Long Key State Park
Get immersed in the natural beauty of the Florida Keys at Long Key State Park. The park features tent or RV camping among a series of lagoons and trails and excellent hiking, beachcombing, boating, snorkeling, and other outdoor tropical fun. A former luxury resort for the elite, the park is open to the public for day-use or extended camping.
The island where the Florida State Park is located today once served as a work camp with cottages and a lodge for railroad workers in the early 1900s as they lay track to Key West. Upon completion of the railroad, the camp became the Long Key Fishing Camp. But in 1935, a powerful hurricane swept the lodge, cottages, and railroad away. Today, you can visit a small exhibit of exposed railroad tie buried for decades.
You can enjoy the park as a day trip for a low fee per vehicle. Bicyclists and pedestrians are charged an even lower fee. Hike the park’s 1.1-mile Golden Orb nature trail, a part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. The trail begins with a boardwalk and leads to the beach through mangrove swamp, salt flats, coastal berm, and rockland hammock habitats.
You’re sure to spot plenty of fascinating wildlife such as seasonal migrating birds, horseshoe crabs, wading and shore birds like herons and egrets. Kayakers will find fish on the shallow grass flats, sea turtles, and loggerhead turtles. Once at the beach, you’ll have an area with picnic tables, a chickee hut, and a wooden platform with lattice work.
The park has 60 full facility campsites that overlook the Atlantic. They can accommodate tents, RVs up to 45-foot, and trailers. Each have water and electric hookups, a picnic table, grill, a fire ring, and drinking water, hot showers, and a dump station. Two group campsites are available that share restroom facilities. Make your reservations up to 11 months in advance.
RV camping at the park will present the chance for plenty of exciting water sports. There’s plenty of snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and boating. No boat ramps are available for vessels larger than the size of canoes or kayaks. These can be launched from the beach. You can bring your own kayak or canoe or rent a kayak at the park to explore the shoreline.
Boat ramps for motorboats and sailboats are located only three miles from the park at two RV resorts. For the best boating experience, take along nautical charts to help navigate the shallows, shoals, and grass flats. These can be purchased at bait shops across the Keys. Unless you know where you are, you could run aground, break a propeller, or damage protected areas. You will be fined for this. Luckily, the surf at the park is usually gentle. If you aren’t familiar with the area, go out with a guide the first few times.
If you’re an avid angler, but don’t have a boat or care for boating, you’re in luck. This Florida State Park has legendary fishing, some of the best around. The bridges leading onto and off the park are excellent places to cast your line, especially the Channel 2 and Channel 5 that cross Fiesta Key from Islamorada. Originally railroad bridges, they were later paved for cars and now serve as fishing piers. A few of the bridges on the Long Key Viaduct have fishing balconies.
For fishing while boating, the best places to cast are the Gulf Stream, the Florida Bay flats, and on the offshore reefs. If you are unfamiliar with the waters, go with a local guide the first few times. Book drift fishing trips at the local marina. You can also fly fish off the campground flats. In some places, it’s possible to wade out a few hundred yards.
A fishing license is required in Florida even when casting from the shore. Florida residents over 65 are exempt with a state-issued driver’s license or ID.
The park’s camping sites have grills, but you’ll want to dine out a few times to sample the local cuisine. Try the Cuban-influenced dishes at Habanos at Caloosa Cove. For fine dining and excellent seafood, head to the Key Colony Inn. For spectacular sunsets and the freshest seafood, the Islamorada Fish Company has a tiki bar and outdoor patio on the bayside.
For more information, please visit the Long Key State Park webpage on floridastateparks.org or call 305.664.4815.