Where and How to Go Camping in the Florida Everglades

We talk a lot about the crazy animals you can see around the Everglades National Park area, so why on earth would someone want to camp there? The answer is simple: the Everglades are stunning. They have some of the most beautiful wilderness camping sites in all of America.

When done properly, you will be in no danger from the wildlife, and you’ll be able to soak in the incredible sights and sounds of nature. There are some things you should know if you’re planning a camping trip to this particular location.

Plan Your Everglades Camping Trip

Safely exploring a wilderness requires a lot of careful planning and preparation. Here are some things to consider:

Seasons: Most of the camping options in the Everglades are open year-round, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a best time to visit. The Summer, for example, is June through October, and because of the severe storms, heat, and unmanageable number of mosquitoes, it won’t be the most comfortable time to visit. Instead, plan more for the winter months, which are December through April. You will have a much more pleasant time.

Even so, be sure to pack plenty of bug spray!

Size of your group: Each standard campsite will only accommodate six people. If you have more people than that, you’ll need to either book two campsites or seek out a campground that offers group sites.

How you want to get to your campsite: Within the Everglades, there are campgrounds that you can drive to, such as RV campsites, and then there are tent sites you can hike, kayak, or boat your way to. These wilderness campsites, while providing you with a deeper, more natural experience of the Everglades, are a little more difficult to get to. Consider who will be in your group as well as the size.

Camping in Everglades National Park

There are several different kinds of camping you can do in the park.

Tent camping exposes you to the raw elements, so be prepared to “rough it.” Pack light, but pack enough. You’ll need a solid tent with a good rain fly, rain gear, warm sleeping bags, bug spray, and anything else you would take on a normal camping trip.

Chikee camping is a very cool and adventurous way to see the Everglades. Chickee huts are elevated camping platforms that usually have a thatched roof and open sides. You’ll still need a free-standing tent since nails and stakes aren’t allowed, but you can enjoy an enclosed toilet located on the platform’s walkway. Since no fires are permitted, you might want to bring a gas stove.

When the weather is right, beach camping is the way to go. It can be lots of fun and remote without being inside the woods. You’ll often need to rent kayaks or canoes to reach these sights, so keep that in mind. Come packed, but only leave your footprints behind. No fires are permitted at these beach sites.

For more information about the sites and/or reservations, contact Everglades Guest Services.

Long Pine Key Campground at Everglades National Park

Lone Pine Key Campgrounds is one of the sites that’s only open seasonally from November to May. It is one of the two frontcountry (sites you can drive to) camping options run by Flamingo Adventures Concession.

RV campers and tent campers are welcome, though there are certain campsites set aside for tents only. The RV sites can be reserved in advance, but the tent sites are first come, first served.

For each campsite, there are allowed two tents or one RV and one tent. A maximum of eight people and two vehicles are allowed. If you need something bigger, the group site is for tents only, but it can accommodate up to 15 people.

This one is a bit further away from our base here at Everglades Holiday park, being 1 hour and 28 minutes away.

Flamingo Campground

The Flamingo campground is the other of the two drive-in campgrounds run by Flamingo Adventures Concession. It’s accessible from the Everglades National Park entrance in Homestead.

This campground has solar-heated showers, two dump stations, grills, picnic tables, an amphitheater for seasonal Ranger programs, and a whole world of canoe and hiking trails. Enjoy open areas cooled by gentle breezes from Florida Bay.

Everglades Chickee Camping

If you’re looking for something a little easier than setting your tent out on an elevated Chickee platform, a Chickee cabin may be right up your alley. These huts have thatched roofs and screened-in sides to allow air to move freely through.

Many travelers don’t have the gear necessary to camp in the Everglades, but they still want to experience something unique and true to the Everglades. For those travelers, these huts are perfect. They offer stunning views and are typically easy to access with showers and restrooms nearby.

Planning for Camping? Understanding Permits and Making a Reservation

Backcountry camping permits are required for all overnight camping except in auto campgrounds or if you’re sleeping in a boat. A backcountry camping permit can be obtained through Recreation.gov.

You are no longer required to carry a physical permit, but you will need either a copy in some form. Either print out your confirmation email or save a digital copy that’s easy to access.

Your wilderness camping permit will cost you a $21 administrative fee plus an additional $2 per person, per night.

What should you bring on your camping trip?

When you’re visiting has a lot to do with what you need to bring.

During the dry season, the Everglades are mild and pleasant. Temperatures average from 77°F to 53°F. Bring bug repellant, head nets, and/or bug jackets to best avoid the problematic insects. Make sure you have plenty of water, wear cool, loose-fitting clothing, and sun protection (hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc…)

During the wet season, as the name implies, you’ll need plenty of waterproof everything. Also, bring everything else you have in the dry season, such as sun protection and bug repellant.

Tents and RV Camping

Camping in the Everglades is fun and safe partially due to the regulations that are in place. Please take special care to clean up after yourself and don’t leave anything behind when you leave.

Prices for individual sites vary by site. Come prepared with a card to pay for the necessary passes or make sure you’re booked in advance.

Keep in mind that the Big Cypress National Preserve is separate from Everglades National Park, so there are some differences such as hookups, prices, and regulations. Monument Lake Campground, for example, has different maximum stay lengths depending on the season.

Free Entrance Days

A standard entrance pass is $20-$35. An annual entrance pass is $70.

If you want free entrance, you can come on these days:

  • Monday, January 15/Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Saturday, April 20/First Day of National Park Week
  • Wednesday, June 19/Juneteenth
  • Sunday, August 4/The Great American Outdoors Act
  • Saturday, September 28/National Public Lands Day
  • Monday, November 11/Veterans Day

Burns Lake Campground

Burns Lake Campground is in the Big Cypress National Preserve. It’s primitive camping with no running water. Vault toilets are available and this site provides daytime use of the picnic area.

Midway Campground

Another beautiful Big Cypress campground, Midway offers restrooms, drinking water, a dump station, and the RV sites allow electric hookups.

The maximum length of stay for any camping activity within the national preserve is 180 days in a 12-month period.

Pinecrest Group Camping (Loop Road)

This site is another one meant for primitive camping. Don’t come unless you’re ready to rough it! It does have picnic tables and fire rings, but there are no covered picnic areas, toilets, water, or hookups. There is minimal shade from the surrounding trees.

The maximum amount of days allowed for any camping activity within the Big Cypress National Preserve is 180 days within a 12-month period.

When to Visit?

Due to the fewer bugs, lower temperatures, and active, thriving wildlife, the dry season is considered the best time to visit the Everglades. From November to April, you can enjoy wildlife viewing opportunities and Ranger-led programs.

Dry season is truly the best time to see Everglades National Park in all its glory.

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