CAMPSITES ARE LISTED HERE IN THE ORDER THEY ARE MOST LIKELY ENCOUNTERED BY THE PADDLER OR
BOATER WHILE NAVIGATING THE WATERWAYS:
***Launching from Everglades City (Barron River) or Chokoloskee
LOPEZ RIVER CAMPSITE:
A ground campsite just 5 miles by water from
the boat ramp at Chokoloskee, easy to find (Lopez' old house foundation remains visible from the river). This
site has a large hard ground area and room to dock several boats or pull kayaks and canoes ashore. Lopez Campsite is
almost entirely shaded by trees, and it has a table and a toilet. You will not be bothered by the small rats which
seem to live at this campsite and show up at night.
CROOKED CREEK CHICKEE:
double chickee, this campsite is 7 miles from Chokoloskee in shallow water not far from the entrance to Crooked
Creek just off Lopez River about a mile up from Lopez River Campsite. This chickee replaced Sunday Bay Chickee
which was dismantled in 2011.
A ground campsite 16
miles by water from the boat ramp at Chokoloskee, the site is west of the marked Wilderness Waterway by 1.5 miles on
Chatham River. It has a medium sized cleared camping area and it is slightly overgrown at times. It has a dock, a toilet and
two tables. Watson's Place is an interesting site for many reasons, including its history (the infamous Ed Watson lived
here). Some remains of heavy farming equipment from Watson's time are at the site.
A double chickee on open water, this campsite is 16.5 miles from Chokoloskee, east of the
Wilderness Waterway by over a mile. It is to the left of Sweetwater Bay, not on the Bay, and it is behind an island
in the middle of a small body of water. It has a toilet. It was rebuilt not long age.
A well cleared, elevated ground campsite with a natural landing for boats, 17.5
miles by water from Chokoloskee on the marked Wilderness Waterway, Darwin's Place is a medium sized, partly shaded area,
with a table and toilet, surrounded by forest. This site, like Watson's Place and Lostman's Five, has an interesting
history. This campsite is not very private because boaters pass by unexpectedly at any time since it is right on the Wilderness
Waterway. However, in recent years some of the jungle behind the Campsite has been cut away to make more room
for caming. PLATE CREEK CHICKEE:
A single chickee along the Wilderness Waterway with a large
dock 23 miles from Chokoloskee, this campsite is attached to a mangrove island on Plate Creek Bay. In order to reach this
chickee from Chokoloskee, one needs to pass through Alligator Creek, cross the large Alligator Bay which can experience rough
waters on a windy day, and go through Plate Creek (tides reverse direction). The chickee has a toilet. It is less than one
mile from Lostman's Five Campsite.
LOSTMAN'S FIVE CAMPSITE:
campsite with an excellent dock and a toilet, 24 miles from Chokoloskee on Lostman's Five Bay, this medium sized, partly
shaded campsite is used often by campers and backcountry fishermen. Recently a camping platform was contructed at Lostman's
Five since it is on low ground. Paddlers from Chokoloskee Island may reach this site on their second day on the water,
or on their first day if they are Olympic athletes.
WILLY WILLY CAMPSITE:
miles from Chokoloskee Island, off the Wilderness Waterway by 2 miles, Willy Willy is difficult to find, partly because the
last two miles are entirely unmarked and require several navigational decisions. The marine chart does not give a complete
picture of the route. Shortly after entering Rocky Creek, there exists a turn to the left, a waterway not on the chart which
leads back in the direction of Big Lostmans Bay. Willy Willy Campsite is entirely shaded, it has a dock and toilet. It has
a large ground area, some of which will flood in heavy rains. The remoteness of Willy Willy makes it attractive to serious
outdoorsmen. One can hike into the woods a ways from this site.
ROGER'S RIVER CHICKEE:
A double chickee on open water, this campsite is 35.5 miles from Chokoloskee set back on Roger's River Bay,
just a mile west of the Wilderness Waterway. Roger's River Bay is a large body of water. It is an excellent site to camp.
The sun's rising and setting and water reflections are especially beautiful as viewed from the chickee. This double chickee
of course has a toilet. It is a campsite worthy of return trips.
