SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.


» Welcome Guest
[ Log In :: Register ]

 

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]

reply to topic new topic new poll
Topic: Anyone camped in the Dry Tortugas?, Or the Everglades?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
DaveG Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 359
Joined: Apr. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 12:41 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My wife and I are heading down to Florida at the end of March. We've made ferry reservations to get to the Dry Tortugas and also have reserved a campsite in the Everglades for several nights.

We'll be tent camping -- mostly car camping except for the Dry Tortugas which sounds closer to backpacking.

In the NPS brochure for camping on the Dry Tortugas, it reads "All camping gear must be freestanding." But that's in the context of "Do not attach anything to a tree."

None of my backpacking tents are "freestanding" as I use the term, i.e., they all have to be staked out. My read is that what the NPS means by "freestanding" is different; i.e., no lines supporting a tent can be attached to trees.

Can anyone familiar with the Dry Tortugas tell me if a tent that has to be staked to the ground (but does not have to be attached to anything else) for support is considered "freestanding?"

Would also welcome any tips and comments about camping at the Dry Tortugas or the Everglades.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 2
OldGuyWalkin Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 158
Joined: Nov. 2012
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 12:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Dry Tortugas is a really nice place.
Pack water. There is none unless it rains.

I am assuming you are going to Ft. Jefferson. It's a great place. You can sort of call it car camping, but the car is a long boat ride. So backpacking plus?

Stakes won't hold. My best memory is that it is sand. And a lot of it. If you have a ground cover to use as a "porch" you can keep some of the sand out.

Pack water.

Pack your windscreen for your stove. The wind always blows.

Check the weather. Once the last boat leaves in the afternoon, you are stuck there until the next one comes.

We had a good time. We were there for a day, but if you are into snorkeling, I could see making it a 2 or 3 day trip.

I have no info on Everglades.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 3
bumknees Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 765
Joined: Feb. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 1:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have been to Dry Tortugas.  The soil is sandy, and the area is cramped, hence no lines.  I would assume stakes are okay.  The island is small, with a huge fort to tour, and nice snorkeling.  Other than that, sun & sand, with a influx of people every time a ferry arrives.  There was also a picnic area.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 4
ol-zeke Search for posts by this member.
Clear Creek
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 13017
Joined: Sep. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 1:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have spent several nights camping in Everglades.  Where are you camping?  On Chickees, and on some ground sites, there are platforms that you have to set up on.  No place for a stake there.  Beach sites vary in their ability to hold a stake.  I would venture to guess that any campsite accessible by car would have ground adequate for stakes.  My experience has been kayaking there, and most of those sites would require a free standing tent.

I have no ideas about the Dry Tortugas, but if there is sand, then you can take plastic grocery bags and fill them  with sand, then tie out to them instead of using stakes.  


--------------
Everything I know, I learned by doing it wrong at least twice.

"I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth."  Steve McQueen
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 5
botanist Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 74
Joined: Jul. 2008
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 22 2013, 1:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have also been to the everglades.  We camped at a front country site (NPS campground) one night and had raccoon visitors destroy the tent.  We also camped on chickees, which was a lot of fun.  Watching alligators swim underneath you is kind of unnerving.  

We were also there in March and it was REALLY hot.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 6
DaveG Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 359
Joined: Apr. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 23 2013, 12:13 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Good info, especially about the need for sand stakes. Had completely overlooked that. Thanks all.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 7
rangersven Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 3651
Joined: Jul. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 23 2013, 9:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice place; very quiet and remote.  I spent half a day snorkeling there and enjoyed it.  Really nice beach, too.  Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.  Give the park service a call for clarification.  I met a really nice marine biologist ( a cute blond) who was doing research in the waters around the park and had an interesting discussion.

The fort is fun to explore and I bet you'll have a wonderful night camping under the stars...!!!  There are several islands within the park's boundary; however, you need a boat to get around and explore 'em.  Shallow waters and snorkeling works just fine.

Enjoy your trip...!!!  And bring bug spray for "the Glades"...

Happy Trails,

RS


--------------
"Backpacker.com's Original Provocateur."
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 8
jmitch Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1610
Joined: Feb. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 23 2013, 11:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have camped at Flamingo.  Very nice with some sites near the ocean with great views across the water and many small keys.  Great birdlife, a rookery is nearby.  I was there in winter and surprisingly not crowded.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 9
Roger Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2108
Joined: Feb. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 23 2013, 7:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Car camping in the everglades is similar to that of most national parks.  There are two campgrounds in the park.  The one at Long Pine Key is as the name implies in the woods.  Flamingo is where the other campground is located.  They have drive in sites for RV and non-RVs.  The non-RV sites are primary tent sites.  There is also a large open area for tent camping where you carry your stuff to the site.  This area is where large groups camp.  They now have solar hot water showers at Flamingo and they work great!  The number of raccoons has greatly decreases presumably due to the pythons.  In the last three trips to Flamingo I did not see one raccoon in the campground. Do not sit plastic containers of water in the open at Flamingo.  The crows will pick a hole in the container and drink their fill.  

