BEST AREAS FOR WILDERNESS CAMPING
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK
1,400,800 acres. This enormous park at the southern tip of Florida protects an outstanding subtropical wilderness. Due to the effects of development in southern Florida, it’s one of our most endangered National Parks. In addition, much of it was severely damaged in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew.
Large areas of the park are wet or under water, and it includes countless keys (small islands) offshore. There are pinelands, cypress and mangrove forests, hardwood hammocks (groves of trees), along with coastal and fresh water prairie.
Among the wildlife are alligator, crocodile, and the Florida panther, plus the manatee. The park is also famous for its exotic birdlife. Winter is the best time to visit, with summer inadvisable due to insects and the heat.
Activities: This National Park is especially suitable for canoeing, and includes some fine marked canoe routes. Most notable is the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway, which extends through much of the Everglades. Canoes may be rented in the park.
There are also many miles of hiking trails, which generally follow old roads, and provide easy walking over nearly level terrain. Trails are often wet during summer and fall.
Biking is possible on some of the trails and roads, as is horseback riding. Freshwater and saltwater fishing are permitted. Hunting is prohibited.
Camping Regulations: A backcountry camping permit is required, and may be obtained from a ranger station. Numerous established campsites are located throughout the park.
Many of the designated campsites consist of chickees, or raised wooden platforms which may only be reached by canoe or boat. Advance reservations are not available, and numbers of campers are restricted. Campfires and pets are prohibited.
Just a few sites are accessible by hikers, backpackers, or bikers. While camping is allowed at other than authorized sites, possibilities are very limited due to the extensive wet areas. Since hurricane damage in 1992 was extreme in some parts of the park, request up-to-date information before visiting.
For Further Information: Everglades National Park, P.O. Box 279, Homestead, FL 33030; (305)247-6211.