With the destruction of the Flamingo Lodge, there is no lodging within Everglades National Park proper unless you count your tent as lodging. However, there are a few accommodations just outside the park that are clean and reasonably priced. A $45-million casino hotel, Miccosukee Resort (tel. 877/242-6464; www.miccosukee.com), is adjacent to the Miccosukee bingo and gaming hall on the northern edge of the park. Although bugs can be a major nuisance, especially in the warm months, camping (the best way to fully experience South Florida's wilderness) is really the way to go in this very primitive environment.
Camping In The Everglades
Campgrounds are available year-round in Flamingo and Long Pine Key. Both have drinking water, picnic tables, charcoal grills, restrooms, and tent and trailer pads, and welcome RVs (Flamingo allows up to 40-ft. vehicles, while Long Pine Key accepts up to 60-footers), though there are no electrical hookups. Flamingo has cold-water showers; Long Pine Key does not have showers or hookups for showers. Private ground fires are not permitted, but supervised campfire programs are conducted during winter months. Long Pine Key and Flamingo are popular and require reservations in advance, which can be made through the National Park Reservations Service (tel. 800/365-CAMP ; www.nps.gov). Campsites are $16 per night, and during winter season (Nov-Apr), there's a 14-day consecutive-stay limit, and a maximum of 30 days a year.
Camping is also available year-round in the backcountry (those remote areas accessible only by boat, foot, or canoe -- basically most of the park), on a first-come, first-served basis. Campers must register with park rangers and get a permit in person or by phone no less than 24 hours before the start of their trip. Permits cost $10 plus $2 per camper per night. For more information, contact the Gulf Coast Visitor Center (tel. 239/695-3311) or the Flamingo Visitor Center (tel. 239/695-2945), which are the only two places that give out these permits. Once you have one, camping sites cost $16 (with a maximum of eight people per site), or $30 for a group site (maximum of 15 people). Campers can use only designated campsites, which are plentiful and well marked on visitor maps.
Many backcountry sites are chickee huts -- covered wooden platforms (with toilets) on stilts. They're accessible only by canoe and can accommodate free-standing tents (without stakes). Ground sites are located along interior bays and rivers, and beach camping is also popular. In summer especially, mosquito repellent is necessary gear.
Lodging In Everglades City
As Everglades City is 35 miles southeast of Naples and 83 miles west of Miami, many visitors choose to explore this western entrance to Everglades National Park, located off the Tamiami Trail, on S.R. 29. An annual seafood festival held the first weekend in February is a major event that draws hordes of people. Everglades City (the gateway to the Ten Thousand Islands), where the 'Glades meet the Gulf of Mexico, is the closest thing you'll get to civilization in South Florida's swampy frontier, with a few tourist traps -- er, shops -- a restaurant, and one bed-and-breakfast.
Lodging in Homestead & Florida City
Homestead and Florida City, two adjacent towns that were almost blown off the map by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, have come back better than before. About 10 miles from the park's main entrance, along U.S. 1, 35 miles south of Miami, these somewhat rural towns offer several budget options, including chain hotels. There is a Days Inn (tel. 305/245-1260) in Homestead and a Ramada Inn (tel. 800/272-6232 or 305/247-8833) right off the turnpike in Florida City. The best options are listed below.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.