Camping In The Everglades
Are you a nature lover? Do you enjoy exploring and being in the great outdoors and going on camping trips? Then we highly recommend camping in the Florida Everglades!
Explore any part of the Ten Thousand Islands, and you will feel more connected with the natural world than ever before.
If you love spending time in the natural world and the thought of camping for at least one night amid Florida’s most diverse ecosystem, then Everglades camping will satisfy your outdoor soul. But of course, we would suggest that you stay more than overnight because of the many activities you can do while you are there. You will need a minimum of two days to try most of them.
Everglades Is US’ Largest Subtropical Wilderness
The best Everglades camping lies south of Alligator Alley in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress Preserve. Because of its vastness and the wildlife it houses, the Everglades has been recognized as a World Heritage Site, a Wetland of National Importance, and an International Biosphere Reserve.
Everglades National Park is located in the southern tip of Florida and is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. It’s a prominent spot but only one part of a massive ecosystem that begins near Orlando in the Kissimmee River watershed and reaches 175 miles south of Florida Bay.
Everglades as we know today is the product of years worth of evolution and mother nature’s craftmanship. The Everglades were formed from the water that flowed freely over the low-lying lands that created ponds, sloughs, and marshes. As a result, the diversity of living organisms developed a delicately balanced ecosystem.
Everglades National Park Is A Conservation Measure
The nomads-turned-settlers discovered the area and saw the land as potential farmland. So they began transforming the wetlands to be a source of livelihood, but it came with devastating effects on the natural environment. Hence in 1947, Everglades National Park was created to conserve 1.5 million acres of wildlife.
Fun fact, fugitives, pirates, and smugglers have also once made Everglades their homes in the past. Today, you would be surprised to know that some still reside in the area. But most are situated out of the public eye and are in the backcountry swamps accessible only by airboats or swamp buggies and oft-flooded unpaved roads.
Everglades National Park Vs. Big Cypress National Preserve
Today, camping in Everglades National Park will make you feel like going back in time. The richness of flora and fauna distributed across an enormous area seems surreal, like the ones you only see on TV. The bodies of water and landforms home to many animals will surely entice you to go camping in the Everglades for a weekend.
In the extensive land area of Everglades National Park, there are two options of developed campgrounds you can choose from. Meanwhile, the nearby Big Cypress has a half-dozen more campgrounds. This excludes the primitive backcountry sites accessible only by boat or a strenuous hike through often wet and swamping trails. Visitors can book Big Cypress at four campgrounds: Monument Lake Campground, Burns Lake Campground, Pinecrest (group camping only), and Midway campground.
Between the two, if you want a complete front-country camping experience, staying in the Everglades National Park is the way to go. As mentioned, it has two campground options, the Long Pine Key Campground and Flamingo Campground. Be reminded that the Long Pine Key Campground is closed during the summer months.
It is discouraged to visit in the summer because of the scorching heat and humid conditions. But it turns into a wonderland for observing wildlife as the humidity lifts in winter. You will be able to spot more than 300 species of birds here that will settle down from winter’s invasion.
Guests at wilderness campsites must have a wilderness camping permit which is issued at Flamingo or the Gulf Coast Vistors Centers the day before or the day of your trip.
The Long Pine Key Campground
Going to Long Pine Key Campground is a short drive from Everglades National Park entrance and close to the Homestead Visitor Center. Because of this close starting point, it saves campers miles and gas from driving to Flamingo Campground while still getting enough dose of the Everglades. There are no hookups for RV campsites in the area, but each site is provided with a fire ring and picnic tables.
The best thing about going to Long Pine is that it is only a few miles from the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm. The Anhinga Trail will let you experience something only campers at Long Pine Key can have. This is where campers can observe how the alligators behave after dark using their flashlights; the alligators’ eyes glow red when shone.
Other nearby attractions are the scenic Long Pine Key Lake and the 7-mile-long Long Pine Key trail. The latter is a favorite among fat-tire cyclists, while the former has been a crowd favorite in general because it gets everyone mesmerized every time by its wonderful sight.
It is worth noting for first-time campers that the area only offers cold showers, there are no hot showers in the area, but the bathrooms are clean and convenient to use. Also, do not expect to get a great cellphone signal anywhere; there is hardly any. Finally, you cannot buy firewood once you get there, but you can always forage for dead wood and kindling.
Amenities at the campsites include restrooms, cold showers, dump stations, and freshwater fill-ups. All tent site spaces are on a first-come, first-serve, and campsite fees are $25 for regular campsites and $35 for group sites.
The Flamingo Campground
Now we discuss the more comfortable campground option in the Everglade National Park, The Flamingo Campground. The Flamingo campsite is located at the end of the road when you enter the gates of Everglades National Park. So, approximately, it will take you 40 miles south to get to the Flamingo Campground. But the long drive is so worth it when you arrive at the location.
The Flamingo Campground can accommodate both tents and RV camping in its 234 drive-up sites. Reservations are unnecessary but will come in handy if you want campsites with electric hookups that are $20 per night, while campsites with no electric hookups are $30 per night.
Many of the campsites have a scenic view of Florida Bay because it is situated in the southernmost of Florida. Unlike in the Long Pine Key campground, the summertime is an excellent time to go camping in this part of Everdale National Park, especially if you prefer fewer people around. It’s highly recommended to bring bug spray and jackets to enjoy the Park, especially during the summer. Visitors can purchase all essential items such as the bug spray at the Marina store.
Flamingo has tons of spaces for tent camping but also offers some glamping opportunities. Drive-through campsites in A Loop (no hookups) and T Loop (electric only) are available.
The campground sites at the T loop campground include some limited electrical hookups and a pull-through parking area. There is no water at the 30A-20A-50A pedestals. There are filling stations next to the dump station.
Flamingo offers incredible glamping opportunities that allow visitors to experience the beautiful Everglades and the Florida Bay view with added comfort. The eco tents with furnishing are available from November through mid-April only. The eco tent camping platforms are elevated to keep visitors away from the mud, water, and critters.
Things To Do in the Everglades National Park
The two campgrounds of Everglades National Park collectively comprise the third largest Park in the lower 48 states. It spans 2,400 square miles in total. With this land area, there is an activity for individuals, groups, or families to enjoy.
The diverse landscapes let you enjoy various adventures while camping in the ultimate wilderness ranging from canoeing, hiking, biking, kayaking, fresh and saltwater fishing. Everglades National Park is a large open field with strong breezes coming off the bay. The Flamingo area, in particular, has lots of hiking and canoe trails.
Aside from the activities mentioned above, you can also try other things on your visit. For example, birdwatching is one of the most rewarding activities in the Everglades. The vast skies allow for easy spotting of great blue herons or an entire flock of roseate spoonbills.
A very unique and satisfactory use of the massive space is to do Geocaching. Geocaching is like an outdoor treasure hunt. The game’s objective is for players to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and share their experiences online.
Fishing and Boat Tours
Visitors can explore the Everglades through the many boat rentals available. Most people, when looking to explore the mangroves, opt for kayaks and canoes. Pontoons and skiff boat rentals are also available.
While visiting the Everglades, everyone should experience fishing at the fantastic national parks. Enjoy breathtaking views and wildlife while catching the most popular shallow water sport fish on a guided fishing trip.
The National Parks campgrounds are very close to Homestead, which provides some incredible peacock bass fishing trips.
Everyone should experience a day camping in the Everglades, whether at RV campsites, Tent Sites, Chickee Huts, or Eco tents. However, get the most out of Florida camping in the Everglades by going boating and fishing. Since most of the National Park is only accessible by crossing bodies of water, boating is a popular way to experience the whole of Everglades. So make sure to bring your boat or take one of the tours that leave from Flamingo and the Gulf Coast to explore the Park’s wild wonders fully.
To maximize the camping experience in the Everglades, there is no better way than to go on a comprehensive tour. It may sound simple, but a guided tour through the Park can make your explorations more meaningful. In addition, the local naturalist tour guide can take you on exciting sightseeing programs that you will only experience if you go with the experts.