If you are planning on going into the backcountry download the wilderness planner.  Fresh water is a price for the animals in the back county and must be protected from them!


--------------
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 10
Neville Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1594
Joined: Feb. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 25 2013, 12:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Regarding Dry Tortugas....

At the end of March it's probably going to be a bit warm. I was there in January a few years back and it was just about right.

As others have mentioned, bring your own water.  The cistern on the island is available for the rangers that live there.  

I stuffed everything I needed in my backpack plus I carried a daypack on the boat with some extras.  Put your food into either a hard container or a rodent bag because there are rats on the island and they will get into your stuff if you're not careful. I used an Ursack Minor.

The camp area is fairly large with the nice areas being under a small grove of trees. If you don't get under the trees there's an overflow area that's out in the sun.  I'm assuming that January is probably an optimal time for camping, but even so I think there was only two or three tents while I was there.  There are tent poles in the camp area that you should hang your food and smelly items to keep them away from the aforementioned rats.  As far as staking out the tent, I used a Tarptent Sublite (definitely not free standing) and I had no issues, but I would agree that they probably don't want you throwing lines over the tree limbs.

There are privies on the island, but the volunteers told us that they remain locked while the tour boat is there.  I'm thinking that they wanted all of those people to use the facilities on the boat instead of overusing the small number by the camp area. After the boat leaves then they unlock the privies.

In addition to the weather, keep in mind the lunar schedule. If it's a full moon you may get an orientation about Cuban refugees hitting the island.  I was there during a full moon, and while none showed up some did land on the island during a previous full moon.  We were told that they wouldn't bother anyone and that you should start knocking on doors inside the fort should you see some make landfall.  I'm not kidding about this orientation. What I've told you here is almost verbatim what they told me.

The rangers were out and about but none of them ever said a word to us.  The volunteers there and on the boats coordinated everything.  In fact, the only time I saw a ranger was when the boat arrived. After that they were practically non-existent.

I definitely enjoyed myself there.  One of the best non-backpacking camping excursions I've had.  There was nothing like walking on the outer wall around the fort in the middle of the night under a full moon.


Here are a few photos of the camp area:







Here's a link to my album if you want to see more:

http://houstonkemper.smugmug.com/Nationa...._ZKhBxN
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 11
ol-zeke Search for posts by this member.
Clear Creek
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 13017
Joined: Sep. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 25 2013, 12:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for posting the link.  Enjoyed it very much.  

--------------
Everything I know, I learned by doing it wrong at least twice.

"I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth."  Steve McQueen
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 12
Neville Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1594
Joined: Feb. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 25 2013, 1:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ol-zeke @ Feb. 25 2013, 12:59 am)
QUOTE
Thanks for posting the link.  Enjoyed it very much.  

Anytime.  Get out there for a visit when you get the chance.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 13
DaveG Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 359
Joined: Apr. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 11:09 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks again, everyone. Special thanks to Neville for the info on the Dry Tortugas. Loved your pics. We'll be spending two nights there. Really looking forward to it.

As to warm -- I like warm. I'm looking for warm.

Cuban refugees. Never would have thought of that.

And not mentioned -- vultures. We'll be staying at Flamingo campground in the Everglades. The website warns visitors to take precautions against vultures. Apparently they like to tear up the rubber on windshields and other car parts.

The things one learns when planning a trip.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 14
ol-zeke Search for posts by this member.
Clear Creek
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 13017
Joined: Sep. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 11:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Flamingo-- Some folks put a tarp over their car, but most did not.  Roger and I have left his car there for 5-6 days with no tarp and no damage.  May be anecdotal info, though.  If you decide to grab a burger or some other food at the restaurant, be prepared for a wait.  Every cook I have seen there is slow.  Wait staff is fun.  

Roger is on the money about crows pecking holes in the jugs of water.  We lost at least 2 there to crows.  Solar showers are great, especially if you haven't seen a shower for a week.  Indoors, with all of the amenities + hot water.  Nice little market there to buy beer and a few other things, but it will be $$ since it is so far from anything else.

While in the area, make sure you hike the Anhinga boardwalk, where the tarps are provided by the park.  And stop at Robert Is Here Fruit Stand in Homestead.  You have to drive right past it to get to Flamingo, and the milk shakes and smoothies are great!  $5.25 gets you a wide variety of flavors and fresh fruit.  


--------------
Everything I know, I learned by doing it wrong at least twice.

"I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth."  Steve McQueen
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 15
Neville Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1594
Joined: Feb. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 6:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll chime in on the vulture thing...

At the Royal Palm parking area around the Anhinga boardwalk the critters were out in full force.  Not sure what prompts them to choose one vehicle over another, but I'd stay away from red trucks.  They weren't just sitting there, they were going to town on the rubber around the windows and doors.  Shooing them away didn't do any good:

Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
14 replies since Feb. 22 2013, 12:41 pm < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]


 
reply to topic new topic new poll

» Quick Reply Anyone camped in the Dry Tortugas?
iB Code Buttons
You are posting as:

Do you wish to enable your signature for this post?
Do you wish to enable emoticons for this post?
Track this topic
View All Emoticons
View iB Code



Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions