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Ortona South Lock Campground: Moore Haven, Florida

Ortona South Lock Campground: The Belle of the Caloosahatchee

The Ortona campground is set along the 67-mile long Caloosahatchie River in Moore Haven. The Ortona Lock and Dam is part of the Okeechobee Waterway system and there you have front row seats to the lock system staying at the Ortona South Campground. The Caloosahatchee River was once a meandering river with its headwaters northwest of Lake Okeechobee. To provide flood control for surrounding counties and a navigable channel for steam boats from the lake to the Gulf of Mexico, dredging began on the Caloosahatchee in 1881. The Ortona Campground is run by the Army Corp of Engineers and boy is it a beauty.

It is spotless clean and all areas are neat and trimmed. They work hard to keep it that way. Restrooms and showers were immaculate and even had blue water in the toilets!! If you are looking for TOTAL peace and quiet this is the place for you.

The campground's terrain is flat and lined with tropical greenery, including the Sabal Palm, the state tree of Florida. With the Caloosahatchee River right in front of you and right behind you picturesque pastures, what could be better? The views are breathtaking really.

Although there is no swimming at the campground it's beauty makes up for that. It was very hot Tuesday and Wednesday and there is no relief from it. Every time I camp out I come home with a new item for my Amazon Wish List. This time I'm thinking an inflatable pool. The campground has Electric, Water, Covered Picnic Table, BBQ Pit and Fire Pit. There is nothing to buy at the campground. The campspots are gorgeous. I had spot #21 and I had my very own butterfly garden right by the fence behind my tent.

We had a nice storm and right after a glorious rainbow made so many butterflies come out. The best spots are #21 thru #30. There you have magnificent views of boats entering and leaving the locks.

There are cows across the river doing their thing and bunny rabbits are busy hopping and playing all thru the camp. After the rain they came out everywhere with no bother to anyone. There were several big gators in the river. Come evening fisherman show up in their bass boats to fish right before the lock.

Bring your pole for some catch and release fun. Catfish, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, and Tilapia are the most commonly caught fish at the large wooden pier at the campground. Snook are commonly caught at the small north end pier which is also accessible by walking across the dam from 7AM to 4PM.

So I took a ride to Labelle (10 miles away) to get some ice in the morning. I stopped in at a couple of spots and had a nice morning. The old growth trees in the area are just amazing. Everywhere you look these trees are eye-catching with hanging moss.

Stopped at Barron Park where the Swamp Cabbage Festival is held every February at LaBelle’s pretty, oak-shaded riverfront park. The cracker-style Swamp Cabbage Festival has taken place for 50 years on the last weekend of February and include its popular armadillo races. LaBelle celebrates the sabal palm and its heart — AKA swamp cabbage. This type of palm is a part of the scenic surroundings of LaBelle.

I saw an old historic firetruck named Betsy and just kind of meandered about for a couple of hours. I stopped in at the Harold P. Curtis Honey House but it was closed (open Thurs thru Sunday). I wanted to get some Gator Sauce which is fabulous in your chili. So if you go there grab a bottle of that. There are many varieties of honey to choose from--there’s mangrove, unfiltered sea grape, palmetto, orange blossom, and wildflower honey.

So this afternoon I got on my bike and walked it over the lock. The bridge is open from 7:00 to 4:00 daily. I wanted to go have lunch at the Ortona Tavern. So I'm riding along and it was so hot and I'm almost there and I remember that I left my wallet in the car!! OMG. I was so bummed out because there was no way I was going back for my wallet and then doing it all over again. I included a picture from online below but it's easy navigating but bring money.

After my non-lunch with my bike, the Camp Host Terry came by to visit just when a huge yacht showed up. So we rode in her golf cart right to the lock and watched it go thru. Terry is very friendly and if you need anything just ask her. Terry is also a solo woman camper.

So, Thumb's Up to the Cortona South Lock Campground.


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