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Camping at Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park
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General Overview

Biscayne National Park is located in southern Florida, not far from the city of Miami. It encompasses coral reefs, islands, and shoreline mangrove forest along the Biscayne Bay. The park is renowned for its marine life, snorkeling and SCUBA diving opportunities, boating, and its rich history. Unlike many other national parks, Biscayne is primarily water with a small portion of land.

Camping Opportunities

Boca Chita Key and Elliott Key: These are the two islands within the park where camping is allowed. Camping on these islands is primitive, meaning there are no showers, electrical hookups, or other common amenities found in well-developed campgrounds.

Boca Chita Key

  • It's the park's most popular island, featuring a historic lighthouse.
  • There are picnic tables and grills.
  • Restrooms are available, but there are no showers or fresh water.
  • Camping is first-come, first-served with a fee collected by park rangers.

Elliott Key

  • It's the park's largest island and accessible only by boat.
  • Campers will find flush toilets and cold-water showers.
  • The island has picnic tables and grills.
  • Similar to Boca Chita, camping is first-come, first-served, and a fee is collected.

Campground Amenities on the Islands

  • Toilets: Non-flushing toilets on Boca Chita Key and flushing toilets on Elliott Key.
  • Water: No fresh water on Boca Chita Key; however, Elliott Key does have water access, although under rare conditions it might not be available, so always check ahead and be prepared.
  • Picnic areas: Equipped with tables and grills.
  • Docking: Both islands have docks which are available on a first-come, first-served basis with overnight docking fees.
  • Trash: There are no trash disposal facilities on the islands; you must pack out all that you pack in.

Safety and Regulations

  • Fire: Open ground fires are not allowed on the islands. Use grills or portable stoves instead.
  • Wildlife: Feeding or harassing wildlife, including fish, is illegal and harmful.
  • Pets: Pets are not allowed on the islands.
  • Fishing: Requires a Florida state fishing license.
  • Boating: Boats are necessary to reach the islands, and operators must obey all boating regulations.

Planning and Preparation

  • Weather: Prepare for sunny and hot conditions, but also be ready for rain and potentially chilly nights during the winter season.
  • Supplies: Bring all necessary supplies, including food, water, and shelter, as there are no provisions available for purchase on the islands.
  • Reservations and Capacity: Boca Chita and Elliott Key campsites are first-come, first-served. They can fill quickly, especially on weekends and holidays, so plan to arrive early.

Access to the Park

There is no bridge to the islands, so access is by boat only. Park visitors can use their private boat or hire a boat from local marinas. Certain commercial services, such as guided tours and ferry services, may be available to reach the islands.

Conservation and Leave No Trace Principles

Biscayne National Park is dedicated to preserving its unique ecosystem. When camping and visiting, practice Leave No Trace principles which include:

  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Respect wildlife
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Leave what you find
  • Be considerate of other visitors

Following these guidelines helps ensure that the park remains a pristine environment for future generations to enjoy.

Map of Campgrounds in Biscayne National Park
Campgrounds in Biscayne National Park
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