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  1. #1
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    Know what finding a place to camp near everglades national park is like?

    I'm planning a trip that runs east west across the top of the park (Tamimi/Hwy 41). Gator Park does not allow tent camping. There's mid-way and monument lakes campground. Limited number of sites and they don't take reservations. I'd like to start my ride up in Fort Lauderdale. I'm concerned about getting half way across the park late in the day and not being able to find a site.

    My plan is to go mid-feb. Does anybody have experience with this route that you can share? I'm not against stealth camping if necessary but I don't know how doable that is there.

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    Member Teamdarb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
    My plan is to go mid-feb. Does anybody have experience with this route that you can share? I'm not against stealth camping if necessary but I don't know how doable that is there.
    It is doable anywhere. The only way it is not is lacking confidence. I vow to never pay to camp. Plus, at this time of year- No one cares. Parks are out of season.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    How's the Gator feeding going, down there, are they hungry for tent campers?

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    Senior Member TampaRaleigh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    How's the Gator feeding going, down there, are they hungry for tent campers?
    Mid February is USUALLY pretty quiet. The gators don't usually get cranky until late March.

    I say "usually" because this has been a VERY mild winter, and that might make them more active earlier in the year. Heck, there was an 8 ft gator sunning himself about 20 feet away from the bike trail near my house last weekend.

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    I'm a lot more concerned about a nasty park ranger than a gator. This is not the off season down there. It's about the busiest time of the year.

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    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teamdarb View Post
    It is doable anywhere. The only way it is not is lacking confidence. I vow to never pay to camp. Plus, at this time of year- No one cares. Parks are out of season.
    From my experience driving around the Everglades area, stealth camping is very difficult once the roads enters or boarders the swamp. In many spots there is the road which is elevated by a few feet, and then on both sides of the road is swamp -- no dry spots, growth of grass or brush is thick, and finding a stealthy spot, or a spot to hang a hammock or pitch a tent is nearly impossible.

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    Senior Member 12bar's Avatar
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    There is also a python hunt taking place which is drawing a lot of people to the park.
    "It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for someone you love". Blazeman, Warrior Poet

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  8. #8
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    I didn't know about the hunt. But I see it ends feb 10. I'm looking at going about feb 20, so hopefully a non issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bwgride View Post
    From my experience driving around the Everglades area, stealth camping is very difficult once the roads enters or boarders the swamp. In many spots there is the road which is elevated by a few feet, and then on both sides of the road is swamp -- no dry spots, growth of grass or brush is thick, and finding a stealthy spot, or a spot to hang a hammock or pitch a tent is nearly impossible.
    Thanks for that perspective. I guess I'll start out as close to the park as I can, hope to find a site at midway or Monument lake. If there's nothing there I won't be able to lounge around and will keep going west and hopefully find something before reaching Marco island where I plan to ride the ferry to key west.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ridefreemc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
    I'm planning a trip that runs east west across the top of the park (Tamimi/Hwy 41). Gator Park does not allow tent camping. There's mid-way and monument lakes campground. Limited number of sites and they don't take reservations. I'd like to start my ride up in Fort Lauderdale. I'm concerned about getting half way across the park late in the day and not being able to find a site.

    My plan is to go mid-feb. Does anybody have experience with this route that you can share? I'm not against stealth camping if necessary but I don't know how doable that is there.
    Walter (if you are still with us) - how did that turn out for you? Did you find camping? I'm curious because I sped a lot of time there and know how inhospitable it can be. Also, how did the ferry ride go? Any issues with bringing a bike on?
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridefreemc View Post
    Walter (if you are still with us) - how did that turn out for you? Did you find camping? I'm curious because I sped a lot of time there and know how inhospitable it can be. Also, how did the ferry ride go? Any issues with bringing a bike on?
    It went quite well :-). I found the campground hosts to be very accommodating. I think it helps to let some vulnerability show, and then friendly people will find a spot regardless of the crowds. After riding for 10 days thru the area I increasingly thought the risk of simply being turned away late in the day with no place to go is just not much of a risk. Now if you show up at 2 pm at a full campground and did not call ahead, you may be asking for trouble.

    The ferry ride was smooth and the staff very accommodating. I secured the bicycle inside against a handrail only a few feet from my seat on the main deck. No steps to deal with as I recall. The ride was beautiful and fun, aboard what I understand is the largest catamaran in the world.

    I recorded some waypoints and notes about the trip here. http://www.walterstovall.com/current-tour/

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ridefreemc's Avatar
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    Thank for sharing that trip. It is a great place to travel to. You may enjoy Marjory Stoneman Douglas' book "A River of Grass," as well as some of the short stories in her "Nine Florida Stories" book (one is about a guy crossing the Everglades on foot!). She writes with 45 word sentences, but is quite poetic (somewhat like you write). However, to really get a feel for the Everglades I would recommend "Totch Brown: My Life in the Everglades."

    From reading your daily posts from your trip I think you have a good appreciation for the area. I talked with Michael Grunwald a few years ago while he was here in St. Petersburg. I enjoyed his writing about the history of the Everglades. I have a few ideas for your next trip that you might enjoy. Especially a little different route that you would likely enjoy immensly. If you go again, or just want to know about them regardless, let me know. I'd love to share these places and stories with someone who appreciates the area.

    Depending on the season (a.k.a. "wind) I'd like to take the ferry to Key West and ride back to the start via the Everglades.

