Less than 30 miles away from Miami, you can find the Florida Everglades - 1.5 million acres of beautiful wetlands, home to a whole host of animal and plant species. This stunning subtropical wilderness is a wonder to behold, and something that should definitely be on your bucket list when planning a trip to the Magic City. You can access the Everglades by car - but can you camp there? Read on to find out!
The short answer is yes: you can camp at the Everglades. It is one of the best U.S National Parks, and there are two official ‘front country’ campgrounds here. They are both drive-in locations. These campgrounds are known as Flamingo Campground and Long Pine Key Campground. Both campsites can accommodate tents and RVs. You can find out more about Everglades camping at both of these sites below…
Complete with showers, dump stations, grills and picnic tables as well as its own amphitheater, Flamingo Campground is located on a stunning open fields. A gorgeous breeze comes off the Florida Bay here, and it is the most popular of the two Everglades camping sites. Bring your own tent or RV, or reserve one of the amazing safari-style eco tents: complete with electricity, fans and a small private deck, this is the perfect option if you’re packing light on your trip to Miami and the Everglades!
Flamingo Campground is located near both the Christian Point Trail and the Coastal Prairie Trail. If you want to catch the sunrise on either of these trails, this is the perfect place to spend the night beforehand. You can walk to the campground from the parking lot, or drive right up to the campsite - reservations are recommended for drive-in spots and RVs. There are 157 plots, at a cost of $25-45 per night. With incredible views and lush warm air circulating throughout the camping ground, it is the perfect place for making Everglades memories with your travel party.
Long Pine Key Campground
You can bring tents or RVs here, although there are no water or electricity hook ups at individual camping plots. There is a group site which accommodates up to 15 people, and 108 ‘individual sites’ for up to six people. Prices start at $25 per night, with the group site costing $35 per night. Reservations are recommended for RVs, but tent sites are first-come, first-served. This is the smaller of the two camping grounds at the Everglades National Park, and is definitely the most basic - but it is the first site you’ll reach from the Homestead Entrance, making it more accessible. The campsite has cold water showers. As well as this, every plot has a fire pit, grill stand and picnic table.
Located adjacent to the Long Pine Key Trail itself, this is great for somewhere to sleep before exploring this articular part of the wetlands. There is a lake here which is great for fishing, which is permitted; don't swim in it, though, because alligators are pretty common around these parts! The water means there is a lovely evening breeze, perfect for cooling down after a long day of walking around and exploring the Everglades. Camping here should definitely be on your bucket list!
Other Everglades camping options
As well as the two front country campgrounds, you can experience backcountry Everglades camping in the wilderness. The best time of year for this is during December - March, as the winter months bring with them a much more temperate climate. The weather is a lot clearer, and you’ll get to really enjoy the serenity of the ecosystem without the annoyance of mosquitos and sticky humidity. Jump in a canoe or small boat to head out into the wilderness, and try your hand at wild camping.
There are 45 designated wilderness campsites throughout the Everglades National Park. They are varied, from platform camping grounds known as chickees, to ground sites on little islands. You must camp at one of these, rather than just in any old spot throughout the park. With beach campsites accommodating up to 60, and chickees only fitting six, you really can tailor your Everglades camping experience to suit you.
When camping in the wilderness in the Everglades National Park, be sure to bring plenty of water with you. These backcountry campsites don’t have clean water sources, and often don’t have toilets either - be sure to respect the wilderness and take any rubbish with you, as well as human waste. This is just the way it is with wild camping, and Everglades camping is no exception! You’ll need a permit, which costs $15 during peak season but is free off-season.
What is a chickee?
Along with the two front country campgrounds and the beach/ground campsites throughout the wilderness, the Everglades has what are known as ‘chickees’. Located above water, they are 10’ x 12’ wooden platforms each with an attached porta-potty. You’ll need a boat or other type of water craft to reach a chickee, so bring some rope with you to secure this while you’re sleeping. Free-standing tents are a must, too, as there is nowhere to tether a tent on a chickee. This is an amazing and unique Everglades camping experience, and something you’ll remember forever - definitely one to add to your Florida to-do list…
Everglades camping is a wonderful way to spend the night. You’ll get to see and hear plenty of nature, and the campsites give you a brilliant base for getting up early to explore the park before it gets too hot or busy. So can you camp in the Everglades? Yes, you can - and hopefully this City Wonders blog post has been helpful in explaining how it all works. With our range of Everglades tours, there are so many ways to have an amazing time exploring this real American gem!