BROAD RIVER CAMPSITE:
44.5 miles from Chokoloskee by way of the Wilderness Waterway but only 33 miles by way of the Gulf from Chokoloskee, the
Broad River Campsite is a large, shaded location on high ground with a dock, an outhouse and two picnic tables. The
site makes for an excellent evening campfire atmosphere. It is less than 4 miles from Highland Beach on the Gulf Coast. It
is also less than a mile from the northern point of entry to the The Nightmare. The Nightmare is a shallow but
marked creek navigable only on high tide. Paddlers, if they dare, can navigate The Nightmare to
reach Harney River to the south, thus avoiding the Gulf.
The most "remote" backcountry ground campsite, 40.5 miles from Chokoloskee and 3 miles east of the
Wilderness Waterway on Broad River,
Camp Lonesome is medium sized and shaded by trees, and it
has a dock, a toilet and a table. It is a lonesome place.
***The following are Gulf Coast/Ten
Thousand Islands Campsites within the Everglades National Park--all ground sites, mostly sandy beaches, except for Kingston
Key which has a chickee.
Three sites near Everglades City (Barron River) and Chokoloskee Island:
KINGSTON KEY CHICKEE:
A double chickee all on one platform, just 7 miles out Indian Key
Pass from Everglades City, this campsite has a special view of both the Ten Thousand Islands and the Gulf. It has a toilet.
It is two miles from Picnic Key and Tiger Key Campsites to the north on the other side of Indian Key. Kingston Key
Chickee is low on the water at high tide, which means that one can get wet with splash if the moon is full.
PICNIC KEY AND TIGER KEY:
These adjacent ground campsites on the Gulf are 7 and 8 miles
from Everglades City respectively. Points of departure are the Barron River Resort boat ramp across the bridge as one enters
Everglades City and the Ranger Station (for paddlers only) at the far end of Everglades City. Picnic Key has a latrine, Tiger
Key has a woods. The depth at Picnic Key near the beach is shallow, and the beach is sandy, a fine sand which gets into everything.
One cannot walk in the water in bare feet because of sharp stones and shells. Picnic Key has a long and picturesque beach
on the Gulf side. Tiger Key has an idyllic, sandy campsite high off the water on the northeastern side. Tiger key has large
mud flats which empty at low tide on the Gulf side. Fishing is excellent in the deep water alongside Tiger Key.
***The following are ground campsites on the Gulf Coast/Ten Thousand Islands (inside the Everglades National
Park) from Chokoloskee Island south to Highland Beach 30 miles down the Coast. Often boaters and paddlers launch from Chokoloskee
Island and Everglades City (Barron River) to go south along the coast to these campsites:
A beach campsite 6 miles from Chokoloskee Island, through a route in the Ten Thousand Islands and
out Rabbit Key Pass, this campsite on the Gulf has a toilet and room to walk around somewhat, especially at low tide. The
surrounding water is shallow even at high tide. A very good one day trip for paddlers.
This large island with beaches on all sides, beyond Rabbit Key by 4 miles, is a favorite camping spot
for boaters and paddlers. It is only 10 miles from the Chokoloskee boat ramp, but it is a challenging paddle because of its
location on open water. Pavilion Key is excellent for photography as well as camping. Expect visit by racoons at night who
will open your cooler by any means if outside the tent.
campsite 14.5 miles from Chokoloskee, this location, the next down the Coast from Pavilion Key, with high ground above the
waterline, is a beautiful place to camp. Mormon Key can be circumnavigated by foot, even though parts of the shallow areas
are very sharp due to shells and parts are soft and muddy. There are numerous small "beaches", some shaded by trees,
on the shoreline. Photographic panoramas from Mormon Key are excellent, and fishing in the area is good.
TURKEY KEY AND TURKEY KEY:
Ground campsites 16.5 and 17.5 miles from Chokolosky, further down the
Coast from Mormon Key, these campsites are set back slightly from the open Gulf. New Turkey Key Campsite is on the back side
of the island where an elevated strip of sand is a wonderful location for camping and fishing. Birds post on piling a few
yards behind the island, and they feed on a long strip of sand on the front side of he island. Turkey Key, a grassy campsite,
is a mile southeast of New Turkey Key. These sites do not have toilets.
ground campsite 22 miles from Chokoloskee, not far from New Turkey Key, Hog key is small and has no toilet, so care must be
taken where one pitches his/her tent. The campsite is surrounded by trees, and the beach itself faces north, providing little
or no view of sunrises or sunsets. Almost no area is O.K. for hiking.
