Located just a 35 minute drive from Fort Myers, Koreshan State Park is one of Florida’s more fascinating state parks.
Based around a collection of historic buildings and gardens that are nestled on the banks of the Estero River, this park provides a compelling insight into the day lives of a notable religious pioneer group that lived under the majestic oaks trees in the 1890s.
Founded by one Dr. Cyrus R. Teed, the community here was based around the concept of communal living, celibacy and the firm view that the universe actually existed within earth’s core. During their time here, they established a nursery, farm and botanical gardens.
Today the Florida state park houses 11 wonderfully restored structures that have been registered as national historic buildings.
These can be explored via a ranger led tour, or independently.
Providing a welcome change of pace from the frenzy of city life, it is also a lovely place to relax among beautiful scenery which includes a bamboo forest.
If you love history, nature or al fresco activities like boating, paddling, fishing, hiking or picnicking, Koreshan State Park offers them all in abundance.
Visitors to the park can engage in a range of outdoor recreational pursuits during their time at Koreshan State Park.
Outlined below are some further details about all the things you can see and do while you are there.
Exploring the Koreshan Historic Settlement at Koreshan State Park
Back in 1961 the religious sect’s last surviving members donated 305 acres of the land they owned to the Florida State Park system.
This incorporates 11 original buildings which have been beautifully maintained and are now accessible by the public.
Visitors to the park can take part in a guided, ranger lead, historic tour of these structures which include the Damkohler house, the arts center and Planetary court.
One of the best parts of the tour is that you get to visit the Cast Iron Cafe. During this time you will be able to eat some of the foods Koreshan community members ate back in the day, at no extra cost.
This food is cooked in cast iron pots that sit on a wooden stove – just like they were during the group’s heyday.
Boating at Koreshan State Park
The Estero River is a tranquil body of water which leads you to Estero Bay. This three mile course provides excellent conditions for kayaking and canoeing.
If you didn’t bring them to the park with you, visitors can hire these vessels from the park’s main office.
Ranger-led guided tours are also sometimes on offer.
Fishing at Koreshan State Park
Koreshan State Park is renowned for having some of the best fishing in the state of Florida.
The brackish water that makes up the Estero River and Estero Bay is home to a diverse range of species including largemouth bass, sunfish, redfish, tarpon, snook and tilapia.
There are several very good fishing spots available on the banks of the river and at the bay. Should you want to cast a line, check with the Florida Wildlife Commission beforehand to ascertain if you need a license.
Hiking at Koreshan State Park
If you want to explore the park on foot there is a 1.5-mile loop that will take you into the heart of the park.
Known as the Koreshan Nature Trail, this easy walk will take you through the bamboo forest which was planted over a century ago by members of the settlement.
While walking this trail, you will also see several species of native plants and wildlife. The latter of which should include tortoises, bobcats, grey foxes, butterflies and snakes.
If you walk along the river look out for otters and of course, be aware of alligators.
Throughout the year, visitors can also take part in guided walks as well as attend lectures and demonstrations.
Led by expert naturalists and park rangers, they will take you to some of the park’s most beautiful spots, further showcasing its thriving flora and fauna.
These tours will also provide you with excellent photographic opportunities, as well as historical cooking demonstrations.
Pets at Koreshan State Park
Dogs are welcome to join you in most areas of the park. The exception to this is some of the historic buildings.
That said, dogs are allowed to enter the buildings situated around the Cast Iron Café and machine shop.
Camping at Koreshan State Park
If you are looking for overnight accommodation at the park there are 60 campsites available for visitors to stay at.
Of these, 48 are back-in style, sand or packed dirt RV sites, that come with hookups for water and either 30-amp or 50-amp electricity. The remaining 12 are tent-only sites.
While there are no hookups available for sewage, you will find a dump station at the campground. Guests can also use a generator at all times except during designated quiet hours.
Each site comes with their own picnic tables and fire rings. Four of them are ADA compliant paved sites. Mostly shaded, the sites are quite level and can accommodate RVs of around 40 feet in length.
Fire rings and picnic tables are located at each site for your enjoyment, but firewood cannot be brought into the campground. Firewood and ice are available at the Ranger’s Station.
Within the campground there are a couple of bathroom facilities, one of which is equipped with a laundry and showers. Kids will also enjoy the children’s playground located there.
Reservations at the campground can be made up to 11 months in advance. The maximum permitted length of stay is 14 consecutive nights.
Koreshan State Park
3800 Corkscrew Rd
Estero, FL 33928
Here is a good YouTube video with a walking tour of Koreshan State Park: