Would like to spend at least a couple of week exploring the everglades and the key islands. The RV parks on the islands seem pretty pricey. Did I miss a spot ? What would be a good home base camp for these areas ?
Land is scarce in the Keys and demand is high, so land prices are sky high. So yes, RV parks are really pricey, especially in the winter season. There are, however, a couple FL state parks with better prices. Check the Florida parks site (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/parks/) and look at Pennekamp, Lignumvitae and Bahia Honda parks.
You could also stay on the mainland at Florida City - it's only about 20 miles down to Key Largo and 3 hours all the way to Key West. There are several parks tere at more reasonable prices. Florida City also gives reasonable access to the southern end of the Everglades.
I believe that Lignumvitae is a botanical park-not for overnight camping. The State Parks in the Keys are usually booked months in advance. I have had my reservations for over 8 months. The State Parks are about 1/3rd the price of the other campgrounds in the Keys.
We stay at Boyd's Campground, on Stock Island just outside of Key West. It's a great place but well over $100 per night. They told us last Feb. when we were there, that a lot of the other privately owned campgrounds in the middle and upper keys are being sold off to build condos . What's happening is places like Boyd's are being booked sooner and for longer stays, by people who stayed most of the winter in the others. We booked while we were there (2/06) for Feb. 2/07. They only had 2 spots left for the 2 weeks we wanted. I'm thinking this may be our last year as I'm sure prices will be going up with the new demand.
If you can find a spot, you're in luck. If you are thinking of boondocking, read previous posts here and elsewhere about that. Here in Key West, it's quite difficult to do because a few previous campers have left behind a mess or have had not been cooperative with the owners of the parking lots. A lot of people think Key West hates RVs....well that's not it, we just don't have room for ourselves, never mind more vehicles. There are a few spots where you could get away with it but they're risky. Hope it works out for you.