LOSTMAN'S RIVER BASIN:
25 miles south of Chokoloskee, beyond Hog Key, the campsite called South Lostman's is mostly washed away.
As an official campsite it was removed by the Park Service following Hurricaine Andrew.
is on an island at the mouth of the River, the campsite a tiny strip of sand on the southern end of the island. On the northern
bank of Lostman's River basin, an apparently abandoned Ranger Station, visited from time to time by Park rangers, is marked
on the older charts and still stands on elevated ground behind a broken up old dock in shallow water.
A few miles from Lostman's River, Highland Beach on the Gulf is narrow and sandy, and it
stretches as far as the eye can see. It is 30-some miles from Chokoloskee, and it is usually empty of people. It has no toilet
or other signs of human habitation. One can walk inland some distance from the beach. In some places, the water is shallow
for a long distance from the beach. Birds, dolphins and a multitude of wildlife feed in the shallow water at all hours of
the day and night.
Highland Beach is just 4 miles from the Broad River Campsite up Broad River, which
ends where this beautiful sandy beach begins.
***FLAMINGO and Ingraham Highway: Flamingo, on Florida
Bay, is the Park outpost on the southern end of Florida's mainland reached by only one road, Ingraham Highway. Flamingo's
Buttonwood Canal allows for entry to the inside waterways of the Everglades and the Wilderness Watrway. Just short of Flamingo
on Ingraham Highway are Hell's Bay Canoe Trail, a narrow but popular paddler's waterway which leads westward, and
West Lake, the first leg of waterways which go east and eventually come out on Florida Bay.
Highway, the Park road from the Visitor's Center near Florida City to Flamingo, is a 45 minute ride by car. The road itself
is important for its fascinating view of the southern end of the Everglades "River of Grass".
picturesque, unique and interesting in itself, resembles a small town, but it is basically a Park outpost on Florida Bay.
It has boat ramps, a Ranger Station, a convenience store, a resturant, a book store, a motel, hiking areas and camping areas
on Florida Bay.
Hell's Bay Canoe Trail: The launch site for Hell's Bay Canoe Trail begins
as a shaded opening in the woods and grass alongside the road. The Trail is identified by a sign, but cars speeding by would
hardly notice the obscure dock from which paddlers enter the Trail. The Trail is a wonderland of nature, full of wildlife.
It is fully marked (markers every few yards). The water at times is replete with sediment and aromatic. Hell's Bay Canoe
Trail is mostly fresh water and has little tidal effect since it is far from the Gulf. Motors are not allowed.
***The following four campsites are reached by paddling the Hell's Bay Canoe Trail:
Lard Can Campsite is the first of these four campsites to be found when one emerges from the
shaded, jungle canoe trail onto more open water with different vegetation. The chart shows the campsite but not the canoe
trail, which makes Lard Can hard to find. Lard Can is a ground campsite with a toilet but with just enough cleared area for
a few tents.
PEARL BAY CHICKEE:
Perl Bay Chickee, one mile further in from
Lard Can, is a double chickee with a toilet. Pearl Bay Chickee deviates somewhat from the waterway route to Hell's Bay
from Lard Can. The Pearl Bay Chickee is on open water and situated at the far end of Pearl Bay, a medium sized bay.
HELL'S BAY CHICKEE:
Hell's Bay Chickee, another two miles in, is quite difficult
to find, because it is behind mangroves and not on the larger part of the Bay. This double chickee with toilet is on open
water. Like most Everglades sites, it is likely to be visited by a curious gator from time to time. It is geographically near
Whitewater Bay, and with considerable effort one can navigate to Whitewater Bay from Hell's Bay.
Lane Bay Chickee, a mile north of Hell's Bay Chickee, Lane Bay Chickee is a single
chickee with a toilet, and it is built up against the mangroves. It is extremely hard to find due to the many twists and turns
of the connecting waterways in the area, which is spotted with mangrove islands. Lane Bay leads west to Lane River which leads
down Roberts River and eventually to Whitewater Bay.
