There are many popular spots that almost every RVer wants to visit and camp at. However, over the decades, laws have changed, the property has been bought and there is no room for those who want to boondock or it is illegal to do so.
The consensus is that you cannot boondock anywhere in the Keys. Most of the land is privately owned and there are no overnight camping signs posted everywhere. Plus, there is a county ordinance banning overnight parking in store parking lots. This is not the place to boondock.
To learn more about this situation, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about BEFORE you set your travel plans for this area of Florida. Take a few minutes to see what options you have.
Nowhere. This has been emphatically stated on all the websites talking about this topic. Boondocking is okay in the northern areas of the state but the Keys have banned it in their area.
But if you want to try and break the law then you can go ahead and try but we do not recommend it. However, if you are set on going to the keys this winter, you need to phone ahead and make reservations at the many approved campgrounds in this region.
Plus, there is at least one campground where you can ‘boondock’ if you want. That campground does not offer any hook ups so it would be just like boondocking except you are paying for the privilege of staying there.
It is not as bad as you think, as you would be safer in that campground than if you were staying in a Walmart parking lot or a church parking lot. Boondockers are not as safe as they may think when they camp in a parking lot or in a little secluded area along the highway.
If you try to defy the laws and regulations, there have been many reports of being kicked out during the night that should persuade you not to try.
Technically you can but only if you are stopping for a short time and then moving on. Key West is a no overnight parking city and you could get fined for violating their laws.
We also checked the parking department for Key West and the city parking lots do not seem to be equipped to handle RVs for any length of time. If you tried parking there and were allowed, then the cost is $5 per hour and you have a maximum of a 10-hour stay.
How that applies to RVs is not mentioned but not one parking lot we saw on the list said RVs were welcome. Also, Key West is a no dumping city. This means that if you are caught using their sewer system to empty your tanks, you will be assessed a severe fine.
These laws are aggressively enforced and you should not make the attempt. There is also a county ordinance banning overnight parking in the box and other stores’ parking lots. This is not an area you want to try and boondock as you will be sent on your way.
The best thing to do is to postpone your visit for at least a year and book space in public and private campgrounds. These paid campgrounds fill up at least a year in advance.
Definitely not. There are signs posted everywhere banning this practice and you will not find anyone giving exceptions to this rule. Except maybe in the case of a medical emergency that forces you to remain in the area near a hospital or parked in their parking lot.
But even then you should check to see if that is even possible. One reason for this is that the roadways in Key West are said to be quite narrow in many cases. A parked RV would cause traffic problems when they park on the side of the road.
The recommendation is that you have a good, working, rear view camera to help you as you drive those narrow roads. Keep in mind that these ordinances and rules have been in place for at least 1 to 2 decades.
That means no authorities will give you an exception for not knowing about their parking laws. If you really want to stay in the Keys and even Key West you will have to book a spot in a campground and pay the overnight charges.
Yes, this area is expensive but then, so many people want to go there, it is impossible to accommodate everyone if the prices were lower.
Not going to happen. Southern Florida is a lot like Southern California. Everyone wants to live there because of the warm weather and no snow, etc. And that means that just about any acreage is privately owned and has houses, etc., placed on it.
There is just no space left for boondockers to use. Given the attitudes of some RVers, the ability to park there for a night may have been ruined long ago and inspired the current parking laws.
The narrow roadways seem to be everywhere in the Keys, not just Key West. So you have t be careful where you go when you are driving your RV or towing your trailer. The roads are not RV friendly.
It would be best if you have a reservation to drop off your trailer, park your RV and use a car or SUV to navigate those smaller roads. To give you an idea of how busy the area is, there are campgrounds, some with 200 RV spaces, booked up for at least a year in advance.
Going where everyone wants to go is not always the best idea anyone ever had.
The only place you can camp in the Florida Keys is at approved campgrounds or any state parks in the area. There is no boondocking allowed anywhere in the Keys and even tent camping at the beach is restricted to certain campgrounds.
