America's Everglades  
The largest subtropical wilderness in the United States


City


Free


Animals

Preserves
Parks


History


RVing


Frontier


Crackers


Swamp


Eco
Kayaking


Alligator
Farm


Airboat
Tours


The winter dry season

The winter dry season ( December to April) is the best time for wildlife viewing in the park.

Weather conditions are generally pleasant during the winter and standing water levels are low, causing wildlife to congregate at central water locations.

While most of the park is remote and inaccessible, there are plenty of spots within a few minutes of Miami and Naples, where you can get a feel for the “River of Grass” 


Your first decision in visiting the Everglades is which entrance to use; there are three and they are hours apart from each other.

They are accessed through different areas of south Florida.


If you want the opportunity to observe the heart of the everglades you can either enter through (1) Shark Valley in Miami or the (2) Main Entrance of the Park in Homestead.

However, if you are looking to explore the Gulf Coast, then you should plan to take a boat trip at the (3) Gulf Coast in Everglades City.


View the map of the Everglades to get a better idea of different regions of the Everglades.


North Entrances

Shark Valley (Miami)

Named because its water flows southwest toward Shark River, Shark Valley is the heartland of the Everglades.

At Shark Valley you can walk, bike, or ride a tram along a 15-mile loop road and see some of the park’s best wildlife concentrations.

The Shark Valley observation tower offers a 360 degree view of the Everglades. The viewing deck overlooks a life-filled water hole, providing a bird’s eye view of alligators, turtles, fish, and birds.



Chekika *Currently Closed

This recreation area offers picnic tables and grills beside a pond and a trail through a hardwood hammock.

Gulf Coast (Everglades City)

From the Gulf Coast Visitor Center the town of Everglades City, take a boat -- your own or a scheduled sightseeing boat tour -- to explore the vast mangrove estuary of the Ten Thousand Islands

South Entrances

Royal Palm (Homestead)

Royal Palm is the departure point for two interpretive walks: the Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail.

Expect to see plenty of wildlife along the Anhinga Trail, a world famous boardwalk trail bordering Taylor Slough.

The Gumbo Limbo Trail is a paved path through a hardwood hammock. On your ride to Flamingo there are many trails to explore in between.

Along the Main Road

Along the main Everglades road, there are a series of stops with short walks that show the Everglades’ diverse ecosystems.

  • Pineland TrailThis is a half-mile trail around a Florida pine forest.
  • Pahayokee OverlookThis boardwalk trail has a raised observation platform that provides sweeping vistas of the “River of Grass.”
  • Mahagony Hammock TrailThis self-guiding boardwalk trail meanders through a dense, jungle-like hammock. Lush vegetation includes gumbo-limbo trees, air plants, and the largest living mahogany tree in the United States.



Flamingo

At the end of the park road, Flamingo is the gateway to Florida Bay. The bay and its adjoining maze of mangrove waterways provide homes for thousands of birds and a wealth of fish, crabs, shrimp, and other marine life.

Facilities, products, and services at Flamingo include a restaurant, campground, groceries, fuel, a marina, hiking and canoe trails, and scenic boat tours.


Make on the park's four visitor centers your first stop here.

The best way to see the park is to take time to walk the boardwalks and trails along the main park road to join in ranger-led events.

Naturalists give talks and lead hikes, canoe trips, tram tours, and campfire programs.

  • At Everglades City the Gulf Coast Visitor Center is the park's western saltwater getaway. Narrated boat tours explore pristine Ten Thousand Islands and coastal mangrove.
  • At Shark Valley the wildlife-viewing tram tour through sawgrass prairie includes a stop at a 65-foot tower for spectacular views.

At Everglades City the Gulf Coast Visitor Center is the park's western saltwater getaway.

Narrated boat tours explore pristine Ten Thousand Islands and coastal mangrove.


At Shark Valley the wildlife-viewing tram tour through sawgrass prairie includes a stop at a 65-foot tower for spectacular views.


View the map of the Everglades to get a better idea of different regions of the Everglades.

Gulf Coast (Everglades City)From the Gulf Coast Visitor Center the town of Everglades City, take a boat -- your own or a scheduled sightseeing boat tour -- to explore the vast mangrove estuary of the Ten Thousand IslandsSouth Entrances

Chekika *Currently Closed This recreation area offers picnic tables and grills beside a pond and a trail through a hardwood hammock.

Royal Palm (Homestead)Royal Palm is the departure point for two interpretive walks: the Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail. Expect to see plenty of wildlife along the Anhinga Trail, a world famous boardwalk trail bordering Taylor Slough. The Gumbo Limbo Trail is a paved path through a hardwood hammock.

On your ride to Flamingo there are many trails to explore in between.Along the Main Road Along the main Everglades road, there are a series of stops with short walks that show the Everglades’ diverse ecosystems.

