One of Florida’s remote tiny towns, Ochopee is home to the smallest post office and the Skunk Ape Center.
Located on US Route 41, Ochopee is a small unincorporated town in rural Collier County near the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve. It’s situated just east of state road 29 that leads south to Everglades City.
That Ochopee was “developed” is an overstatement. The area began to be settled by white settlers in the 1920s. Seminole and Miccosukee Indians had been pushed into the area a century earlier. Like much of the surrounding area it began with a tomato farm owned by a James Gaunt.
Today, much of the Ochopee area is part of US public lands connected with the Everglades. There’s about 120 people living in the area.
An earlier post office was located in the Gaunt Company Store. The current post office began life as a storage shed, but in 1953 when the existing post office was destroyed by fire it was moved to the shed. And there’s it’s remained.
It’s officially known as the smallest post office in the US and serves the zip code 34141. It will postmark postcards and letters and mail them for you, but it doesn’t sell any memorabilia.
The Skunk Ape Research Center is a storefront in Ochopee that connects with the legend of the ape-man that purportedly hangs out in the swamp. The headquarters is the best place to go to learn about the Skunk Ape (named for its stinky smell, not because it looks like a skunk) and any recent sightings (or smellings?), plus you can buy some fun stuff.
Ochopee is just one of those places that’s so very much Florida. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be a destination. Stop by if you’re traveling between Naples and Miami or if you’re heading south to Everglades City and the Everglades National Park entrance nearby.