The 9 Most Popular State Parks in the Florida Keys

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For visitors heading to the Florida Keys, one great way to appreciate the beauty of its flora and fauna is through a visit to one of its many state parks. Filled with a diverse eco-system, sub-tropical hammocks, seaside mangroves, and many historical landmarks, these parks help share the unique story of Florida Keys. Plus many parks also provide a great place to camp, too.

So whether the plan is to set up camp and spend the night or just be a day-tripper, make sure to put a one or more of the nine most popular Florida Keys state parks listed below on your next trip to the Keys.

1. Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
(Photo via the Florida State Parks website)

The northernmost Florida Keys State Park showcases one of the biggest West Indian tropical hardwood hammocks in America. The 2,805 acre park contains six miles of trails, including many that are paved and accessible by wheelchair or bicycle.

Inside, visitors will find access to 84 protected species of flora and fauna including the Key Largo woodrat, American crocodile, wild cotton, mahogany mistletoe, and more. It serves as the perfect place to stretch your legs when first entering the Keys.

Location: mm 106 (on the county road 905 – Key Largo)

Admission: $2.50 per person to be dropped in the box upon entry; exact change requested

Camping: No

2. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

ohn Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
(Photo via the Florida State Parks website)

No doubt one of the must-visits in Key Largo — if not all the Florida Keys — is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Famous for being established as the first underwater state park, it provides immense access to snorkeling and SCUBA diving on living coral reefs inside 70+ nautical miles of protected waters.

While most visitors remain attracted to the underwater activities, park-goers can also enjoy hikes on the short trails through the hammocks, take time to canoe or kayak in the mangroves, and rest and relax on its beach. Additionally, campsite are available for both RVs and tents and there is a public boat launch.

Location: mm 102.5

Admission: $8.50 per vehicle, up to 8 people; pedestrians and bicyclists are $2.50 per person

Camping: Both RV and Tent sites available for $36 per night, plus fees. Includes water and electricity.

3. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
(Photo via the Florida State Parks website)

For those who appreciate history, a visit to Windley Key remains a must when in Islamorada. Originally used as the quarry for the stone needed to construct the Florida Keys Overseas Railroad in the early 1900s, operations continued until the 1960s — producing decorative “Keystone” to be used in elaborate landscaping and design.

Today, visitors can appreciate not just the recent history, but also view ancient fossil formations found in the coral rock with a walk through the 8 foot high quarry walls. The onsite visitor’s center offers deeper views into the history of Flagler’s Railroad, while self-guided trails can provide time to experience the local environment, birding, and more.

Location: mm 84.9

Admission: $2.50 per person (open Thursday through Monday)

Camping: No

4. Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park

Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
(Photo via the Florida State Parks website)

In 1919, a wealthy Miami chemist purchased a tiny island in the Keys. Today, his former home there serves as a visitor’s center for Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park. The island remains largely untouched from those early days, and allows visitors to step back in time to view the Keys as they once were. The fauna on the island includes the Lignumvitae Tree, which the park and island is named after.

Note: this park is only accessible by boat or kayak. Many visitors use local vendors to rent kayaks or take guided tours. Information can be found here.

Location: mm 77.2

Admission: $2.50 per person; $2.00 with a guided tour (open Thursday – Monday)

Camping: No

5. Indian Key Historic State Park

Indian Key Historic State Park
(Photo via the Florida State Parks website)

Opposite Lignumvitae Key, on the Atlantic side of the islands off highway US-1 through Islamorada, visitors can find Indian Key. This island holds a seafaring past with historic roots in the lucrative salvaging business and Indian wars, and was once the second-largest community in the Florida Keys after Key West.

Also only accessible by boat or kayak, Indian key is a shorter trip and just ½ mile offshore. Visitors are welcome seven days a week and can stroll across the island at their own pace on a self-guided tour.

Location: mm 78.5

Admission: $2.50 per person

Camping: No

6. Long Key State Park

Long Key State Park florida
(Photo via the Florida State Parks website)

Originally the site of railroad magnate Henry Flagler’s popular luxury destination in the early 20th century, Long Key Fishing Camp, Long Key State Park now offers the luxury of oceanfront views from its campsites.

