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Florida Parks & Campgrounds Recover From Irma

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December 29, 2017 by   Leave a Comment

Sugarloaf Key West KOA

Campgrounds in the Florida Keys are still working to open after the devastation of Hurricane Irma, according to a press release from the Florida Keys visitor’s website fla-keys.com.

Many Keys’ campgrounds have reopened for RVs. Of the Keys’ significant RV resorts, Fiesta Key in the Upper Keys has reopened though it is not operating with full services.

Sunshine Key in the lower Keys is targeting reopening in late winter 2018. Sugarloaf Kampgrounds of America (KOA)/Key West KOA is closed through October 2018.

Other Keys campgrounds, including Boyd’s Key West Campground, are open.

National Parks

Dry Tortugas National Park is open, with the Yankee Freedom III ferry service resuming operations, as well as Key West Seaplane Adventures air service. Portions of Everglades National Park are open.

Four national wildlife refuges also are open, including the National Key Deer Refuge, Great White Heron and Key West national wildlife refuges. Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo is accessible, as usual, only through organized volunteer activities and guided walks.

Florida State Parks

All 10 Keys’ state parks are open for day use as restoration efforts continue. In Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park in the United States, is open to beachgoers, overnight campers, hikers and snorkelers taking a glass-bottom boat.

Trips on a larger glass-bottom boat and dive excursions are expected to resume by Christmas. Food concessions are scheduled to reopen by late January. In the Lower Keys, Bahia Honda State Park’s Calusa Beach area, on the park’s northwest side, is open for day use.

Loggerhead and Sandspur beaches are closed for restoration. Overnight camping in the park and stays in its six cabins are scheduled to resume in January.

General Assessment

Key Largo and Key West were least impacted by Hurricane Irma, as were hotels and businesses on the bayside or gulfside in Islamorada and Marathon. On the Atlantic oceanside of Islamorada and Marathon, a number of hotels had significant storm surge impacts. Some properties’ recovery periods will likely continue through summer 2018.

The most severely impacted area of the Keys was the region from west of the Seven Mile Bridge to about Big Coppitt Key, which is about 10 miles east-northeast of Key West. Visitors are requested to avoid traveling through residential neighborhoods along the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, especially between Marathon and Key West, as this region will take the longest to recover.

In the meantime, the Keys have been open to visitors since Oct. 1. Most tourism infrastructure is largely restored.

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