A major change is taking place for how backcountry camping permits are issued for the Wilderness Waterway, Cape Sable and Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands within Everglades National Park.
Once available only 24 hours in advance and in person, the permits can now be reserved on Recreation.gov up to three months in advance, beginning Nov. 17, 2020.
The permits must still be picked up in person on the day before or the day of your trip at either the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City or the Flamingo Visitor Center.
However, the ability to reserve campsites so far in advance is a major change intended to accommodate trip planning, especially for those traveling long distances to paddle the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway, which takes about 8 days. The permit is good for the length of your stay.
How much is the permit?
The wilderness permits cost $21 per group plus $2 per person, per night, for camping. There are no refunds. If the permit is cancelled or not picked up, the camping reservations alotted to the permit will be released immediately.
In addition, you need a pass to enter Everglades National Park, which can be purchased online here or purchased in person at the park entrance in Homestead or at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center.
Entrance Fee is also required
Entrance fees waived for Veterans & Gold Star Families
As of Nov. 11, 2020, Veterans and Gold Star families are admitted free to national parks and other federal lands. Free access is for the veteran or the holder of the Gold Star Family voucher as well as traveling companions who are occupants of a single, private non-commercial vehicle
Campsites & Wilderness Waterway
There are three types of camping available on 46 sites in the Ten Thousand Islands: Chickee Sites (platforms over water); Ground sites (along bays and rivers); and Beach Sites (on islands along the coast).
Some, but not all, are intended for paddlers and boaters making the journey from Eveglades City to Flamingo on the Wilderness Waterway.
Capacity at each site differs, as does the number of groups and the number of days groups are allowed to stay. Capacities are determined by permits purchased in advance.
Everglades National Park officials say they will hold back a limited number of permits to be available first-come, first served and issued up to 24 hours in advance, as before.
No permits required north of Tiger Key
No permits are required for camping in the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which is north of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Wilderness Area but also accessible from Everglades City.