  • Pineland TrailThis is a half-mile trail around a Florida pine forest.
  • Pahayokee OverlookThis boardwalk trail has a raised observation platform that provides sweeping vistas of the “River of Grass.”
  • Mahagony Hammock TrailThis self-guiding boardwalk trail meanders through a dense, jungle-like hammock. Lush vegetation includes gumbo-limbo trees, air plants, and the largest living mahogany tree in the United States.
  • FlamingoAt the end of the park road, Flamingo is the gateway to Florida Bay. The bay and its adjoining maze of mangrove waterways provide homes for thousands of birds and a wealth of fish, crabs, shrimp, and other marine life.

Facilities, products, and services at Flamingo include a restaurant, campground, groceries, fuel, a marina, hiking and canoe trails, and scenic boat tours.


Observing wild animals in their natural environment

Observing wild animals in their natural environment is a privilege. In return for that privilege, it is your responsibility to keep wildlife wild by being respectful of wildlife and wildlife habitat.

  • Give wildlife plenty of space. Binoculars and spotting scopes allow you to view wildlife without getting too close. Always give wildlife an avenue for retreat, and never chase any animal.
  • Learn to recognize signs of alarm. These are sometimes subtle, and they vary among species, but may include increased movements such as agitated flapping or pacing, heightened muscle tension, staring, or frequent vocalizations. If you sense that an animal is disturbed by your presence, back off. If it still does not resume its normal behaviors, please retreat and leave the area.
  • Be respectful of rookeries, nesting grounds, and denning areas. Well-meaning but intrusive visitors may cause parents to flee, leaving young vulnerable to the elements or to predators. Stay on designated trails whenever possible.
  • Leave “orphaned” or sick animals alone. Young animals that appear alone typically have parents waiting nearby.
  • Pets are not allowed on most trails in the park. Pets are allowed on a 6-foot (2-meter) leash in parking lots and campgrounds, but not on trails or in wilderness areas. Please familiarize yourself with and follow the Everglades National Park Pet Policies.
  • Do not feed wildlife. For their safety as well as yours, animals should eat only their natural foods. It is dangerous and illegal to feed or harass wildlife.
  • Tread lightly. If you choose to venture into the wilderness, remember that you are a guest in the homes of the animals you seek. Avoid disturbing sensitive habitats such as fragile wetlands.
  • Share the experience. Respect other park visitors. Be aware of other wildlife watchers and avoid unnecessarily marring their wildlife viewing opportunities and enjoyment.

If You go:

Getting there:  It's a two-hour or less drive from Miami or  Fort Myers to the main tourist areas of Everglades National Park -- Shark Valley on the north, Everglades City on the west, or Flamingo on the south -- as well as to Big Cypress National Preserve.

Lodging/park:With the closure of Flamingo Lodge, there is no overnight option in Everglades National park proper other than camping. There are numerous national chain hotels in the cities around the park. Flamingo is the park's main campground. For camping reservations, call 800-365-2267, or log on to recreation.gov.

Lodging/Miami:Miami Beach, with its white sand Atlantic beaches, world-class dining and nightlife, is convenient for day trips to the Everglades. 

For its boutique hotels, visit Miami boutique hotels.com, or call the visitor bureau, 888-766-4264. Internet hotel agencies(www.placestostay.com, www.hotels.com) have deals on Miami lodging. 

Lodging/Naples:  with its white sand Gulf beaches, world-class dining and nightlife, is convenient for day trips to the Everglades. 

For its boutique hotels, visit Naples-Marco-island-Florida.com, or call the visitor bureau, 888-766-4264. Internet hotel agencies(www.placestostay.com, www.hotels.com) have deals on Florida lodging. 


Parks info:Vehicle admission to the Everglades is $10 for Flamingo (for one week at all park facilities), $8 for Shark Valley, or free at Everglades City. 


General Camping Information

There are three campgrounds inside the park, Chekika, Flamingo and Long Pine Key.

Chekika is presently open for day-use only. Camping is not available, pending repairs of damage from Hurricane Irene in October 1999. Located six miles (10 km) west of Krome Ave (State Road 997) on SW 168 Street. (For More Information on this campground please call 305-242-7700)

All campgrounds are open year round. Reservations can be made for campsites at Flamingo and Long Pine Key Campgrounds at 1-800-365-2267.

Camping from May through October will be by self-registration at all campgrounds. 

Fees are not charged from June to August. If you have a Golden Age Pass )U.S. citizen 62 or older) or 

Golden Access Pass(permanently disabled), camping is half price. This does not apply toward group sites.

