By: Shayne Benowitz
Pitch your tent and soak in the beauty at one of Miami’s campsites.
For lovers of the outdoors, Miami is filled with diverse diversions. From National Parks with one-of-a-kind ecosystems, like the Everglades, to state parks surrounded by Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Miami’s natural beauty is abundant. For camping enthusiasts, it’s a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with Florida’s unique ecosystem and sleep beneath the stars. Read on for your guide to RVs and camping in Miami.
Everglades National Park
There may be no wilderness more epic than the Everglades when it comes to a camping trip. These lush, subtropical wetlands occupy 1.5 million acres of sawgrass prairies, hardwood hammocks, saltwater marshes and a diverse population of wildlife that includes bald eagles, white-tailed deer and, of course, the Florida alligator. The Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park are the only places in the world where you can spot alligators and crocodiles living side by side. There are a variety of options for year round camping in both the Everglades remote backcountry and the more accessible frontcountry. It’s important to note that the most popular camping season is between November and April. During this time period, it’s a good idea to reserve your campsite in advance of your trip.
Frontcountry camping is available at both Long Pine Key and Flamingo campsites. Long Pine has 108 drive-up sites, while Flamingo offers 235. There’s a $20 fee for each site and group camping with a minimum of 15 people can also be arranged. A section called T-Loop offers 41 sites with electrical hookups and costs $30 per site. The backcountry is a more rugged and outward-bound option for experienced campers. A permit is required for backcountry camping that must be obtained no more than 24-hours in advance of your trip at either the Gulf Coast or Flamingo areas of the park. For more information call 877-444-6777.
Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park is distinct because 95 percent of the park is underwater. That means, for those who want the true park experience, whether during the day or overnight, a boat is necessary. Campsites are available at Boca Chita Key and Elliott Key, and both sights are accessible only by boat. For a $25 fee per night, six people with up to two tents can enjoy this remote, watery wilderness. Spots are given on a first come, first served basis and cannot be reserved in advance. Additionally, Elliott Key has a group campsite, which can be reserved for a $30 fee by calling 786-335-3609.
Sunny Isles Beach & North Miami Beach
Oleta River State Park near Sunny Isles Beach is considered Florida’s largest urban park. It’s popular for its miles of mountain biking trails, as well as its kayak and canoe rentals. With a meandering nature trail, fishing pier and a peaceful beach on Biscayne Bay, there’s plenty for nature lovers to do here. The park boasts 14 small cabins with covered porches and picnic tables, each equipped with double or bunk beds and air-conditioning. Cabins do not have bathrooms or kitchens, but restrooms with hot showers and picnic pavilions with grills are nearby. Cabin rentals are $55 per night with a two-night minimum and can be booked up to eleven months in advance by calling 800-326-3521.
There are three primitive campsites in Oleta that can accommodate up to 30 campers each. They have a fire circle, tables, restroom and cold showers. Priority is given to youth groups, but adult campers are also considered. For more information call 305-919-1844.
Greynolds Park is found in North Miami Beach on a site that was once a rock quarry. Today, its 249 acres include hardwood hammocks, mangrove forests and a golf course, bordered to the east by the Oleta River. The onsite Camp Greynolds offers eight cabins made of natural wood and stone, outfitted with bunk beds and full kitchens. There’s also a dining hall, grills, fire ring and canoe launch. Each cabin sleeps up to eight people and the facilities are available for weekend stays for organized groups. Additionally, a tent camping site is also available. The facilities start at $200 per night with a minimum of 25 people and maximum of 138.
At the tip of Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is a tranquil retreat with views out to Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s home to one of the most popular beaches in Miami and is famous for its historic lighthouse. The park offers bicycle, kayak and canoe rentals to explore the park by land and sea. Bill Baggs also offers overnight boat anchorage in No Name Harbor for $20 per night per boat, as well as a primitive campsite for organized youth groups. Overnight boaters have access to coin laundry machines, a picnic shelter, restrooms with showers and free pump out, while the park’s restaurant, Boater’s Grill, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The primitive campsite consists of ten wooden tent platforms, as well as a fire ring, three grills, picnic tables and benches. Priority is given to organized youth groups of no less than six and no more than thirty people, while adult campers are also considered. Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance by calling 305-361-8779. Fees are $1.13 per youth per night and $5.65 per adult per night.
Located in South Miami near Zoo Miami, the Larry & Penny Thompson Campground is found on 270 acres of woodland with over 240 campsites for RVs. The sites offer full electrical and water hookups, picnic shelters, restrooms with hot showers and laundry facilities. There is also a separate tent camping area. The campground is home to a large freshwater lake with a beach and waterslide. Rates start at $34 per day, $192 per week and $565 per month for RVs; $17 per night for tents sites. For more information and to make a reservation, call 305-232-1049.
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