Everglades National Park
|Everglades National Park (James Randklev/Photographer's Choice/Getty)|
One of the best ways to experience the Everglades is to get out into it for an extended visit. With 156 miles (251 km) of canoe and walking trails and 48 designated backcountry campsites, opportunities for solitude are abundant.
Everglades National Park has three kinds of backcountry campsiteschickees, ground sites, and beach sites:
Chickees are located along interior rivers and bays where no dry land exists. They are elevated 10' x 12' wooden platforms with roofs, usually constructed on open water, well away from mangrove trees. A narrow walkway leads to a self-contained toilet. You'll need a freestanding tent, since stakes or nails are not allowed.
Miccosukee Indians describe a chickee as an open-air structure that allows wind to blow through for comfort on hot days and to keep insects away. Everglades backcountry chickees serve a similar purpose.
Ground sites are mounds of earth a few feet higher than the surrounding mangroves, located along interior bays and rivers. They tend to have more insects than chickees or beach sites.
Some ground sites are old Indian mounds. Coastal aboriginals, who lived here well before the Seminoles, constructed mounds of shell or soil as dry dwelling sites amidst the mangroves. Others, such as the Lopez River campsite and the Watson Place, were cleared by early settlers.
Beach sites are located on coastal shell beaches. During ideal conditions, insects may be scarce, but always be prepared for mosquitoes and no-see-ums (tiny biting flies), especially at sunrise and sunset. People in small craft should be aware that Gulf waters at beach sites can become extremely rough; seas can exceed three feet (1 m).
Sand beaches are often stabilized by tall, grassy plants called sea oats. Take care not to damage them. Sea turtles nest on beaches in late spring and summer. Avoid camping or building a fire where sea turtle nesting evidence exists. Many beach sites have no toilets. Bury human waste at least six inches (15 cm) below the surface or, preferably, pack it and toilet paper to the nearest toilet.
Most of south Florida's natural beach is built up from the shells of multitudes of marine organisms. While some shells are fragmented, many can be discovered completely intact. Some beaches, such as Highland Beach and Cape Sable, serve as essential nesting sites for the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).
|Campsite Name||Type of Site||No. of People||No. of Parties||No. of Nights||Toilet||Table||Dock|
|Cape Sable, East||Beach||60||15||7|
|Cape Sable, Middle||Beach||60||15||7|
|Cape Sable, Northwest||Beach||36||9||7|
|Carl Ross Key||Beach||12||4||2|
|East Clubhouse Beach||Beach||24||4||3|
|Ernest Coe ***||Ground||8||1||3|
|Hog Key **||Beach||8||2||2|
|Little Rabbit Key||Ground||12||4||2||yes||yes||yes|
|New Turkey Key||Beach||10||2||2||yes|
|North Nest Key||Beach||25||7||7||yes||yes|
|Pearl Bay ****||Chickee||6/6||1/1||1||yes||yes|
|Shark Point **||Ground||8||1||3||*|
|South Joe River||Chickee||6/6||1/1||1||yes||yes|
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication