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Stealth Camping in Florida Impossible?

Old 04-23-17, 06:05 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Have you ever heard of a single case where a bike tourist was attacked by a gator? Or a case where someone sleeping in a tent was? I know that I haven't.....
https://www.theguardian.com/australi...hern-territory

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Old 04-25-17, 07:06 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Semipedersen View Post
Stay at the Bahia Honda state park on Big Pine Key it iis really nice. Watch out for the key deers
I second that, raccoons were a menace though.
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Old 04-25-17, 07:42 PM
  #28  
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Does the walk on ferry still run from Key West to Ft Meyers

Years ago people camped on the spit of land at the foot of the bridges, not limited to but including the local winos.

Bring deet! Big bottle. Central Florida is rural, do you get up at the crack of dawn? From your stealth camp.
The local constiblary may not want you camped on the beach near the houses.
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Old 04-26-17, 06:44 PM
  #29  
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There is a Youth Hostel in Florida City, the last city between the mainland and Key Largo.
It is roughly 168 miles from the Walmart in Florida City to US-1 Mile Marker 0 in Key West.
There is a bike path beginning in Key Largo, to at least Marathon.
You can sleep without hassle on the benches outside the hospitals, in Tavernier and Marathon. (hospital in Taverneir is across a side street from McDonalds, Bay Side)
The bike path/lane does change from "Bay Side" (right hand side of US-1 going into the Keys. "Ocean Side" the left. Reverse when leaving the Keys)
There are gaps in the bike path/lane. Last time I was there, it had not been built yet from roughly MM 63 to MM 60 or 59.5. It picks up again, on the Bay Side, just past the Dolphin Research Center (where you can Swim with the Dolphins)
The bike path in Islamarada is Bay Side, and stops just past a bridge. It picks up again in Long Key, on the Ocean Side, and stops at roughly MM 63, just past the 3 Mile Bridge. There is a State Park in Long Key, but depending on the time of year, the camping spaces are all booked well in advanced, even the tent sites.
I strongly suggest you use tje pedestrian/bike lanes across the bridges whenever possible. It is a LOT safer than the auto lanes. Do watch out for fishermen, tents, abandoned hooks, etc. when crossing the bridges.
The bike lane picks up again on the Bay Side, like I said, at roughly MM 59. Watch for the signs, and get on it ASAP. US-1 is rather narrow, with virtually no shoulder in a lot of areas. The bike path continues to the foot of The Seven Mile Bridge, in Marathon., at roughly MM 48. Tgere is a campground atthe foot of The Seven Mile Bridge. I do not know if they charge for tent camping. Free sleeping in Marathon at the regional airport, (Bay Side, last time I was the terminal was open 24/7, even though no flights were expected overnight.) or at the hospital. (Ocean Side)

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Old 04-27-17, 09:22 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by chrisx View Post
Does the walk on ferry still run from Key West to Ft Meyers
....
Yup.

I took the Key West to Marco Island ferry two months ago. The ferry operator had free parking in Marco Island but charged for parking at Ft Meyers, that is why we chose Marco Island instead. If you take advantage of the parking, talk to the ferry staff first, if a vehicle will be parked there for several days they want to tell the parking lot manager that it is not abandoned. Our vehicle was in Marco Island for two weeks while we cycled Big Cyprus, Everglades, and the Keys. Had a great loop trip that finished with the ferry ride.

Your bike is lashed to a guard railing on the side of the boat next to the garbage bags. You have to carry on your panniers. They have some rules on carryons, but we had no problems.
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Old 04-27-17, 07:32 PM
  #31  
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The first story is a crocodile in Australia. Certainly simular animals, but not the same. The vid is a gator in an uninhabited tent in broad daylight. Gators tend to hunt at night, and it seems those people were not in the tent when the gator entered. Gators have ever preyed on people but they have to get really big and its not very common even then. They tend to avaoid people when possible.

On the other hand If you're stealth camping and you hear the grunting of ferral pigs rooting around I'd get worried. They are agressive and mean. Also for those who've never camped in Florida we have armadillos. And they are really clumsy, have bad eyesight and are loud at night. First time I went camping in Fl they scared the crap out of me because they make so much noise I figured it had to be a black bear (yes there are black bear in Florida). I felt pretty dumb when I shined my flashlight on an armadillo clomping through dead leaves. And yeah avoid fire ants at all costs.
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Old 04-27-17, 07:45 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Yup.
Our vehicle was in Marco Island for two weeks while we cycled Big Cyprus, Everglades, and the Keys. Had a great loop trip that finished with the ferry ride.
Looks like a fun route with a little more variety than just going from ~Miami to Key West & back. How was cross-state Rt 41? I read it has some traffic.
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Old 04-27-17, 07:54 PM
  #33  
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Here's an article that may be of interest. Doesn't say how many of the attacks were on stealth campers, but one can only imagine.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...ater/85916280/
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Old 04-27-17, 08:00 PM
  #34  
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Even golfers are under attack.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.foxsp...7%3Famp%3Dtrue
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Old 04-27-17, 10:48 PM
  #35  
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Many folks posting here are alarmist. Florida has a population of about 20 million people. Many million more visit Florida each year. Look at the graph in the link posted by alan s in post 33 - maximum number of alligator bites per year is only 15 - 15 bites per 20+ million people.

I spend time in Florida since my wife's parents live in central Florida. I live in Georgia, which has similar critters - gators, bears, boar, many snakes, etc. My friends and I regularly camp, backpack, and bike tour this area - gators are not a problem, snakes tend to avoid people, most wildlife tends to stay away from people.

My bet is that there are more bear attacks per year across the US and Canada than gator attacks (and it is likely there are far more gators than bears in North America), and many on this forum often recommend folks tour in beautiful places populated by bears, yet it is rear for folks to post so much fear about possible bear attacks.

Edit - This reminds me, I bikepacked part of the Palemetto Trail a couple of weeks ago. We started at Lake Moultrie, South Carolina. We camped by the lake shore twice, near a wildlife sanctuary. Saw lots of animals - bald eagle, turkey, snakes, rabbits, deer, turtles, etc. The second night we camped by the lake we went looking for gators and counted 17 in a 400 yard stretch of road in the sanctuary. None were interested in us or came to visit our campsite. Lake Moultrie produces many gators, some of enormous size. Here's are two gators pulled from the lake recently:




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Old 04-28-17, 05:40 AM
  #36  
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That graph shows two deaths in a 9 year period and the worst year 15 attacks. To put that into perspective... in data for Florida 23,939 people died in vehicular accidents in 2015. Of that 23,939 the data shows 150 were cyclists. Balance that against 1 gator death every 4.5 years for the whole population including visitors. Fatality Facts

That data doesn't make me too inclined to lose sleep over the likelihood of being attacked by a gator.
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Old 04-28-17, 07:13 AM
  #37  
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So, while the risk of being attacked by a bloodthirsty gator may not be that high compared to being killed on the road, I still would recommend picking your stealth campsite carefully. Stay away from gator nesting areas and water. Maybe a hammock several feet off the ground would be a good idea. Not sure how high they can leap. The size of some of those monsters makes a full grown adult look like a tasty snack.
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Old 04-28-17, 07:29 AM
  #38  
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Quick fact check says they can jump 6 feet. Not bad for a 13 foot long, 800 pound reptile.

https://www.reference.com/pets-anima...ff505feb98705#
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Old 04-28-17, 07:31 AM
  #39  
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slip into a campground after hours and gtfo before it opens
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Old 04-28-17, 09:27 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Looks like a fun route with a little more variety than just going from ~Miami to Key West & back. How was cross-state Rt 41? I read it has some traffic.
Highway 41 was pretty good. If my memory is correct, first several miles (I think less than 10) the surface was pretty rough. I had 40mm wide tires, but they were pumped up pretty hard. After than it was smooth. We started from Collier-Seminole State Park. (Drove to the park, set up camp, drove the vehicle to Marco Island to leave it there, rode the bikes back to the park.) There is a lot of traffic but the shoulder was more than adequate. I have done a lot of bike touring, but I never had a flat until Highway 41 when I did have a rear flat. There is a bit of debris on the shoulder.

