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Old 02-28-2007, 05:44 PM   #1
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Smile Camping the Keys

The follwing is my expereience in the Key last January and February.

After attending the Can Opener I left my sisters in Jacksonville and headed south. I wound my way to the Keys via Naples.

A leisurely jaunt through the everglades and finally to the keys. The ride down to Key West was trying. It took me over four hours to get there. The problem; road construction. Can’t avoid it. I was “detained” for an hour just south of Islamorada. The road is two lanes most of the way. Take your time and plan for at least three hours to get from Key Largo to Key West.

I spent a week in Key West at Boyd’s Campground. They are the only ones left. The KOA was sold and will become Condos.

Boyd’s was built in the 60’s when RVs were smaller. This means the spaces are tight. They do have some by the water but you have to reserve those well ahead of time. Boyd’s is also the most expensive Campground I have ever been in. Including taxes it was over $100 a night. A lot cheaper than staying in a Hotel but no bargin. The staff was friendly and helpful. No WIFI was available, only dialup.

As far as what to do in Key West? The list of what not to do is shorter. You can do just about anything. I heavily indulged in water sports. I went snorkeling almost every day as well as Para Sailing, Wave running, Banana boat ridding, and Salt Water Fly fishing. I had a blast! Oh yeah the Dry Tortugas are worth a visit. You can camp out there in a tent.

After leaving Key West I headed north. Well it was the only I could head! I stopped in Key Largo. It was the first place I could find a Camping spot. All of the rest of the State Camp Grounds were full. Next time I want to stop a Bahia Honda. It is right on the beach and looks really nice. For a full listing of the Parks see their website. Welcome to the Official Florida Online Parks Guide!!
I called the two campgrounds listed in the guide I had. One did not even answer the phone. The other Kings Campground had a spot for me. A small spot. A tight spot. I had to back out of the park since I did not have enough room to turn around.

Once I dropped the Trailer. I went exploring. I stopped by the other RV place and they totally ignored me. Obviously they have too much business. My advice John Pennekamp State park or bust!

All of the state parks in the Keys are magnificent.
Pick one, pick them all! Spend a few days at each and relax. Remember to bring the Sun Block!
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Old 02-28-2007, 06:35 PM   #2
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Great review Michelle, sounds like you had a lot of fun. Care to show us some pictures? Nice to hear that there are great state parks to camp in. I know the KOA I stayed at in Flordia was going condos too.

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Old 02-28-2007, 07:00 PM   #3
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Michelle, did you dip into Long Key SP? It's just a long strip of land with some tree cover that faces the ocean, camp sites a jump from the water. Kayacking among the mangroves was suggested for an activity there. I tried over a month calling daily to make reservations for this past Jan or Feb and couldn't get in through Reserve America. Tell us about John Pennekamp, please. Thanks, ~G
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Old 02-28-2007, 07:04 PM   #4
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For you that have access to military bases, the navy has great rv parks in Key West. Always room but might have to boondock for a period. Good clubs - marina - yacht club - exchange - boat rental - etc.
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Old 02-28-2007, 07:05 PM   #5
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Florida in a better light now?

Michelle, it sounds like maybe some of the "Florida is cursed" forces you felt when you first came into the state abated in the Keys. I'm glad you had a great time. Did you dive Pennekamp? Lucky you. I've wanted to go there since I was a kid.
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Old 02-28-2007, 07:08 PM   #6
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Awesome Trip report !!!!! looks like you had a blast !!! I look forward to do the Keys someday!
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Old 02-28-2007, 08:14 PM   #7
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The Keys

We have tent camped Bahia Honda twice, and it is a truly great state park, with the best beaches on the Keys, and a great large reef to snorkel a short boat ride out. You have to call to reserve a site one year in advance, as it is the most popular place, but well worth it if you can plan that far ahead. We hope to get down there with the Argosy in the next year or two.
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:07 PM   #8
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Some of the cursed wore off. My windshield is still cracking. I am going to have to get that replaced. The dent in the trailer will be fixed in a couple of weeks.
I did not stop at Long Key. I will put that on my list for next time.
John Pennekamp state park is wonderful. It is not your "normal" state park. You can snorkel which I did, twice, you can kayak, they have an aquarium, they have walking trails. It is a nice place to visit. I looked at the camping area and it was by far the nicest in Key Largo. Plenty of room, water and Electric hookups. Dump station near by.

