Long Key State Park
There are three state parks in the Florida Keys that offer camping options: John Pennekamp State Park, Long Key State Park and Bahia Honda State Park. Long Key is in the middle of the other two options and is located not too far south of Islamorada. I’ve written about John Pennekamp State Park before in a previous story here.
If you’re familiar with the Florida Keys, you know it is a bit of a drive to get from Miami to Key West. The scenery is fantastic and it is a pleasant drive – but it does take some time. We encountered quite a bit of traffic due to one of the keys having an art festival which backed traffic up on the only road in and out of the keys so be prepared to take your time and enjoy the journey. There’s also only two lanes on much of the journey so relax and look at all there is to take in.
The nearest village is Layton with a tiny population of about 200 at Mile Marker 68.5. It’s still amusing to see Layton call itself a “city” but it does. It even has a “city hall” and “city limit” signs. If Nutbush were tropical, this is what it would be, I imagined. It does boast two convenience stores – both of which we visited on our bicycles from the campground so you have options if you forget anything on your camping trip. There isn’t much of anything else on the island so be prepared for that.
You’ll settle in easily at the campground which is on one road with the main highway on the one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. All the sites are directly on the ocean and we saw plenty of larger motor homes easily navigating themselves into the sites. Our 30 footer fit perfectly with plenty of room. The bathhouses were immaculate. Picnic tables and fire rings were at all sites and campfire wood was for sale at the office for $5 cash for a bundle. There were plenty of tent campers located on the lower numbered sites as these sites are much smaller and can’t accommodate an RV. The reservations system is great and allows you to really select a good site.
This campground fills up fast – as do the others in the Florida Keys – so plan your visit well in advance. While camping here we saw some iguanas and some large crabs that lived in fairly large holes that they dug in the ground. There are hundreds of these things. And you can’t quite get a good picture of them because as soon as you sneak up on one they race away back into their hole. But they are interesting and various colors. So, if you go and see lots of holes in the ground you’ll wonder no more what they are.
The nature trails at the park are great for walking. We rode our bicycles up to the trails from the camping section and walked the boardwalk trail around to the parking lot and then did the other trail which is a lot longer. I wouldn’t suggest doing it in summer without water as there are sections of the trail that have no shade at all.
Rhe views along the water are great and the natural environment you walk through is incredible. There are picnic tables and grills under shelter on the boardwalk trail and I would imagine would be used mostly by day trippers to the park. But then so is your own campsite for that matter.
We did take our bicycles to the convenience store as I mentioned and along the way there is a nature path on the other side of US 1 from the state park that we ventured into. It led to the Gulf of Mexico and is a pleasant diversion.
On this side of the road is the Lime Tree Bay Resort. We didn’t go into it but I should think there might be a bar and there were rentals of canoes and kayaks on this side of the road if the resort doesn’t allow non-guests to rent.
If you’re looking for a relaxing camp experience, Long Key State Park really offers a great getaway but not so remote that you can’t pick up a bottle of Gatorade if you need it. You can go directly into the Atlantic Ocean from your campsite if you want. We did and it is very shallow. We went out quite a distance and the water never got beyond our waists by any means.
Still it is nice to float in and plenty of people put their beach chairs directly in the water in front of their campsites. It is very relaxing. So get out there and relax!