    I spend many days and nights in the Everglades each year on either my sail boat, my 18 foot skiff, my kayak, and travelling through on my motorcycle. It is an incredible place.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridefreemc View Post
    You may enjoy Marjory Stoneman Douglas' book "A River of Grass," as well as some of the short stories in her "Nine Florida Stories" book (one is about a guy crossing the Everglades on foot!). She writes with 45 word sentences, but is quite poetic (somewhat like you write). However, to really get a feel for the Everglades I would recommend "Totch Brown: My Life in the Everglades."

    From reading your daily posts from your trip I think you have a good appreciation for the area. I talked with Michael Grunwald a few years ago while he was here in St. Petersburg. I enjoyed his writing about the history of the Everglades. I have a few ideas for your next trip that you might enjoy. Especially a little different route that you would likely enjoy immensly. If you go again, or just want to know about them regardless, let me know. I'd love to share these places and stories with someone who appreciates the area.

    Depending on the season (a.k.a. "wind) I'd like to take the ferry to Key West and ride back to the start via the Everglades.

    I spend many days and nights in the Everglades each year on either my sail boat, my 18 foot skiff, my kayak, and travelling through on my motorcycle. It is an incredible place.
    It certainly is a special area. I'm not sure how I'd have done in August. But March couldn't have been better. I'll check out those book titles. They look interesting. I read "The Swamp: Michael Grunwald" and found it an interesting book for somebody like me that knew very little about the area and its history. The book covered pre-history, geology, various indian tribes and how they fared.

    Do you find summer down there forbidding? Something you get used to? I live in Atlanta and it gets hot/humid (by my standards) here. But it seems like a big notch higher down there. I don't mind the heat so much. I just can't stay hydrated. There comes a point where I've got a belly full of water but I'm still dehydrated.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Ridefreemc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
    It certainly is a special area. I'm not sure how I'd have done in August. But March couldn't have been better. I'll check out those book titles. They look interesting. I read "The Swamp: Michael Grunwald" and found it an interesting book for somebody like me that knew very little about the area and its history. The book covered pre-history, geology, various indian tribes and how they fared.

    Do you find summer down there forbidding? Something you get used to? I live in Atlanta and it gets hot/humid (by my standards) here. But it seems like a big notch higher down there. I don't mind the heat so much. I just can't stay hydrated. There comes a point where I've got a belly full of water but I'm still dehydrated.
    I think Atlanta heat is worse. Here it doesn't get much above 95 if you stay away from urban heat islands and interstates. Along the coast there is almost always a breeze and it is 5-7 degrees cooler than Orlando. The humidity can cause problems when riding anytime after noon up to about 5:00 though. The Everglades can be great year round, but if you slow down to mosquito flying speed you can have a bad time in the summer, as well as in mild winters (i got eaten badly last February - rare for that time of year). I wear a mosquito net much of my time there, but the noseeums can travel right through that. I just let them eat! Sometimes I'll use a natural bug repellant, but after loading up on that for 5 days I get real crusty.
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    Rangers typically appreciate that if a cyclist is turned away it can cause problems if the cyclist is left with no alternative but to stealth camp. As busy as Yellowstone was when I was there, as a cyclist I was not even allowed to reserve a campsite before I entered the park at W. Yellowstone. I was told by the agency that handled reservations that a camprgound would always find room for me somewhere.

    At Sprague Creek in Glacier N.P. there are maybe 5 tend pads for hikers/bikers. I have stayed there with over a dozen other cyclists twice. They find room because the rangers don't want to have to search for you and then have to pull your half-eaten caracass out of the woods

  16. #16
    Senior Member Ridefreemc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    I have stayed there with over a dozen other cyclists twice. They find room because the rangers don't want to have to search for you and then have to pull your half-eaten caracass out of the woods
    So the saying that "there is strength in numbers" applies - or, all you have to be is faster than one person in the group
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    Depending on the trees, that's one situation where a hammock would come in handy. I've stayed at the hike and bike site at Castle Crags SP in northern California, which has most of the flat space taken up by two or three picnic tables, with two other two-man sized flat spots nearby. It can get a lot of Pacific Crest trail hikers there, since it's where the PCT crosses I-5, and has the first store and hot showers for many days hike in either direction. I've always arrived fairly early there to beat the worst of the summer heat, but by dusk people were sleeping under and on the picnic tables. There are lot of pines in the site, just not much flat ground.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Ridefreemc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
    Depending on the trees, that's one situation where a hammock would come in handy. I've stayed at the hike and bike site at Castle Crags SP in northern California, which has most of the flat space taken up by two or three picnic tables, with two other two-man sized flat spots nearby. It can get a lot of Pacific Crest trail hikers there, since it's where the PCT crosses I-5, and has the first store and hot showers for many days hike in either direction. I've always arrived fairly early there to beat the worst of the summer heat, but by dusk people were sleeping under and on the picnic tables. There are lot of pines in the site, just not much flat ground.
    In the EGs where there are trees there is normally a lot of water. Areas to the west of the park have oaks and pines though.

    Deeper in where I go by boat there are only mangroves and you just can't get in the forest without cutting yourself up bad (barnacles, oysters, etc.). Not even sure you could get in at all since the roots are so tall and knarly, but in an emergency you might be able to. I hammock a lot and just can't see how it would work in all situations. I do know of a few areas with both dry land and trees though, just far and few between.
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