Campground Information


Campground       Open    Sites    Water     Fire Grates         Showers        

Flamingo            All Year     234       Yes             Yes       

           Yes                                                      
Long Pine Key    All Year     108       Yes            Yes      

             Yes       

Boat and bus tours range from $15 to $35. Entry to Big Cypress National Preserve is free. For information on the Everglades,www.nps.gov/ever or 305-242-7700; for Big Cypress, www.nps.gov.bicy or239-695-4111.

End Of The Road

The only overnight lodge within Everglades National Park was at Flamingo Lodge, a compound of buildings for visitors and employees at the end of the park's scenic 46-mile road from Florida City.

Flamingo shares a magnificent natural setting unique within the national park system. Flamingo Lodge is a short walk from shallow Florida Bay, a steel gray body of water when clouds obscure the sky. 


The Everglades' lodge is built in the style of a steel-reinforced concrete bunker to withstand occasional hurricanes. Its restaurant and visitor center perch on two-story stilts to minimize damage from wind-driven floods.

The Everglades' anhinga is similar to the Pacific cormorant.
The tide was too low for the bay cruise to operate, so the only tour boat option was inland through a mangrove-lined canal to Whitewater Bay. 

The tour guide noted that the hilly topography around the bay, Florida's second largest freshwater lake, was not the land but rather the varying height of trees. In dry areas called hammocks, royal palm and gumbo-limbo trees take root and grow much taller than the mangroves.

When the tour boat returns to the marina, a dark shape swims between the moored pleasure boats. It's an American crocodile, a 15-foot giant.South Florida is the only place in the world where crocodiles live in proximity to alligators. Unlike alligators, which have again become numerous, the more aggressive crocodiles number about 400 in the United States.


Camping and Recreation

The Campground at Flamingo

Camping sites are available year-round in Everglades National Park.Front country camping, with some services, is available at Long Pine Key, close to the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, where 108 sites are accessible by car.

Near Flamingo 2 3 4 campsites with some services are also available.Recreational vehicle camping is available at these sites, although not with all necessary services. 

Back country permits are required for campsites along the Wilderness Waterway, Gulf Coast sites, and sites in the various keys. Several back country sites are chickens; others are beach and ground sites.[89]

Low-powered motorboats are allowed into the park, although the majority of salt water areas are no-wake zones to protect manatees from harm.

Jet skis, airboats, and other motorized personal watercraft are prohibited. However, many trails allow kayaks and canoes. 

A state license is required for fishing, and although fresh water licenses are not sold in the park, a salt water license may be available.

Swimming is not recommended within the park boundaries, since water moccasins,snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina), alligators and crocodiles thrive in fresh water; and sharks, barracuda, and sharp dangerous coral are plentiful in salt water. Visibility is low in both kinds.           


Everglades Frontier

Click any of the Stories below
 And Travel to Florida's Magnificent Everglades.

Florida's Magnificent Everglades - A small group of visitors clusters at the edge of a pond behind the Shark Valley Visitor Center in Everglades National Park. Two minutes of visiting the Everglades and the first gator had already been spotted. Try spotting a bear that fast in Yellowstone.

"CRACKER" The term stems from the early days when Florida cowboy cow cavalrymen, in lieu of the rope used by Texas cowboys, welded a bullwhip, 10 - 12 feet long made of braided leather, and when snapped over a cow's head, made a sharp"crack".
Thus was born the term "cracker"

Romancing the Swamp Local eco-tour provider wades into the Florida wild. Scared of the swamp? Intrigued by the swamp? Then explore the swamp. It will forever change you.

"Square Grouper" - Historic Everglades City 

The Hidden History of Everglades City as Florida's last frontier

Everglades City Florida Was The Square Grouper Capital at one time in the recent past.

In the 1970's and 1980's, Everglades City and Chokoloskee became notorious for their trade in "square grouper", a euphemism for bales of marijuana.

Everglades Stories - We’re trying to find ways to restore wetlands and to do it in a way that will really benefit the water quality when it finally does leave the land and also to store the water there and not sort of pipeline it straight into Lake Okeechobee and pipeline it into the everglades.

The Square Grouper - Through the Everglades to a shore about 20 miles to the west of Flamingo, called Cape Sable.and was said to have a pink beach literally made from shells, and also was habitat to the rare and elusive Cape Sable Sparrow, which we all wanted to see.

The Calusa Shell IndiansThe Calusa (kah LOOS ah) lived on the sandy shores of the southwest coast of Florida. These Indians controlled most of south Florida.

The population of this tribe may have reached as many as 50,000 people.

The Calusa men were tall and well built with long hair. Calusa means "fierce people," and they were described as a fierce, war-like people.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida The Seminole people are the descendents of the Creek people. The diversity of the Tribe is reflected in the fact that its members spoke seven languages- Muscogee, Hitchiti, Koasati, Alabama,