Visitors can stay and fish from where many of the world’s best-known saltwater anglers — such as author Zane Grey and some U.S. presidents — spent their time in the Florida Keys. But just as the 1935 hurricane damaged the luxury fishing camp, the recent hurricane Irma (2017) damaged this park and its offerings remain limited. Primitive camping exists here, and day visitors can experience the park’s two hiking trails and also kayak along the coastline (kayaks can be rented onsite).

Location: mm 67.4

Admission: $4.50 per person; 2+ people is $5.00 plus 50¢ per person; pedestrians and bicyclists are $2.50 per person

Camping: Primitive walk-to-camp sites only — $22.50 per night plus fees.

7. Curry Hammock State Park

Curry Hammock State Park
(Photo via the Florida State Parks website)

Just re-opened March 3rd, Curry Hammock State Park remains the place to go for Kite Surfing in the Florida Keys. Whether you plan to watch or actually venture out into the Atlantic Ocean and soar, visitors come from all over to test the winds and waters of this location on Grassy Key.

Known as the largest uninhabited stretch of land between Key Largo and Big Pine Key, the park features miles of pristine coastline and mangroves that serve as a perfect place to paddle a kayak along a protected coastline.

Location: mm 56.2

Admission: $4.50 per person; 2+ people is $5.00 plus 50¢ per person; pedestrians and bicyclists are $2.50 per person

Camping: Both RV and Tent sites available at $36 per night, plus fees; includes water and electricity.

8. Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park
(Photo via the Florida State Parks website)

With an award-winning beach — one of the only natural beaches in the Florida Keys — Bahia Honda State Park continues to be a popular day trip for beach-goers. The soft sand coupled with calm, clear waters allow for excellent beachside snorkeling on either the bay side or the ocean side.

Additionally, visitors here should hike up to the old, iconic Bahia Honda Rail Bridge, part of the Florida Overseas Railroad, to take in the stellar views. This bridge provides panoramic views of the beautiful area in the daytime, and a fantastic place to stargaze in the evenings.

Plenty of shorebirds entice birdwatchers to visit the park, too. Both snorkeling trips and kayaks are available for a fee, and there is a boat launch.

Location: mm 37.2

Admission: $8.50 per vehicle, up to 8 people; pedestrians and bicyclists are $2.50 per person

Camping: Both RV and Tent sites are available at $36 per night, plus fees; includes water and electricity. Additionally, cabins are available starting at $120 per night plus fees depending on season.

Boat Ramp Usage: $10

9. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
(Photo via the Florida State Parks website)

In Key West, the beach can be found at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. Local beach-goers and vacationers come here to enjoy the sunshine, snorkeling, and swimming in the warm waters adjacent to the historic fort.

The fort itself has daily tours, and was named after President Zachary Taylor. Constructed in the mid-1800s to defend America’s southeastern coastline, Fort Zachary played important roles in both the Civil and Spanish-American Wars. Today, visitors can appreciate its historic significance and view its large cache of civil war armaments.

This southernmost park in the continental United States remains important today, with an active onsite coral restoration effort organized through Mote Marine Laboratory. The conservation effort aims to plant over 5,000 corals beyond the breakwater.

Location: mm 0 (Key West)

Admission: $6.50 per vehicle, up to 8 people; pedestrians and bicyclists are $2.50

Camping: No

Conclusion

The Florida Keys State Parks offer something different for everyone. From perfect places to paddle through the mangroves and excursions out to island parks to some of the world’s best snorkeling and the opportunity to visit to historic landmarks, take hiking trails, or just spend nights in nature, these nine state parks have something for every adventurer and camper alike.

Now, it’s time to decide which adventure at which park makes your list. Which of the most popular Florida State Parks in the Florida Keys are you planning to visit on your next trip?

Once you decide and begin to plan a visit, it’s important to note that access and facilities can still be limited at times because of restrictions. Even as parks continue to increase services over time, it is still best to check the Florida State Parks website to ensure availability before visiting. Good luck planning and have a great time inside the Florida Keys state parks. Maybe I’ll see you there!

READ MORE: Which Florida Key Should I Visit?

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the 9 most popular state parks in the florida keys