Wilderness Camping

Backcountry Campsite
A tent and a kayak on a beach in the backcountry

NPS Photo

Experience Camping in the Wilderness

Start planning your trip today with our Wilderness Trip Planner page

Permits are required for ALL wilderness camping. Campers can obtain permits at the Flamingo and Gulf Coast Visitor Centers daily. Campers must register in person no more than one day in advance of the trip start date. Permit fees apply.

During the summer season (mid-April through mid-November) permits are free, but still required. Follow the instructions at the 24-hour self-registration stations at either the Flamingo or Gulf Coast Visitor Centers.

Practice Leave No Trace principles, including "pack-it-in, pack-it-out." Plan to bring all your needed supplies and leave with all belongings including waste. Be aware that many sites do not have restrooms and those that do are not always serviced regularly.

Reminder: Most wilderness campsites are only accessible by water.

Updates on Wilderness Campsites

Broad Creek and "The Nightmare" between the Broad River Chickee and Harney River Chickee are passable. Watson River Chickee and Roberts River Chickee are closed indefinitely for repairs. Hazard cleanup and repairs are ongoing in the backcountry. Please use caution when navigating in park waters as there are underwater hazards and missing or damaged navigational markers. Check conditions at the Flamingo or Gulf Coast Visitor Centers before departing for your trip.


Best Times to Camp

Winter is the best season to go. Summers are hot, muggy, and mosquitoes are plentiful.

Feeding wildlife anywhere in the park is prohibited. Use caution around campsites where alligators or other wildlife may have been fed or gained access to human food. If wildlife associate humans with food, they may exhibit more assertive behaviors.

Review our Wilderness Trip Planner page to help you plan your backcountry adventure!

Call either the Gulf Coast (239-695-3311) or the Flamingo (239-695-2945) Visitor Centers for detailed information to help with your trip planning.


Reservations are not accepted for any backcountry site.


Fees and Permits

A backcountry permit is required for all wilderness campsites and issued the day before or the day of your trip.

During the winter season (mid-November through mid-April) backcountry permits must be obtained in person at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center or at the Flamingo Visitor Center between the hours of 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM. A permit processing fee of $15 will be charged as well as a $2 per person per day camping fee.

During the summer season (mid-April through mid-November) permits are free but are still required. They are available 24 hours 7 days per week. Follow self-registration instructions at either visitor center.

Permits are not issued over the telephone except for visitors coming in from the Florida Keys to camp at North Nest Key, Little Rabbit Key, Shark Point Chickee, Johnson Key Chickee and Cape Sable. Please call 239-695-2945 or 239-695-3311.

Note: The maximum backcountry stay is 14 days.

A few tips on getting backcountry permits:

  • For sites where only one or two campers are allowed, people should arrive at the ranger station a day in advance to secure permits on busy weekends. If you seek a permit for the day you arrive, plan to be flexible and have alternative sites in mind.
  • There are a high number of permits allowed for beach camping along Cape Sable, so it's generally possible to obtain a permit for these on the morning of your departure.
  • A few backcountry sites are accessed via the Florida Keys and you can reserve these by phone the day before.


Last updated: June 17, 2020

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Mailing Address:

40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034


(305) 242-7700

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