Enough for tonight. Trying to fight off a cold.. time for bed.
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Old 02-28-2007, 10:32 PM   #9
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Very tough to get into any of the Keys State Parke (Pennekamp, Long Key, Curry Hammock, Bahia Honda) during the winter without reserving almost a year out. The "regulars" have learned to game the system -- you make a 1 day reservation the first day it is available (say Jan 15), the next day another day becomes available so you call ReserveAmerica and change your existing reservation to Jan 15 + 16. The next day the same thing -- you call and change it to Jan 15-17. Tis way you "walk" your reservation until you get the max 14 days in one park, then you start on the next one. No competition as no one but the gamers are looking for a single day. There is a $8.50 charge every time they change the reservation but since the State Park fee is $26 per day and the commercial parks get $65 plus, you are still way ahead.

In the summer, there is a troop of urban "regulars" (mostly from Miami) who tie up every site every weekend by doing essentially the same thing.

If you talk to the rangers, they will tell you they see the same rigs year after year in the same spots.

I live in Miami and the only way I have ever gotten in was to check ReserveAmerica.Com every night and hope for a cancellation. One pops up now and then so I have gotten 3 nights in Bahia Honda and 3 nights in Curry Hammock in the last year....

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Old 03-01-2007, 02:03 PM   #10
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I tented it in Long Key SP about 15 years ago, and then we visited the park when we were visiting my parents two years ago....It was the week between Christmas and New Years, and we were dying to have had our Safari with us... Nice park put it is tough to get in. Wading at sunset in the ocean right off your campsite and watching sand sharks swim by your feet is something really cool. Me and Shelly will someday camp there.

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Old 03-01-2007, 04:11 PM   #11
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Thanks for the great trip report. Becki and I picked up a Florida camping guide once just because it had a photo of a camper right on the beach...turned out to be a camp ground in the Keys. I think it was Boyd's. We really want to camp there some day soon. For now we have to "settle" for camp grounds on the panhandle if we want to camp "at" the beach and hike over the dunes.
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Old 03-01-2007, 04:38 PM   #12
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Michelle sounds like a blast. Keep me informed if you are going to make it thru here. We have a friend that installs windshields.
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Old 03-01-2007, 05:38 PM   #13
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I had a blast I just got the Credit card bills. Ouch. Still a lot of fun and a once in couple of years experience. I will let you know. I expect to be there the night of the 16th. One night only if I am going to make the West Coast womens rally.
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Old 03-03-2007, 02:37 PM   #14
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Old 04-13-2007, 09:03 PM   #15
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my parents just got back from a trip to the keys. they went all the way to key west, and they were trying to do it cheaply. they have this to report: key west is very RV unfriendly. other than Boyds (which is expensive) there really isn't anywhere to park your rig that you won't be asked to move, or risk a tow/ticket. they 'docked at an Elks lodge or a Moose lodge or something, but were only able to stay a day or two. all in all, they enjoyed their trip, but the portion spent in key west was less enjoyable than they had hoped
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Old 04-14-2007, 12:00 AM   #16
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While down in the keys by boat last year I found a great new little RV park called Curry Hammock. It is state run and located on Little Crawl Key. The RV park is new and you won't find mention of it . Here is the link to the sate park info.
Main Page - Curry Hammock State Park » Florida State Parks

While we were there, wild dolphins were popping up in the lillte lagoon to greet vistors. A manatee was rumored to live there too and we befriended a few hermit crabs on the beach as well.
Some Canadians that I met who were staying at the RV park said that the place was getting booked up a year in advance since it opened.

This Google satellite image shows the park under construction.

It is the land mass on the left. You can clearly see the RV sites. The land mass to the right is Valhalla Resort, the last little bit of funky old keys hospitality left. We found it by accident while trying to hole up during a storm on our way to the Bahamas to watch filming of Pirates Of the Carribbean!
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Old 04-14-2007, 06:40 AM   #17
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What a "warming" thread to read for us up in New England. Thanks for the travel log and helpful information as we are thinking of a "Keys" camping trip next winter.
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