West Lake: Another canoe trail is accessed from
the West Lake boat ramp, newly renovated, also alongside Ingraham Highway. Motors are allowed on West Lake, which is 3.2 miles
long, but not allowed in the creeks and bays which lead to campsites.
***The following campsites are
reached by entering at West Lake:
ALLIGATOR CREEK CAMPSITE:
8.5 miles of paddling
the inside route from Ingraham Highway at West Lake near Flamingo will bring a camper to the Alligator Creek Campsite, a ground
site in view of Garfield Bight and Florida Bay. The paddle is slow in places, which means that four hours on the water should
be anticipated. The route has occasional markers, but navigation (the marine chart) is necessary. Sometimes water is so shallow
that paddlers have to struggle to find the deeper water (deep as in 8 inches). Mangrove Creek, which begins at the eastern,
end of West Lake, is jungle-like, as are other creeks on route which lead ultimately to Alligator Creek and the Campsite.
A panther--or was it a deer--was sited in January 2001 on Mangrove Creek. Alligator Creek Campsite is a few feet off the water,
and it offers a peek through the trees at beautiful, shallow Garfield Bight. The site has a gigantic, open, green field. One
must be careful not to get hit by a leaping fish on Garfield Bight. For bird watchers, Garfield Bight near this Campsite is
as good as it gets. The trip back to Flamingo by way of Florida Bay is longer than the inside route, and Gardield Bight is
SHARK POINT CAMPSITE:
This ground campsite is just two
miles south of Alligator Creek Campsite, reached one of two ways--by traveling directly north of Shark Point along the coast
of Garfield Bight, or by paddling the inland route. Alligator Creek Campsite is discussed below under Florida Bay sites east
***The following beach campsites are reached departing from Flamingo on Florida Bay going
west out the channel toward the Gulf:
EAST CLUBHOUSE BEACH:
The first beach
campsite outside of the immediate vicinity of Flamingo going west is East Clubhouse Beach, 4 miles from Flamingo. One passes
small islands called Bradley Key and Curry Key on the way. However, water around these keys at low tide is extremely shallow,
so it is best to stay a few hundred yards away from land until arrival. East Clubhouse Beach has a large green field behind
it, but hiking is not comfortable due to the underbrush. The beach itself is narrow and made of clay rather than sand. Thus,
East Clubhouse Beach is not ideal for camping.
further out the channel, 7 miles from Flamingo, is Clubhouse Beach, which is more sandy but still small, and the water is
The last beach campsite going west from Flamingo still
on Florida Bay but bordering on the Gulf is East Cape, three miles from Clubhouse Beach and 10 miles from Flamingo. There
is a very shallow area in the middle of the channel before approaching the entrance to Lake Ingraham, which is not far from
East Cape. Boaters can get stuck if they do not go around this area, so check the chart.
is large, sandy, and beautiful. Because it is positioned where the shoreline turns north, it has an excellent view of sunrises
and sunsets. The water is deeper and the current can be strong at this campsite. Pilings in the water are evident.
Leaving Florida Bay behind, four miles from East Cape and 14 miles from
Flamingo on the Gulf Coast, is Middle Cape, another large, sandy campsite. It has an interesting whirlpool type formation
on the sand filled with water where the beach reaches a point.
Boaters should know that unless a boat
is properly anchored, the incoming tide will leave a boat high on the sand. Then, when the tide comes back in, the boat, embedded
in the sand, may fill with water, due to the angle of the beach. The best solution is to arrive by kayak or canoe!
Beyond Middle Cape, and quite near Middle Cape is an outlet to Lake Ingraham. A strong tide rushes
in and out of Lake Ingraham. One could camp in an emergency on the north side of this outlet to the Gulf, although it is not
an approved campsite. It is a good spot for fishing and walking along the sandy Gulf beach and bird-watching.
19 miles from Flamingo on the Gulf Coast, is North West Cape, which is reached from the south
(passing Middle Cape) or from the north through a marked waterway on the "inside" from Flamingo, crossing Whitewater
Bay and Oyster Bay, out to the Gulf, a marked route and a much longer distance.
There are no outhouses
on the cape campsites, and Northwest Cape does not seem even to have a sign identifying it. The continuous, long
beach which constitutes Northwest Cape is good for camping, bird watching and viewing other wildlife. One
can walk inland a great distance at Northwest Cape.
