Long Key State Park, located at MM 67.5 on Long Key, is a favorite of campers and nature lovers. The 965 acres that became the park was acquired between 1961 and 1973, with the official opening and dedication October 1, 1969. Way before the park was established, the warm climate, clear waters and abundance of marine life attracted many people.
Camping at Long Key State Park
If you’re coming to Long Key State Park, plan to spend a few days camping at one of the park's 60 full-facility campsites overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Every campsite has a ground grill, picnic table, water, and electricity hook-up. There are three centrally located restrooms with hot showers, and a dump station. These beautiful sites are in high demand, so book well in advance.
There are picnic areas, also with a view of the ocean, so non-campers can stop and enjoy the park on their way through. Take advantage of the playground, where the kiddies can burn off some of their limitless energy.
Things to do at Long Key
A lot fun things to do at the park, of course, revolve around the water. There are designated areas where one can snorkel, swim, or fish. Fishing in the Keys is a popular year-round sport, and this area is known for its spectacular bonefishing. Keep in mind that saltwater fishing licenses are required in the state of Florida.
Canoeing and kayaking are also favorite things to do in Long Key State Park. If you’re looking for a leisurely paddle through shallower waters, take the Long Key Lakes Canoe Trail. It takes about an hour, and rentals and a self-guided tour brochure are available.
If nature trails are more your thing, the park has two trails to choose from. The Golden Orb Trail, named after a native spider, is a leisurely 40-minute walk through five natural plant communities to an observation tower that gives visitors a panoramic view of the island and its vast plant and animal life. Once a week, the park offers an extended guided tour of this trail; visitors can observe and take pictures of the many birds and plants along the trail as a guide points them out and describes them. The other trail, called the Layton Trail, takes a mere 15 minutes and goes along the bay side of the park.
Long Key is an island in the middle Florida Keys
, nestled between Fiesta Key and Conch Key (located approximately from mile markers 65.5 to 71). Early Spanish explorers called it "Cayo Vivora" or "Rattlesnake Key," because the shape of the island resembles a snake with its jaws open. The popular vacation spot of Islamorada is to the northeast, and the city of Marathon is to the southwest.
By 1912 the Florida East Coast Railroad completed its Key West Extension, and the Florida Keys were no longer considered a remote area. Long Key became an important depot when the railroad's founder, Henry Flagler, built a resort called the Long Key Fishing Camp. This resort attracted the best saltwater fishermen from around the world, but it was destroyed in the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, as were much of the Keys. Fortunately, the Keys were rebuilt, the tourist and fishermen can back, and all was well.
Long Key State Park is a great place to spend a couple of days or even a week while you’re visiting the Keys. Here you can relax and get back to nature, spending time with your family or friends, or maybe just a little time by yourself.
By Beverly Martinez-Collins – PlacesAroundFlorida.com