General Trip Planning Information
Safely exploring a wilderness by water requires careful preparation and planning. Plan at least two routes before arriving at the park in case your first choice is already filled. If you require assistance planning your trip, call or stop by the Gulf Coast (Everglades City) or Flamingo Visitor Centers. You may also find answers to your questions by visiting the Everglades National Park website at www.nps.gov/ever.
Because of the heat, severe storms, and intolerable numbers of mosquitoes, summer (June –October) is not the best time of year for a wilderness trip. The winter months (December–April) tend to be more pleasant.
Nautical charts are necessary for finding your way in the wilderness and are useful in planning your trip. Charts may be purchased at the Coe and Gulf Coast Visitor Centers, Flamingo Marina, and Everglades NP Boat Tours, or ordered from the Everglades Association (page 3). Some sites are not indicated with a tent symbol on nautical charts. Consult visitor center maps before departure.
The 99-mile Wilderness Waterway attracts interest because it connects Flamingo and Everglades City. Most paddlers allow at least eight days to complete the trip. This route is recommended for experienced paddlers only. Arrange in advance for a vehicle shuttle. There are many areas of very shallow water that may be encountered along the Wilderness Waterway. Powerboats over 18' long may have to detour around Alligator and Plate Creeks. The “Nightmare” and Broad Creek are passable only to paddlers at high tide. To prevent prop dredging, which results in increased turbidity and the destruction of submerged natural features, boats with drafts of two feet or more, including the propeller, should not use the waterway.
Tides and winds can make paddling difficult. Most experienced paddlers plan to travel between 8 and 12 miles per day. Adverse conditions may reduce your speed to one mile an hour or less. Boaters are expected to know their own abilities, be able to use charts, understand tides and weather, and make appropriate decisions in selecting an itinerary. This is a wilderness.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness has different types of camping opportunities.
Chickees are located along rivers and bays where dry land is inaccessable. They are elevated 10' x 12' wooden platforms with roofs. A walkway leads to a self-contained toilet. You'll need a freestanding tent, since stakes or nails are not allowed. No campfires are allowed on chickees. Some paddlers have difficulty accessing chickees from their boats. A loop of heavy rope may be helpful.
Ground sites are mounds of earth a few feet higher than the surrounding mangroves, located along interior bays and rivers. They tend to have more insects than chickees or beach sites. No campfires are allowed on ground sites. Use gas grills or stoves. Wood, charcoal, or coal-fueled grills or stoves are not permitted.
Beach sites are located on the coast. During ideal conditions, insects may be scarce, but always be prepared for mosquitoes and no-see-ums (tiny biting insects), especially at sunrise and sunset. Gulf waters at beach sites can become rough; seas can exceed 3 feet. Low tides often expose large mud flats, which may make beach access difficult. Campfires must be below hightide line.Sand beaches are often stabilized by tall, grassy plants called sea oats. Take care not to damage them. Sea turtles and crocodiles nest on beaches in late spring and summer. Avoid camping or building a fire where nesting evidence exists. Many beach sites have no toilets. Bury human waste at least six inches below the surface, away from shorelines and tent sites. Urinate directly in the water
Boat Rentals Inside the Park:
Everglades National Park Boat Tours Located at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City: (239) 695-2591 or www.evergladesnationalparkboattoursgu lfcoast.com. And at the southern end of the park at the Flamingo Marina: www.evergladesnationalparkboattoursfla mingo.com
• Canoe and kayak rentals Outside the Park: Everglades Hostel and Tours (800) 372-3874 or (305) 248-1122 www.evergladeshostel.com Located in Florida City
• Canoe rentals and other outfitting services Florida Bay Outfitters (305) 451-3018 www.kayakfloridakeys.com Located in Key Largo
• Canoe/kayak rentals and other services Located in Everglades City/ Chokoloskee: Everglades Area Tours (239) 695-9107 www.evergladesareatours.com
• Kayak rentals Glades Haven (239) 695-2628 www.gladeshaven.com
• Canoe, kayak, and powerboat rentals North American Canoe Tours (239) 695-3299 www.evergladesadventures.com
• Canoe and kayak rentals Outdoor Resorts (239) 695-2881
• Canoe and powerboat rentals Use of rental equipment may be limited to certain areas of the park. Some outfitters offer shuttle service and guided overnight trips. Please check with outfitters directly.
All outfitters operating in Everglades National Park must possess a Commercial Use Permit (CUA). For a complete list of CUA holders visit the park’s website: www.nps.gov/ever
Safety and Current Conditions
Find out more information about current weather conditions at: http://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/weather.htm