Backcountry Camping

Backcountry camping is a unique and exciting way to experience the national seashore's backcountry and wilderness areas. Whether exploring one of the Mississippi islands or trekking to the historic ruins of Fort McRee, backcountry camping will reward visitors in numerous ways.

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Basic Information

Boat-in backcountry camping is allowed at the Perdido Key Area in Florida and in Mississippi on Petit Bois, West Petit Bois, and Horn Islands, as well as the National Park Service owned portion of Cat Island under the following conditions:

  1. Backcountry camping at Perdido Key is only available via camping by vessel. Walk-in or drop-off camping is not allowed. Backcountry campers arriving by vessel can camp ½ mile east of the Johnson Beach turn around east to Pensacola Pass.

  2. Backcountry campsites must be on relatively flat, level beaches without damage to vegetation or dunes. Camping on dunes, foredunes, or on vegetation is prohibited.

  3. Campsites may not be used by more than 10 people at one time and must be separated 500 feet apart (approx.1/10th of a mile).

  4. Refuse must be packed out leaving no trace (pack it in/pack it out). Campers must have an approved device to receive human waste that must accompany and be used by them. Human waste and used toilet paper are to be removed from the islands and not buried in the National Seashore.

  5. No motorized or mechanical mean devices (wheeled coolers, carts, wheelbarrows, or anything with wheels and axles, etc..) are allowed in the wilderness areas of Horn and Petit Bois Islands.

  6. Camping is limited to fourteen (14) consecutive days in the boat-in backcountry and wilderness areas. At the end of fourteen (14) days, campers must completely remove themselves and their property from the National Seashore for a minimum of 2 days (48 hours) before returning for another overnight visit. There is a 42-day maximum timeframe for camping in the backcountry and wilderness areas during the calendar year.

  7. Camping, cooking, or other activities are not allowed in areas closed for the protection of shorebirds, osprey, or eagles, including any area within 300 yards of any nest which is being used by adult or juvenile osprey or eagle.

  8. In all developed picnic areas fires may be built in permanent grills (charcoal only) or fire rings at designated sites.

  9. At Perdido Key, half mile east of the turnaround to the Pensacola Pass; Petit Bois, Horn; West Petit Bois Island (AKA Sand); and the NPS-owned portion of Cat Island portable gas and charcoal grills are allowed. All burned and unburned material from portable grills must be placed in park service provided ash receptacles or removed from the area. Such material may not be placed in trash receptacles or placed on the ground.

  10. Portable grills may be used at designated campsites at Perdido Key only.

  11. Campfires are allowed on Johnson beach from ½ mile east of the turnaround to the Pensacola Pass, Horn, Petit Bois, West Petit Bois, and NPS-owned portion of Cat Island, below the mean high tide line and not in any vegetated area. Campers must bring their own firewood to use and take any unused firewood with them when they leave.

  12. Collecting driftwood for use as fuel for campfires is prohibited.

  13. Practice Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics.

  14. Keep a respectful distance from wildlife.

  15. Follow all National Park Service regulations found on the Laws & Policies page, as well as those within the Superintendent's Compendium.

Large organized groups of 10 or more people must have a Wilderness Permit to camp on the wilderness islands, Horn and Petit Bois islands.

Last updated: August 1, 2022

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1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway
Gulf Breeze, FL 32563

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