Everglades National Park, A Subtropical Natural Wonderland
Without contest, the Everglades National Park is one of the wildest and most nature-wondrous place on Earth. A World Heritage Site, and an International Biosphere Reserve, the Everglades National Park is also the largest subtropical wilderness area in the United States.
Easily accessible from Miami or the Florida Keys, the Everglades National Park harbours numerous ecosystems, from wet prairies to hardwood hammocks, and from freshwater swamps to mangroves, and offers a first-class look on subtropical nature at its best.
The Everglades National Park is also home to countless rare and fascinating marine and freshwater species such as alligators, crocodiles, marine species like manatees, dolphins or sea turtles, as well as many birds like herons, egrets, flamingos, anhingas and many others.
A fantastic place for observing wildlife, the Everglades National Park is also a boundless land of adventure where you can hike, boat, canoe, kayak, paddle or simply drive trhough in search of fantastic views, incredible sensations, and unforgettable memories.
Everglades National Park Map
Insider Travel Tips
- Everglades National Park covers 1.5 million acres across 3 counties (Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Collier).
- There are 3 entrances to get to the park by car: Homestead, (Royal Palm Area, Flamingo Area), Shark Valley (Miami), and Gulf Coast (Everglades City). You can find complete driving directions to the park here.
- Basic park entrance fee is $20 per car for seven days (subject to change, more info here).
- You can also enter the park by waterway, either by boat, kayak or paddle, for instance to explore the famous Everglades Wilderness Waterway. Make sure to plan accordingly, you can find more info on Everglades waterways here.
- Everglades National Park is mostly known for its amazingly vibrant wildfile, which is why you should definitely read all safety recommendations from National Park Service before heading for this adventurous trip.
- Everglades National Park alternates between a dry tropical savanna climate (December - May) and wet tropical monsoon climate (June - November).
- Water levels changing dramatically throughout the year, the best time to visit the Everglades really depends on what you looking for. Weather is perfect for casual visiting in the winter, but photographs might prefer the spring, while hardcore nature lovers and wildlife sightseers may prefer the summer, but in any case you're sure to have a great time no matter when you choose to visit.
- You can camp at Everglades, whether at front campsites Long Pine Key Campground and Flamingo Campground, or in one of the many backcountry campsites on beaches, mangrove platforms, and other wilderness spots. In any event you need a permit for backcountry camping.
- You can find a complete and up-to-date official map of Everglades campsites here.
- Regardless of your schedule and trip style, you need to prepare a few essential items to bring along: sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat for sun protection. Water for dehydratation. Insect repellent to avoid bug bites. Light long sleeves clothes, sneakers for comfortable hiking, as well as flip-flops to relax. Water ponchos for rain.
- When wandering in the wilderness, be aware that nature can be hostile, and respect basic rules to protect the wildlife. Do not feed animals. Keep a safe distance (15 ft.) between you and alligators/crocodiles. Learn to identify and keep away from poison ivy and poisonwood. Be aware that vultures can damage vehicles, therefore avoid parking near vultures whenever you can.
Everglades Natural Wonders
- Nature and wildlife are by far the two foremost attractions in the Everglades. Crocodiles, manatees, dolphins, turtles, herons, and alligators abund everywhere. Make sure to visit the Everglades National Park Visitor Centers to know where and how to best spot your favorite animals.
- The best and most comfortable time to watch animals in the Everglades is during dry season (December - April). Besides great weather, you will be able to observe wildlife more easily thanks to lower water levels and more animals gathering around main water locations.
- The Anhinga Trail is a visitor favorite to see wild wild birds and alligators, but Shark Valley and Eco Pond are also great locations.
- Larger gatherings of birds and freshwater wildlife can be observed from a kayak or canoe at Snake Bight, Chokoloskee Bay and around Nine Mile Pond near Flamingo.
- The variety of plants and natural features found in the Everglades is simply unique on the planet. Ecosystems vary from hardwood hammock and pinelands, to mangrove, coastal lowlands, freshwater prairies and sloughs, as well as coastal estuaries and marine preserves.
Great Things to Do in the Everglades
- There are many ways to explore the Everglades. While driving is a quick and easy way to get to the Everglades, you absolutely need to get out of your car to enjoy the best of what the park has to offer.
- One of the most fun things you can do in the Everglades is to ride an airboat, the iconic flat-bottomed boat sporting a huge rear propeller that can take you anywhere around swamps and mangroves.
- To enojy the airboat ride of your life in the Everglades, just research and book online any of the many available tours (as required by the National Park System rules). Airboat tours run on different schedules and offer many activities such as swimming with manatees or get real close to wild crocs and gators.
- If you're more comfortable on a bicycle, the Snake Bight Trail (near Flamingo) is a must but you can also bike on great trails around Shark Valley, or following the Long Pine Key Nature Trail, and the LPK Bike Trail.
- You can also explore the Everglades on foot, either hiking one of the maintained trails (Rowdy Bend, Christian Point, Snake Bight, Bear Lake...), or even wading off-trail, knee-high in swamp waters (aka slough slogging) around the River of Grass following Rangers around on a guided tour.
- Another great experience is to rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard following teh famous 99-miles long Wilderness Waterway along short trails or all the way for an unforgettable 7-days wetland trip.
Top Places to See in the Everglades
- Even if you're not nearby, the Anhinga Trail (near Royal Palm Visitor Center) is definitely worth a detour and an all-time visitor's favorite. Taking you through sawgrass marshes filled with alligators, turtles, big birds and many other animals, the self-guided trail takes its name from a grey and white local water turkey.
- Almost as popular as Anhinga, Shark Valley, a remote yet well-maintained, elevated 15-mile loop trail (built for oil-drilling back in 1946), is a good bird-watching spot (sorry, no sharks!), even though less rich in wildlife than Anhinga. Shark Valley can be experienced in many ways, including from a 360° observation tower, and a two-hour tram tour.
- The legendary Loop Road is popular with motorists as a self-guided tour, the 26-mile scenic drive on dirt roads letting you see many alligators and birds - as well as local raccoons and mythical Florida panthers along the way, albeit sometimes with limited views.
- Hardly any Everglades visit would be complete without experiencing the Gulf Coast side of the park. Whether in canoe, on airboat or any other mean, navigating The Ten Thousand Islands will let you explore a lifesize labyrinth of mangroves and observe marine life from up close, so we definitely recommend doing it with a professional guided tour.
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