FL Keys backcountry camping ?

Is it legal ? Tolerated ? Ever done it ? Not talking campgrounds here but setting up tent on isolated public land.

Have Bill Keogh’s “FL Keys Paddling Guide” in which he says most of small isolated keys off US1 corridor are part of interconnected Nat Wildlife refuges. In this very thorough & detailed book, he describes 47 different great-sounding trips from 67 various, mostly public launches but never once mentions camping (other than in campgrounds)

Can contact refuge hdqtrs to determine policy but looking for your experience ? Thanx.

Try nest Key…

– Last Updated: Dec-04-05 5:09 PM EST –

and hopefully Grayhawk will chime in here.
He is P-nets resident key camping guru.

If you want a long paddle (eight miles), Elliot Key is a great place. Take off from Biscayne National Park Headquarters, and camp out there, and then do day trips to explore around the key.

We did it a few years back and really enjoyed it.
Make sure you have a GPS with the coordinates plugged in, cause if you miss it you will end up in England or Cuba or the Bahamas, etc.


I’m no Keys expert…

– Last Updated: Dec-04-05 1:07 PM EST –

... but when we paddled the back country last spring off a mothership, pretty much everything we saw that you could call land was dense mangrove swamp, highly uncampable. And the few spots where you could see some flat ground were swarming with insects.

The mothership, BTW, was a great way to paddle the Keys back country on multi-day trips in relative comfort from those impediments. It seems to me that getting to the back country by kayak usually involves a day trip from the Rt 1 backbone, which is generally a fairly long paddle for one day, at least to the more remote spots.


camping in the tropics…
Wet underfoot? Creepy, crawly things? no flat. dry places for a tent…it’s for all the above I use a Hennessy hammock whenever I can…

There are many fantastic…
isolated small sandy beaches that we pull up and spend an hour or two.

The only insects we have ever come across are the no-seeums which only come out in the morning and evening.

We use deet and never have a problem.



We pulled up at a one of those sandy…
… beaches. A few of the party landed first, and I tarried offshore. Then I noticed them swinging their arms in odd patterns. As I paddled close, I noticed some intense buzzing heading my way. OK, I am an insect attractant, but everybody was uncomfortable. This was April, mid-afternoon.

So, next time I head there, you can tell me your secret no-see-um only beaches, not that no-see-ums are to be underestimated just because they are small.

And deet – the cure worse than the disease???


I am not sure what you have …
against deet, but if you want to enjoy the keys, weather exploring the beaches or camping there, you better learn to use it.

Works good down there and it is the best thing for the mosquitoes in the Arctic.

Take a bath in it, and then enjoy yourself!



ENP… as of today.

I was out on the Turner River today and, Jack the water was up and it was beautiful. The Park is still closed to camping below Highland Beach. Which means that the half closest to the Keys is still closed. There are a few isolated beaches to camp on in the Keys but not many. Hoping ENP opens up soon.

pic of one of my friends on the Turner…