Florida Keys Wilderness

Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida.

The Florida Keys Wilderness now contains a total of 6,197 acres and is managed by the Fish & Wildlife Service's National Key Deer Refuge. All of the Wilderness is in the state of Florida. In 1975 the Florida Keys Wilderness became part of the now over 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System.

The wilderness area of the Florida Keys consists of many islands off shore of the main chain of Keys that are bisected by US 1. These islands are administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as part of National Key Deer Refuge and Key West and Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuges. They protect a seemingly endless expanse of sea, sky, and islands between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean south of Florida's southern mainland coast. Although beaches exist on some of the islands, tangles of mangroves make access to most islands difficult. The Wilderness area consists of all the Marquesas Keys; Mooney Harbor Key; all the Gull Keys; Boca Crande Key; Woman Key; Man Key; Little Mullet Key; Big Mullet Key; Cottrell Key; Archer Key; Mule Key; Barracouta Keys; Joe Ingram Key; Crawfish Key; Sand Key; Rock Key; Eastern Dry Rocks; all the keys west of Key West; Crane Key; Little Swash Keys; Upper Harbor Key; Big Spanish Key; Little Spanish Key; Crawl Key; Little Pine Key Mangrove; Water Key Mangroves; Water Key; Little Pine Key; Horseshoe Keys; West Bahia Honda Key; Mayo Key; Annette Key; Howe Key; Water Keys islands in Sections 14, 15, 23, and 26; Cutoe Key islands in Sections 19, 20, and 21; Johnson Keys islands in Sections 19, 29, 30, and 32; and parts of Raccoon Key.

Access to those islands (above mean high tide) are permitted only with a special use permit, however, you are welcome to use the surrounding waters for boating, fishing and other permitted recreational purposes. Some islands have special buffer zones, and some have regulations regarding use of motors, and speed zones.

Nearby Activities


The wilderness islands in National Key Deer Refuge overlaps Great White Heron NWR. These two areas lie north of the main Florida Keys in the Gulf of Mexico with Key West to the west and Marathon to the east, an area approximately 50 miles wide and five to 10 miles deep.

Key West NWR is a rectangle approximately 15 miles north and south and 25 miles east and west. The refuge begins just west (1 mile) of Key West, the western most town in the Florida Keys. The western boudnary is just west of the Marquesas Keys.

Access to either of the wilderness areas is by boat only. Public and private boat launches are available throughout the keys.

The National Key Deer Refuge visitor center is located ј-mile north of the traffic light on Key Deer Boulevard in the Big Pine Key Shopping Plaza at 28950 Watson Blvd., Big Pine Key, FL 33043 (305) 872-2239

Additional Information

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