Everglades Exploration Network

ENP has a new online reservation system this year.  Personally, I find it not a good idea given trip routes can’t be realistically planned so far in advance safely without current weather information. If you do plan your trip and book a site, you will lose all your money if you were to cancel.  This then does not give most people a reason to cancel and keeps those sites showing as booked. You can’t change your start date without first cancelling and losing your money and then paying to start a new one.  All in all, not a good idea to book ahead IMHO unless the stars and the moons align in your favor or you don’t mind losing your full reservation cost.

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A few summers ago, we did a canoe trip to the Adirondacks where it seemed to be full when we reserved online. When we arrived, it was about 1/3 empty because people had reserved sites three months in advance, plans changed, and they never told the campground. That puts other campers at a disadvantage. Three months in advance for ENP sites is crazy. Last year, we tried to leave the first day from EC but the wind kept us from heading out. The year before, while we were driving down, we realized we had to change our plans because of the weather, so making reservations three months in advance would not have worked. Finally, we've made good friends while waiting in line at the Ranger Station to make our reservations. (We aren't there this year -- stupid covid -- but plan to be back next year!) - Rob and Allison

Agreed. This seems like one of those things set up by someone who has never camped in the backcountry but likes to know that they can now fit it into their busy schedules. Pfffft!

Hey all... it's been awhile.

I'm looking to get back into summer paddling ENP. Anyone know what the summer campsite rules are now that ENP is on Recreation.gov? 

Thanks

Chris

I called and double checked with the the park service.  Since switching over to the new reservation system, you will need to pay for reservations and pick up your permit in person from the ranger station.

- you can make reservations online at https://www.recreation.gov/permits/4675314 

- Pick whatever camp spot is left by walk up.

The days of free summer camping are over.

What am I doing wrong?  I tried to make my reservations 90 days before starting my trip. They let me register for four days but no more. It shut me off when I tried to go back to a chickee, Sweetwater, I had registered for 3 days earlier. After waiting two days for  Sept. 24th, (to continue our trip on Dec. 24th) it let me register for Sweet, Plate, but not Sweet again. Then when I tried to confirm the two days  it wouldn't let me. I want to use Sweet three nonconsecutive (sp?) times on an 8 day trip because we use an open canoe and I don't dare plan ocean sites without knowing the weather. Our plan is to go to Sweet, pop out to the ocean for two days (with hopefully enough keys to hide behind) and go back to Sweet and then return to Sweet 2 days later. I would only use Sweet at most at the begining and the end if we still registered the old way. Is the system set up so that you can't return to a site within 14 days? 

  And seriously? How many canoers know what type of car will be road worthy 3 months in advance?

  Rob

  Well I've found two answers. It should have been clear to me, as it was obvious on the computer reservation site, but it wasn't to me, that once you've booked a chickee, which can only be booked for one night, you can't return to it later in the same trip. I don't know if you stay at a ground or ocean site for less than the allowed time if you can return to that site later in yor trip. 

  Since the rules are you can book 3 months in advance or 90 days in advance, not the same by a day or two, I tried again today. I booked for two more days including for the same chickee and got the reservation. At first I thought I hadn't because my checkout info was very light on the screen and when I clicked on it to confirm I got my wrist slapped with the red circle/slash symbol. I finally realized I didn't need to enter my info because entering my password earlier took care of it. I thought it was telling I had tried to game the system by making two reservations

   I still wasn't sure if I had cheated so I called the Gulf Coast Visitor Center and by luck talked to the person who had worked with reservations.gov setting up the system. Now it is set up so you can only use a chickee one night a trip. And she pointed out my second reservation couldn't be picked up till I was already on my trip. I haven't tried it yet but she says I can cancel my second reservation and add to my first reservation. Wish me luck.

   The system is far from perfect but I don't know how you could make it any better. To make a trip plan 3 months in advance without knowing the weather limits ones options but if you have ever seen EC after Christmas it is a nightmare. I've seen canoers trying to make a site way too far away their first night because everything closer is full. They had been lost and still 4 miles from their site with 1/2 an hour till sunset. When it's busy most people want to know if theres a site they can reach their first day. 

Rob

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