We extended our limits this month and headed all the way to the Florida Keys for a week. As our home base while in the Keys, we stayed at Long Key State Park. Long Key State Park is mostly a campground, there are two small day use areas, but most of the park which is located at mile marker 67.5 between Islamorada and Marathon seems to be sixty camp sites with water and electricity sandwiched between US1 and the Atlantic. The sites are right on the beach, giving you a great view of the water from the front window when you pull in to the sites.
Campground — The road on the way in from the ranger station is nice and smooth, until you get to the gate that gives you access to the campground. Then it appears that the road has not been surfaced in at least three decades. The campsites are all between the campground road and the water, with the first 10 or so sites being fairly shallow. The sites all have water and electricity, and there is a dump station opposite site 14. The sites are configured so that electric and water are between every other site (between sites 1 & 2 then 3 & 4) so regardless of whether you pull straight in to get the water view in your window, or if you back in, it will likely be necessary to have extra hose and an extension cord if you want to use the water and electricity. Sites in the teens and twenties also seemed to retain water for an extraordinarily long time following rain, with some of the sites appearing to have a small lake between them and the road that stayed for one or two days.
The Park — Yes you are on the beach, but… It is one of the filthiest beaches that we’ve ever seen. For the first four nights we were there, we’d walk down the beach from our campsite to the day area. After the first night, we started taking at least one (sometimes two) large plastic garbage bags with us. There was not a trip down the beach that we did not completely fill every bag we took with us. There were bottles, shoes, ropes, lightbulb and all kinds of trash on the beach. The Ranger said it is because of where the park is in relation to the currents and most everything gets washed up with the tide. Regardless of how it happens, it does take away from the experience. In the day use area there is a boardwalk that runs from the parking area to the water with some pavilions located near the water. Along the boardwalk there is an observation tower, but it is not high enough to see anything, just the tops of mangrove trees. Also off the boardwalk is a hiking trail. Beware though if it has rained, or if the tides are extra high, you may find that portions of the trail are underwater. More pictures of the park are here.
One of the most popular past times for all the campers was floating. The water is very shallow, you can walk out a couple of hundred yards and not have the water get any deeper than your knees. So most everyone blows up inner tubes or a raft, and then wades out in the afternoon an floats for a while. The bottom is sandy, so there aren’t a lot of fish, and when it’s hot it makes for a very refreshing time.
Stuff To Do We found other things to do in the Keys as well. A day trip from Long Key down to Key West let us visit the Southernmost Point, the Key West Lighthouse, the Mel Fisher Museum and Fort Zachary Taylor Sate Park. We put our bikes on the car and drove down and parked at Zachary Taylor State Park and toured the fort, then unloaded the bikes and went around Key West. That allowed us to avoid the hassle that is trying to park in Key West. Pictures of our Key West adventures are here for the fort, the lighthouse and the southernmost point. After biking around Key West, we returned to the fort and snorkeled around the rocks that are just off the beach at the park.
We had a great lazy week, it might have been too lazy. With this trip, we have now spent 110 nights in the motorhome since we got it in April of 2007, and 35 nights this year alone.