The cost of tent camping ranges from $12 to over $60 depending on the campground and even then, there are few sandy beaches in the area for anyone to camp on.
If you want to boondock or find a cheaper campground, you have to find those spots outside of the Key and then drive in with your smaller vehicle. There are areas outside of the Keys that allow overnight parking but double check to make sure as laws may change without notice.
When you call those campgrounds in the Keys, do not be surprised if they say they are booked up and won’t have an opening for 12 months. There may be last minute cancellations but your timing has to be impeccable to catch those when they happen.
You can blame the urban sprawl or the greed of developers for this problem as Miami has taken up a lot of the free land to house its citizens.
No, you can’t. The whole area is the same. That is because of the popularity of the region. Since everyone wants to go there, the region would be a mess with all the RVs, trailers, and tents blocking traffic, etc, if they allowed overnight parking.
With at least a year’s wait to get a campground, it might be better to find another location to go to this winter and make the effort to book well in advance for the few RV parking spots in the area.
Paying the campground’s fees is better than paying a traffic ticket or a parking ticket. The fines may be cheaper than paying a campground fee, up to $90, but the loss of reputation costs a lot more.
To make your reservation, go to the Reserve America website. This is the same site used by the Florida State Park system as well as more than enough private campgrounds. The site should not crash as it is designed to handle thousands of users every day.
However, you need to be quick as there are snowbirds waiting for the day reservations open. You can book up to a 14-day stay and reservations open 11 months in advance.
If you do not have firm plans yet, you can go to the Wandering Lands website. This company asks you when you want to camp and then they will check the parks to find cancellations. You get an email when a spot opens up.
If you make a donation, they will enhance their search for you, then text you when an opening becomes available. One word of warning, other Wandering Land users may beat you to the opening so you have to be quick.
This will be difficult as the area is clamping down on free camping. According to our research, you have to be very sneaky to camp for free in the Keys. One website stated that if you drive a vehicle or a Class B RV you may be able to camp in parking lots open for 24 hours and is free to park.
One example would be the Casa Marina Key West and our source did not post a website as they were afraid the owners would see their comments and change their practices. If it is still allowed there, just do not be obvious about camping.
Leo’s Campground’ on Stock Island is supposed to be another area you can camp for free but do not take our word for it. Things can change fairly quickly. Ramrod Swimming Hole used to have free camping but our source said that has been discontinued.
You may find different dispersed camping sites but you may have to drive for hours before you find one. It is better to find a place to camp outside of the Keys region and drive into it than to take the chance that you won’t be caught.
This may be difficult as the fines for property owners for allowing camping in the wrong areas are very steep. One 24-hour parking lot, Simonton St & Green / Dey St in Key West allowed some people to camp for $5 a night for 3 nights.
But if you stay there you are putting the owner at risk of getting a fine. Or you can try Dry Tortugas National Park. It costs about $15 per night and it is very remote with lots of adventure. The drawback will be the cost of the ferry to get to it.
Here is a short list of campgrounds in the keys. Whether they are cheap or not depends on your viewpoint. You are not really going to find cheap in the Keys:
1. Sugarloaf Key Resort KOA Kampground – 251 County Road 939, Summerland Key, Phone: 800-562-7731
2. Boyds Campground located at 6401 Maloney Ave, Stock Island, 305-294-1465
3. Bahia Honda State Park 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, 305-872-2353
4. Leo's Campground- 5264 Suncrest Rd, Key West, 305-296-5260
5. Curry Hammock State Park
6. Kings Kamp
7. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
There are more locations but they may not be cheap.
Even if it has been your life’s dream to spend time in the Keys, it may not be possible to do it for free. It is a very beautiful part of Florida and everyone wants to go there.
Don’t just pack up and go as you will be disappointed. Use the reservation system and book well in advance or use the Wandering Lands website to get a hold of cancellations.
Those are much better options than wasting your time and money by just driving to see what you can find.