I think the drivers are the same everywhere, but Highway 41 being in such a straight line, you might have more distracted drivers than average.

Photos are along that stretch. I suspected that this trip would have some good wildlife so I brought a camera with a powerful zoom.

The last photo is the campground we stayed at in the middle of Highway 41, I do not recall the name but it is on the map I posted. The RV portion of the campround was large and completely full, but less than a third of the tent sites were taken. I think it was a weekday.
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Old 04-29-17, 02:02 PM
  #41  
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Both times through Florida, I stealth camped every night. But that was along the panhandle. Looking at a map of south Florida, unless you are inland away from the coastal resorts, I can see it being a problem.

But with that said, once it gets night and you have a spot, it's nearly impossible for you to be discovered.

I have stealthed camped in areas that are heavy in alligators, in between New Orleans and Bay St Louis for example. The gators are the least of your problems, just don't camp right at the edge of a lake or pond in the wild.
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Old 04-29-17, 02:12 PM
  #42  
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@Tourist in MSN is that a roadside picnic area in that last photo? Nobody minds if you pitch your tents there?

EDIT: NM I saw that it was a campground. Sorry.
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Old 04-29-17, 07:48 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Highway 41 was pretty good. If my memory is correct, first several miles (I think less than 10) the surface was pretty rough. I had 40mm wide tires, but they were pumped up pretty hard. After than it was smooth. We started from Collier-Seminole State Park. (Drove to the park, set up camp, drove the vehicle to Marco Island to leave it there, rode the bikes back to the park.) There is a lot of traffic but the shoulder was more than adequate. I have done a lot of bike touring, but I never had a flat until Highway 41 when I did have a rear flat. There is a bit of debris on the shoulder.

I think the drivers are the same everywhere, but Highway 41 being in such a straight line, you might have more distracted drivers than average.

Photos are along that stretch. I suspected that this trip would have some good wildlife so I brought a camera with a powerful zoom.

The last photo is the campground we stayed at in the middle of Highway 41, I do not recall the name but it is on the map I posted. The RV portion of the campround was large and completely full, but less than a third of the tent sites were taken. I think it was a weekday.
Thanks for the info & pics...had to stare at the gator photo for a bit to see 'em, they blend in so well--I think the big one is smiling & winking, heh.
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Old 04-30-17, 06:30 AM
  #44  
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One more quick comment on that campground on Highway 41. Massive quantity of biting bugs. I was slow to put on repellent. I later regretted being too slow. After you slap two or three bugs, don't be patient like I was, put on the repellent right away.
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Old 05-01-17, 03:01 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
One more quick comment on that campground on Highway 41. Massive quantity of biting bugs. I was slow to put on repellent. I later regretted being too slow. After you slap two or three bugs, don't be patient like I was, put on the repellent right away.
I've spent a lot of time riding in Florida and camped in several different parts of the state. I will have to agree that the bugs in Collier-Seminole SP were the worst I have ever encountered anywhere. Paid to camp 2 nights, but left after one night and never looked back. I will not stay there again. I was there during the first week of November. Maybe other times of the year are not as bad.
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Old 05-02-17, 01:05 AM
  #46  
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One time near Daytona stopped to pee in the roadside scrub--road had near-zero mosquitoes but 2 m into the wild shrubbery was instantly attacked by swarms, wow.

Also IIRC while tent camping in Outer Banks NC we swatted about 200 skeeters before we lost count, a surprising number splattered some blood, heh.
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