Camping in the Florida Keys: The Upper Keys (Part 1)
Posted on 02/03/2012
Let’s share some information if you plan to go camping or rving in the Florida Keys. First, let me organize the information that will be covered in multiple posts: The keys can be divided in three main regions: upper keys, middle keys and the lower keys.
This first post will be mostly about the upper keys, which are in the region closer to the continental United States and the first islands you’ll find in your trip.
The main keys included in this group are Key Largo, Plantation, Lower and Upper Matacumbe (there are also many small islands, some of them only accessible by boat).
If you haven’t gone you must know that there is only one highway that go from key to key connected through bridges and which is properly named the Overseas Highway (US1), so, being the only main road across the keys be patience with the delay if there is an accident during your visit.
The directions through the Overseas Highway may be given by Mile Markers and can be also mentions to Ocean Side, meaning East side of the road and Bayside for the West side.
You need to be aware that RVs can’t park and stay overnight almost nowhere in the Florida Keys so plan accordingly (means look for a campground because they get busy here).
You can check the following google area map of the Florida Keys to familiarize yourself and click here for the National Marine sanctuary Map (more info about the sanctuary in this page of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
For defining the actual place to camp follows a list of campground. Some are a little tight to navigate so get some information if you travel in a big motorhome.
FLORIDA UPPER KEYS CAMPGROUNDS
This RV Park has 55 sites and it is located right on Blackwater Sound.
Go to this link to check their rental index.
Location: Mile Marker 103.5 (Bayside)
This is a resort located in Key Largo close to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
Check this link for campground map, prices and reservations (there are also some photos in their website).
Location: Mile Marker 101.5 (Bayside)
JOHN PENNEKAMP STATE PARK
This popular Florida State Park has a campground with 47 sites for tents and RV with full hookup (30-50 amps), picnic table and grill.
Click here for information about reservations and map (Park main page here).
Location: Mile Marker 102.5 (Ocean side)
RIPTIDE RV RESORT
This park has 39 full-hookup sites and according to their website offers free cable and Wi-Fi.
Check here for more information about the park.
Location: 97680 Overseas Highway (Bayside)
KEY LARGO KAMPGROUND & MARINA
Another campground near the John Pennekamp State Park, in the south side of Key Largo. One good thing of this place is that there are many businesses nearby (K-Mart, Publix Supermarket, etc).
Location: Mile Marker 101.5 (Bayside)
Check map and pricing here.
MORE ON THE UPPER KEYS
You can enter to the Florida Keys through the busy (and free) main entrance traveling through the US1, be aware that this road has just one lane in each direction with some portions widened to two for passing slower traffic.
There is another less transited road that may be interesting to travel and will take you to North Key Largo, the Card Sound Road. You need to turn left just around a mile after passing the Palm Drive intersection in Florida City.
This road has less traffic and you can stop at the old and famous Alabama Jack’s. (Check their website here and for some history about the Card Sound Community go to this page). This area is isolated and there are not many facilities besides this restaurant but you can get some nice photos around the Card Sound Bridge.
The road continuos to North Key Largo and the surrounding wild area are part of the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge (the refuge is closed to the public). Also there are a couple of places to launch a boat along the way.
Reaching the intersection with Highway 905 turn right (to the south), to the north there is only the exclusive Ocean Reef Club.
Traveling the Highway 905 and almost reaching the intersection of the Overseas Highway you can visit the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park (it will be on your left). This is a very small state park with trails for walking or biking and picnic tables.
In the intersection with the Overseas Highway there is a sort of an information center (also for reservations) where you can ask some questions.
Click here for the part 2 of this post.