GRAVEYARD CREEK CAMPSITE:
the Gulf Coast, on the north side of Ponce de Leon Bay near where Shark River meets the Gulf, at the mouth of Graveyard Creek
and just around the bend named Shark Point (there is another Shark Point to the east of Flamingo) is a large, comfortable
campsite on sand and hard ground, surrounded by woods and picturesque beach, both of which are excellent for hiking. The site
has a toilet, a table and a grill for cooking. This is an ideal campsite, more ground-like than beach. Because of the challenge
crossing Ponce de Leon Bay along the Gulf, visitors leaving from Flamingo may prefer to take an "inside" route,
but only with a good GPS.
***The following campsites are on Florida Bay, reached from Flamingo, only
with good navigation:
CARL ROSS KEY:
The prize, the most beautiful island,
best for camping, 9 miles from Flamingo on Florida Bay across open water, is Carl Ross Key. This island has a table, high
ground and shade, and it has lots of sand and shallow water which attracts numerous birds. Although there is deeper water
on the Gulf side of the Island, one may not be able to land at low tide depending on one's boat.
About 12 miles southeast of Flamingo on Floirda Bay, Little River Campsite is not easy
to find. There is more than one way to get to this site, but any route calls for good navigation and definitely a GPS. One
way to go is to travel east, then between Frank Key and Palm Key, then pass the Pelican keys around the east side to avoid
extreme shallow water, and on to Little Rabbit Key. The campsite is on the western side of the Island, reached through a marked
channel between two islands entered from the eastern side. There is a dock and a toilet, but much of the campsitesite area
was completely under water in 1999. Little Rabbit Key Channels (deeper water) just south of the island are reputed to be good
NORTH NEST KEY
This island campsite on Florida Bay is about twenty
four miles east of Flamingo but only 8 miles west of Highway 1 near Key Largo. North Nest Key has
several beach camping areas--on the east, on the north alongside its dock and outhouses, and on the west, with a
shallow, soft muddy area leading up to the beach. On a sunny weekend there will be numerous boaters
at North Nest Key and kayakers paddling from locations along Highway 1. Despite the popularity of this
location and its proximity to Highway 1, there is pleanty of wildlife on and around the island.
following campsites are east of Flamingo along the mainland of Florida.
SHARK POINT CAMPSITE:
On Florida Bay to the east of Flamingo 8 miles, this interesting site has a large green field behind it, high
ground, pleanty of shade and areas to walk. It does not have a view of the water except by peeking through the trees. The
tiny "beach" is mud. The trip to Shark Point is mostly marked, and most of the route is fairly shallow. Because
the tide from the Atlantic reaches Shark Point, high tide at this campsite is four hours later than high tide in Flamingo.
But the tidal effect is not great since it is far from both the Atlantic and the Gulf.
2.5 miles from Shark Point and ten miles from Flamingo across Garfield Bight is Alligator
Creek Campsite. At times (a combinatsion of time of year, position of the moon and the ebb and flow of the tides) Garfield
Bight is so shallow that the Campsite cannot be reached by way of the Florida Bay route. The alternate route and this interesting
Campsite are discussed above under campsites reached from West Lake on Ingraham Highway.
are campsites on the "inside" usually reached putting in at Flamingo and going up Buttonwood Canal to Whitewater
Bay. The nearer sites are around Whitewater Bay and Joe River, the distant sites are Shark River Chickee, Canepatch Campsite
and the Harney River Chickee:
Joe River is not part of the marked
Wilderness Waterway, but it is a better way to travel when paddling because it is not subject to so much wind and white water.
It is the protected way to travel, at least until one reaches Oyster Bay. Going by way of Joe River, one can deviate a few
hundred yards to South Joe River Chickee, a double chickee with toilet on a small bay only 11.5 miles from Flamingo. This
chickee is on open water. It is quite attractive for photography.
JOE RIVER CHICKEE:
miles from Flamingo, this double chickee is up against the mangroves and it is located right in front of a waterway which
feeds into Joe River. It is on the Joe River itself, though set back a few yards.
