Everglades National Park

Backcountry Camping
Gorp.com
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 campsites—chickees, ground sites, and beach sites:

Chickees
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
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
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
Alligator Creek Ground 8 3 2 *
Broad River Ground 10 3 2 yes yes yes
Camp Lonesome Ground 10 3 3 yes yes yes
Canepatch Ground 12 4 3 yes yes yes
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
Clubhouse Beach Beach 24 4 3
Darwin's Place Ground 8 2 3 yes yes
East Clubhouse Beach Beach 24 4 3
Ernest Coe *** Ground 8 1 3
Graveyard Creek Ground 12 4 3 yes yes yes
Harney River Chickee 6 1 1 yes yes
Hell's Bay Chickee 6/6 1/1 1 yes yes
Highland Beach Beach 24 4 3
Hog Key ** Beach 8 2 2
Ingraham *** Ground 8 1 3
Joe River Chickee 6/6 1/1 1 yes yes
Lane Bay Chickee 6 1 1 yes yes
Lard Can Ground 10 4 2 yes
Little Rabbit Key Ground 12 4 2 yes yes yes
Lopez River Ground 12 3 2 yes yes
Lostman's Five Ground 15 3 3 yes yes yes
Mormon Key Beach 12 2 3
New Turkey Key Beach 10 2 2 yes
North Nest Key Beach 25 7 7 yes yes
North River Chickee 6 1 1 yes yes
Oyster Bay Chickee 6/6 1/1 1 yes yes
Pavillion Key Beach 20 4 3 yes
Pearl Bay **** Chickee 6/6 1/1 1 yes yes
Picnic Key Beach 16 3 3 yes
Plate Creek Chickee 6 1 1 yes yes
Rabbit Key Beach 8 2 2 yes
Roberts River Chickee 6/6 1/1 1 yes yes
Rodgers River Chickee 6/6 1/1 1 yes yes
Shark Point ** Ground 8 1 3 *
Shark River Chickee 6 1 1 yes yes
South Joe River Chickee 6/6 1/1 1 yes yes
Sunday Bay Chickee 6/6 1/1 1 yes yes
Sweetwater Chickee 6/6 1/1 1 yes yes
Tiger Key Beach 12 3 3
Turkey Key Beach 12 3 3
Watson's Place Ground 20 5 2 yes yes yes
Watson River Chickee 6 1 1 yes yes
Willy Willy Ground 10 3 3 yes yes yes


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