Don’t Waste Your Time In Everglades National Park

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AI image of Alligators laying on a walking trail backing up people

The Sunshine State may be most known for its beautiful beaches and theme parks, but it’s also home to unique ecosystems and habitats. Three areas are protected national parks: Everglades, Biscayne, and Dry Tortugas.

Florida is also home to Big Cypress National Preserve, the Canaveral National Seashore, the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and numerous other national monuments and memorials.

Today, we want to share more about Everglades National Park, Florida’s first national park, so you can decide whether or not it’s worth a visit down south. Let’s dive in!

Where Is Everglades National Park?

Located in southwest Florida, Everglades National Park covers over 1.5 million acres.

Set aside as permanent wilderness, it was the first national park dedicated for its biological diversity.

It stretches from the western coast of Florida near Naples around the southern tip to Homestead.

When Did Everglades National Park Become A National Park?

In the early 1900s, settlers and developers started draining the Everglades to transform the region into farmland. However, Everglades National Park supporters sought Congress’s help to preserve this unique habitat.

It took 13 years for conservationists and the state government to come up with the funding, but the Everglades finally became a national park in 1947.

In the Lower 48, only Death Valley and Yellowstone are larger national parks than the Everglades.

What’s So Special About Everglades National Park?

Everglades National Park protects the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. This fragile ecosystem of wetlands and forests is a crucial breeding ground for tropical wading birds.

Everglades National Park is also home to the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere. The Florida panther, American crocodile, West Indian manatee, and other threatened or protected species live here. It is also the only place on earth where crocodiles and alligators live.

In addition to the “national park” designation, the Everglades is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance.

It’s one of only three places on Earth with all three designations.

While the main image is AI-generated, it isn’t too far off from what you can expect to see

December to April is the busiest time of the year at Everglades National Park. This is when the weather is most pleasant, with little to no hurricanes and comfortable temperatures.

We still encourage you to visit during these months because the summers are sweltering in southern Florida.

If you want to avoid crowds, consider visiting in November just before the snowbirds travel south for the winter.

1. Take the Shark Valley Tram Tour

The Shark Valley Tram Tour is among the best ways to see Everglades National Park. Park naturalists narrate the journey, providing information about the ecology and history of the park.

You’ll also have a chance to walk to the Shark Valley Observation Tower’s viewing platform, the tallest point in Everglades National Park.

The 2-hour tram tour provides ample opportunities for photos and unrivaled views of this magnificent park.

2. Go Birdwatching

The Everglades are protected because of the ecosystem. Wading birds rely on the Everglades for life.

In fact, over 300 bird species call this wetland home. Popular birdwatching spots include the Anhinga Trail, Mahogany Hammock, Paurotis Pond, Nine Mile Pond, Snake Bright Trail, Mrazek Pond, and Eco Pond.

All of these locations are accessed through the main entrance at Homestead.

3. Bike the Shark Valley Trail

If you’d rather bike than book a tram tour, the Shark Valley Trail, a 15-mile paved scenic loop, provides excellent opportunities to view wildlife.

It’s the most popular destination for bicyclists in the park. You also have access to the observation tower along this trail.

Visit This Hidden Gem In Everglades National Park

If you prefer the water to land, the freshwater marshes, mangrove forests, 10,000 Islands, and Florida Bay offer ample opportunities to explore Everglades National Park.

You can bring your own kayak or canoe or rent one from Everglades Florida Adventures or Flamingo Adventures.

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced paddler, the Everglades has unique places to discover, from the Gulf Coast to the Flamingo area.

Best Places For Camping Near Everglades National Park

RVers have two options inside the park: Flamingo Campground and Long Pine Key Campground.

Flamingo Campground is open year-round and is accessible from the Homestead entrance. There are over 200 sites, but the maximum trailer length is 35 feet. You can choose from electric sites or primitive sites.

Long Pine Key Campground is only open from November to May. These sites are primitive, with a maximum trailer length of 35 feet. However, this campground is much closer to the main entrance at Homestead than Flamingo Campground.

Wilderness camping is also permitted inside Everglades National Park. Wilderness permits are required for all overnight camping. Reservations can be made on up to three months in advance.

If you prefer to stay outside the park, Larry & Penny Thompson Park Campground is about 30 minutes away. It’s ideal for travelers wanting to visit both Everglades and Biscayne. It’s a popular location, and the campground stays full during winter. All 240 sites have full hookups.

Is Visiting Everglades National Park Worth It?

Everglades National Park is one of the most unique national parks in the U.S. In 2022, over 1.1 million people visited this southeastern Florida treasure. Other years to see over one million visitors over the last decade include 2012-2015, 2017, and 2019.

It’s a popular park, mainly since most visits occur within four or five months.

So check out Everglades National Park for yourself. Discover the unique ecosystem that sustains hundreds of species, from amphibians to birds to reptiles to mammals.

Learn about the diverse flora and fauna, including lichens, marine plants, orchids, wildflowers, and more.

You may surprised that this landscape exists in the U.S. Thankfully, conservationists had the forethought to protect this fragile area for generations to come. What will you discover at Everglades National Park?

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