Stafford Campground at Cumberland Island National Seashore

SEASONS AND HOURS

Stafford Campground is open year-round.

GETTING THERE

Stafford Campground is one of two developed campgrounds at Cumberland Island National Seashore, complete with modern plumbing and cold showers. However, it is 3.6 miles from Sea Camp, the place where all campers land on the island. It takes about two hours on foot to reach the campground via the Parallel / Pratts Trail combo. A second route from Sea Camp for both hikers and bikers is to take Grand Avenue (the main road through the park) north and turn right on Stafford Beach Road, which is clearly marked with a sign (this road leads to the campground and the beach). This route is roughly three-quarters of a mile longer than the hiking trails, though on bike you can get there in a little over a half hour. Of course, how you carry your equipment on a bike is to be determined.

No carts or coolers with wheels on them are allowed north of Sea Camp, so those camping at Stafford must carry their equipment on foot or bike.

NUMBER OF SITES

There are ten campsites at Stafford, all located along the road.

TYPE OF CAMPING

Tent camping only.

AMENITIES

There are no picnic tables, electricity, or water hookups at any site. There are fire rings / grills, but not one at each site—you may have to share. There is a modern bathroom with cold showers. There are some electrical outlets at the bathroom building that can be used to charge electronics on a first come, first served basis.

Restroom at Stafford Campground on Cumberland Island

Restroom at Stafford Campground on Cumberland Island

All water must be treated before drinking, so bring as much of your own as possible. There is a separate water source for drinking water at the end of the road.

There are no food storage lockers at Stafford Campground, and animals will tear into your gear when you are gone to get at your food (I had a squirrel eat right through a heavy-duty plastic container to get at some peanuts, so don’t overestimate the strength of your food storage containers). Therefore you must bring a rope long enough to toss over a tree branch and suspend your food off the ground. You will also need some type of bag for your food.

Keeping food from the racoons

Keeping food from the raccoons

TERRAIN

The ground at Stafford Campground is flat with a sandy soil that is covered in leaves and other debris that falls from the trees. All sites are well shaded by live oaks. A few are located in cubbyholes that provide privacy, but most are situated one after another with nothing between sites. I like this setup because I enjoy meeting fellow campers. My guess is that most of the people who are willing to walk this far are young, so I suspect that the group-type atmosphere goes over pretty well.

RESERVATIONS

Reservations for all campgrounds can be made up to six months in advance and are now required. Book your campsite online at Recreation.gov. Keep in mind that unless you have your own boat that you must travel by ferry, and the campsite and ferry bookings are done at different websites. This sets up what is known as a Catch-22 situation—you can’t book a site until you have a ferry ticket, and you don’t want a ferry ticket unless you have a campsite. This usually isn’t a problem, but at busy times such as Spring Break, if only a few ferry tickets remain, it is possible that by the time you book your campsite they may be gone, and vice versa. Keep in mind that the ferry does not operate daily from December through February.

Those camping Stafford must return on the 2:45 PM ferry on the day of departure.

Camping fees do not include park entrance fees, so everyone must check in at the Visitor Center to pay the fee. Arrive an hour before your departure time to minimize standing in line, for the closer to departure, the longer the line.

Getting a campsite at Stafford is much easier than getting one at Sea Camp. Sea Camp is the first campground to fill up, and during the peak camping season (March-June) you have very little chance of getting a Sea Camp site if you try to make a reservation only a few weeks in advance, especially on weekends. On my first visit I could not get a site at Sea Camp, but Stafford had only one site taken during this same time. On my second trip I tried booking a site at Sea Camp two weeks prior to my arrival during Spring Break and again could not get one, but again Stafford was available. Since I had my young daughter with me, I didn’t want to hassle with carrying equipment, so I opted to camp on the mainland at Crooked River State Park.

For the current camping fees, visit the National Park Service’s official Camping web page for Cumberland Island National Seashore.

CAMPGROUND RULES

  • Stay Limit: 7 consecutive nights.
  • A person cannot hold more than one permit for the same date. That permit holder must occupy the site.
  • Maximum campers and equipment: The individual site maximum is six persons.
  • Gear Transport: Campers are responsible for transporting gear from the dock to the campgrounds. Carts can only be used to transport gear to Sea Camp Campground.
  • Campfires: Only permitted at Sea Camp & Stafford Beach. Use designated fire rings only. You may gather dead and down wood or purchase bundles of firewood on the ferry.
  • Check out time: 10:00 a.m.
  • Quiet hours: 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
  • Food and Trash Storage: Store or hang all food and trash. Raccoons are common. Follow Leave No Trace principles
  • Drinking Water: Available at Plum Orchard and all areas south of Sea Camp. Treat water at all other areas of the island.
  • No Pets: Only service animals are permitted in campgrounds.
  • No Lifeguards. Swim at your own risk.
  • All animals on the island – including horses – are wild! Do not approach within 50 feet of horses; they may bite or kick.

Back to the Top


With a few exceptions, use of any photograph on the National Park Planner website requires a paid Royalty Free Editorial Use License or Commercial Use License. See the Photo Usage page for details.
Last updated on April 13, 2022
Share this article