That Place You Can’t Camp — But Resting Is Ok
Location : Big Pine Key, FL
Not far beyond the Big Pine Motel, is the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.
The center sits on a large gravel parking lot with an equally large grassy area behind the building. After arriving and introducing myself, I asked Sandy if thru hikers may camp in the grassy area behind the building.
Sandy responded, “I can’t give permission for thru hikers to camp — this isn’t our land or building, we rent it. But visitors are welcome to rest for as long as they like — even after hours.”.
Other amenities offered at the center include public bathrooms — which are open during the visitor center operating hours, and overnight parking — for visitors continuing further southward into the keys. I didn’t ask for details about overnight parking. If this sounds like something you want you would want to do, please call for details or inquire inside.
And finally, Sandy mentioned the area is patrolled by the county sheriff. Thru hikers who are resting at the visitor center after hours — especially female through hikers, may find a warm reception from the county sheriff … if the encounter is respectful.
If it were me, I’d skip the tent and rest on my Tyvek tarp and foam mattress, which seems to be within the parameters of acceptability.
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