CAMPSITE REVIEW: Long Pine Key Campground, Everglades National Park
Dump/Water On-site: Yes; potable water is at the dump station near the front entrance
Amenities: Bathrooms, hot and cold shower houses
This campground is in the Everglades National Park but is managed by a third-party. That was good for us because we were able to stay here during the government shutdown. We stayed for 8 nights at the beginning of January 2019.
First, the website shows that sites are first-come, first-serve except for a limited number of sites that can be reserved. I called and was told reservations were not accepted so we took our chances on getting a spot. When we arrived, the agent stated that there were only 3 spots available for the 3 nights we were going to originally stay (we weren’t sure about connectivity). Needless to say, that was incorrect, there were tons of spots available for the time frame we were there. Anyway, we also found out that they do take reservations somewhere on-line, but I couldn’t find the website for it. We stayed three nights in spot #5. It was a good spot, but our solar was struggling because it was in shade most of the afternoon. We decided to stay a few extra days to explore more. Connectivity was not an issue – Verizon has 3-4 bars without booster. AT&T has no service though. With our booster, we were able to get about 1-2 bars of AT&T and thankfully one of our phones as Wi-Fi call capability, so we were able to make and receive calls. Keep that in mind if you are AT&T only. The campground Flamingo about 40 miles from this campground does have AT&T connectivity, but we didn’t explore the campground to see how it compared.
When we decided to stay longer, we were told we had to move because someone reserved spot #5. That was fine because we wanted to move spots for better solar anyway. The agent said she couldn’t look up which spots were available for the time frame we wanted, but we could drive around and find a few spots we wanted and then she could look it up. That seemed weird, but we did that. We found that spot #66 had great access to solar in the mid-late afternoon so chose it. Thankfully that spot was available. There was some confusion about whether we could reserve it or not. Each person we spoke to said something different, but after many tries, it ended up working out and we were able to stay longer.
We stayed another 5 nights at our new spot #66. Solar was much better there, and we had a nice view of the lake. Both spots we were on were level and it seemed most in the park were level. The road coming in is paved so no issues with accessibility. Since the campground is in the park, you do have to pay the entrance fee, but we have the national park pass. Of course, because of the shutdown there was no one at the gate anyway.
We didn’t inspect the bathrooms or shower houses, but the park was clean and well-maintained. They have a camp host on-site and we did not see any issues that were seen in other parks because of the shutdown. For some reason, the dumpsters were not emptied until our last day there so some people had put their trash next to the dumpsters, but it was otherwise clean. Very quiet and peaceful as well.
The campground has a lot of slash pine trees which give some shade, but still allows some solar. There were not a ton of good spots for solar IMO (at least in the winter), but anything by the lake would be good. There are no hookups at this site, but they do have potable water and a dump station near the entrance to the campground.
Tons of things to do near this campground. There are trails and of course exploring the Everglades. Homestead/Florida City is about a 20 min drive and you can get groceries, gas and whatever you need there. Robert is Here is a nice fruit stand in Florida City you may want to check out. Worth a trip to the Flamingo visitor center to see crocodiles and manatees. I would also recommend the Royal Palm visitor center and the anhinga trail.
Overall, despite the confusion and frustration over the reservations, it was a nice place and we would stay again. It is closed in the summer months which makes sense, it would be way too hot, and mosquito infested for the summer. Mosquitos were tolerable when we were there, but you need bug spray.