OYSTER BAY CHICKEE:
22 miles from Flamingo in a cove east of Oyster Bay, somewhat hidden, this double chickee is up against
the mangroves. It is a strategically located chickee for fishing in the area. It has a toilet. The morning sun lights it up,
but mangroves block the sunset.
ROBERTS RIVER CHICKEE:
Roberts River Chickee
is a double chickee, but first one needs to find the River's mouth from Whitewater Bay. One crosses Whitewater Bay to
Marker 20 and heads northeast. The River mouth is not apparent, and on two occasion the Scribe got lost, paddling to the south
into a more obvious opening in the mangroves, until arriving at a Park Monitoring Station on an unnamed, shallow bay. After
getting lost each time the Scribe returned and then headed north. The openings for Lane River and Roberts River present. The
paddler chooses Roberts River to the left, after which choice the marine chart appears accurate, and Roberts River Chickee
up the River appears on schedule. North River Chickee and Watson River Chickee, single chickees, are also located on rivers
on the east side of Whitwater Bay.
NORTH RIVER CHICKEE:
North River Chickee
can be found by way of North River or Roberts River. The Scribe visited North River Chickee by way of Roberts River and returned
on North River. The boater or paddler on Roberts River needs first to arrive at Roberts River Chickee. Beyond this Chickee,
the water becomes shallow until reaching the "The Cutoff". The Cutoff is a singular waterway with many gators visible
along the way. It appears deeper than Roberts River in this area, and it leads directly to North River. On North River one
heads south, but North River Chickee is not on North River itself. It is located near the River on a bay. The Chickee is single
and small (one tent only will fit), and the ladder needed some repair. The area seems unusually quiet. There were no night
visitors and not even any bugs on a warm day in February.
WATSON RIVER CHICKEE:
the northern end of Whitewater Bay not far from North River is Watson River, not to be confused with The Watson Place on Chatham
River not far from Chokoloskee Island. Watson River Chickee, though not visible from Whitewater Bay, is very near the Bay
itself, and therefore it is a potential refuge in an emergency on Whitewater Bay. Watson Chickee is a single chickee with
a latrine, easily located by departing the Wilderness Waterway at Marker 34, going east one mile and north two miles. Water
depth is more than adequate for boating. The Chickee actually is snuggled just inside an inlet nearby Watson River but not
on the river.
The Wilderness Waterway route across Whitewater Bay to Cormorant Pass is nicely marked,
but finding some of the chickees on the eastern side of Whitewater Bay is a challenge, particularly for the paddler who cannot
afford many mistakes, mistakes which can result in much more time on the water than anticipated.
A single chickee up against the mangroves, this is a sight for sore eyes if one has
paddled across Whitewater Bay, through Cormorant Pass and Shark Cutoff and up Little Shark River to find it. Shark River Chickee
is 20 miles from Flamingo, on the outer limits of a day's navigation by paddle. It is a few yards off the Little Shark
River but visible from the River. If you have to set up your tent at mosquito hour, you are going to be visited. If there
is more than one tent, both need to be be small (six feet each).
Shark River to Shark River, across Tarpon Bay and through Avocado Creek, a narrow creek, will bring one to Canepatch, 28.5
miles from Flamingo. Canepatch is a sunny campsite with a dock, a toilet, a table, and a bay in front of it which is not named.
Beyond Canepatch are two waterways which lead to fresh water. In fact, Canepatch water is mostly fresh, and fishing is different.
Otters may make an appearance on the water. A gentleman racoon will visit at night, withdrawing when he is shunned, reappearing
in a few minutes from another direction. Hummingbirds and bees feed at Canepatch, and something growls in the woods at night.
Canepatch is off the Wilderness Waterway by at least 4 miles. It has considerable space to camp, although it is surrounded
by forest. A few years ago vandals chopped down trees of historic interest. A turkey vulture circles above.
A single chickee 33 miles from Flamingo on the Wilderness Waterway and on Harney River,
this site is attached to a mangrove island in the middle of the River. Tides rush by the chickee. Harney River Chickee has
a toilet. It is the last stop before making the decision to go into The Nightmare or go down the River to the Gulf, if navigating
the Wilderness Waterway. There are two routes directly to the Gulf from the Chickee. Harney River Chickee is interesting for
its position near The Nightmare and far from the rest of the world.