The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness is part of the 109 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness"
as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964
. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques
when visiting the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.
All artifacts, plants, and animals (including seashells) are protected in Everglades National Park; it is prohibited to collect or disturb them.
Pets are not permitted at backcountry campsites, beaches, or ashore anywhere in the wilderness. Pets can disrupt feeding, nesting, and mating activities of wildlife.
Wildlife Do not feed any animals, regardless of whether they have feet, fins, or feathers. It is illegal. Do not approach wildlife so closely that it interrupts their natural behavior. Enjoy the diverse wildlife, but from a safe distance. Do not leave food unattended. Store food & trash in a secure compartment aboard a vessel or in a hard– sided cooler (not foam). Raccoons and rodents are aggressive and may chew through plastic water jugs, tents, dry bags, etc.
There is no fresh water available anywhere along the coastal portions of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness. You must bring all of your drinking and cooking water. As a minimum, plan on bringing one gallon of water per person, per day. Hardsided containers should be used, as raccoons often chew through soft-sided containers (such as “milk jugs”) to get to your drinking water. In addition to ruining your trip, when raccoons get your drinking water, it allows artificially large numbers of them to survive in a given area. In the summer, sea turtles nesting on these same remote Everglades beaches lay their eggs, only to have over 90% of the nests destroyed by the hungry raccoons. Don’t upset the balance of nature. Keep all water and food away from park wildlife.
Fires Fires are not permitted at ground sites or chickees. Fires are only allowed at designated “beach” sites. Build fires below the highest tide line. Use only dead and downed wood. No cutting of standing dead trees. Remove all traces of fires before leaving site.
With the exception of fires on designated “beach” sites see above), all cooking, heating, etc. must be done with devices that will not produce any ash or a spark or ember that is capable of igniting vegetation. Wood, charcoal, or coal-fueled grills, stoves or devices are not permitted.
Weapons and Fireworks
Possession of firearms in Everglades National Park follows State of Florida regulations. Fireworks are prohibited.
Generators, chain saws and other portable motors are prohibited at all backcountry sites.
Use toilets where provided. Do not dispose of moist towelettes in toilets. If there is no toilet, dig a hole at least six inches deep and cover it after use. Pack out toilet paper. At beach and coastal ground sites, urinate directly in the water. To avoid soap pollution, wash dishes (and yourself) away from waterways and sprinkle the gray water over the ground to soak in.
Carry out all your trash; do not bury, burn, or dispose of it in toilets. Use toilets where provided, for human waste only. Do not throw baby wipes, disposable wet/wash cloths, or insect repellent cloths in toilets. International laws prohibit dumping trash at sea.
Park fishing regulations are available from visitor centers or on the park’s website. A state fishing license is required; purchase one before you come to the park from area bait and marine supply stores. You may also obtain a fishing license by calling 1-888-347-4356.
All keys (islands) in Florida Bay are closed to landing, except Bradley Key (open sunrise to sunset), and those designated as campsites. In Florida Bay, the mainland from Terrapin Point to U.S. 1 is closed to landing. Other areas may close temporarily to protect wildlife.
Sleeping on Board
If you sleep aboard a vessel, anchor out of sight of chickees and ¼ mile from other sites.
All vessels must conform to Coast Guard regulations. Air boats and personal watercraft (jet skis) are prohibited.
For Your Safety:
Carry fresh water (1 gallon/person/day), compass, nautical charts, anchor, sunscreen, sunglasses, rain gear, mosquito repellent or bug jacket, and tent (with insect netting).
File a float plan with a friend or relative before leaving home, and call that person when you finish your trip. If you do not call by the predetermined time, that person should notify the park’s 24-hour dispatch at (305) 242-7740.
Beware of swift currents and tides when securing vessels overnight; tidal ranges can exceed four feet in some locations. Beach canoes above high tide line and tie down or anchor from three points at landings/docks. Use tides to your advantage in travel. Tide tables are available at the Flamingo and Gulf Coast Visitor Centers or on-line.
Winds & Weather
Numerous canoes, kayaks, and boats have been swamped by rough seas on windy days. Thunderstorms occur frequently in summer. Hurricane season is June through November. Be prepared for sudden wind and weather changes at any time.
Paddlers will encounter powerboats. If you are in a narrow river or pass, and a boat approaches, pull as far to the side as possible, point the bow of your canoe or kayak into the boat’s wake, and stop paddling until the boat passes. Powerboaters: reduce speed in narrow channels; Idle past paddlers and give them plenty of space; approach last 100 yards of any backcountry campsite at idle speed to avoid prop dredging and excessive wave action.
If You’re In Trouble
Stay with your vessel near a navigational marker or campsite. Set anchor immediately. Try to attract the attention of other boaters. If you have a marine radio, transmit on channel 16. Try calling 1-800-788-0511 on your cell phone, but do not count on cell phone coverage.
Manatees frequent many of the waterways in Everglades National Park. Because they are slow-moving and feed in shallow water, many manatees are killed each year by boats. Be especially careful in areas posted with manatee signs. If you see an injured or dead manatee, please report it to park dispatch at (305) 242-7740.
What’s back there?
Remember to secure everything in your boat before heading home. Valuable items including fishing poles, life vests, seat cushions, coolers, and clothing often blow out of boats and are found along the roads. Garbage left in boats also finds its way to the roadsides. Please help keep south Florida national parks litter–free!
Boating in Florida Bay and the Everglades backcountry can be a challenge. Much of the water is quite shallow, and you can ground your boat quickly. In addition to damaging your boat, groundings destroy precious seagrasses and benthic communities that provide food and shelter to creatures inhabiting these waters. Always refer to nautical charts and tide charts for a safe boating excursion. When in doubt, go with someone familiar with the area. For information on boating in Florida Bay, see the Florida Bay Map & Guide at www.nps.gov/ever.
Keep Track of Where You Are
A nautical chart and compass are your best equipment for staying on route, finding your designated campsite, and returning safely. GPS (global positioning systems) and cell phones are also helpful, but do not rely primarily on this technology to navigate in the backcountry. Batteries may die, equipment may get lost or malfunction, and satellite and cell phone coverage may be spotty at best.