Park Tally: 18/59
Orientation: Everglades National Park is located in south-west Florida, around one hour from Miami. The park has a wide range of land to explore (1.5 million acres!) and two main sections that visitors flock to. Shark Valley, a northern access point, is a popular area of the Everglades for Miamians to visit. The southern entrance to the park can be found via Homestead and is another very scenic and popular place for visitors.
The park has two distinct seasons – dry season and mosquito season. Dry season is between November to March and sees higher visitor numbers due to more bearable temperatures and fewer bugs. Dry season also attracts the largest variety of wading birds and their predators. Wet (mosquito) season is between April to November and many of the campsites and ranger-led programs are closed due to lower visitation numbers.
Most iconic view: Gators! The Everglades are famous for their alligators, crocodiles and bird life. We saw numerous alligators (including babies!) and wading birds whilst exploring the Shark Valley and Royal Palm areas. To our surprise, we even saw a bird dive into the marsh in front of us, emerge with a snake and fly away! You really don’t have to venture far into the Everglades to see a plethora of wildlife.
Accessible activity: Visitors can opt to take a scenic 2-hour tram tour through the Shark Valley section of the park. The tours have naturalists on board to provide insights into the Everglades ecosystem and hidden gems of the park. The paved road is also a popular biking spot, with many visitors bringing their own bicycles or choosing to rent them at the trail entrance. We opted to walk a section of the road ourselves so that we could take all the time we wanted.
Another enjoyable and “easy” walk is the Anhinga Trail in the Royal Palm section of the park. This 0.8-mile wheelchair accessible trail wanders along a scenic boardwalk through marshland and by the water. Be prepared to see lush foliage and ample wildlife.
For the adventurous: Looking for a bigger adventure? Consider getting out into the wilderness and exploring the quiet and isolated parts of the Everglades. There are 40+ backcountry campsites within the park. These can be accessed by canoe, kayak or motorboat (except one site in the Flamingo area that can be accessed by foot). Be sure to follow leave no trace principles and keep a safe distance from wildlife.
Best photo opportunities: We found sunrise to be the most beautiful time of day in the park. Early mornings are also less busy, slightly cooler and fewer bugs are out. Consider exploring the Anhinga Trail or the Gumbo Limbo Trail in the Royal Palm section of the park. Sunrise will provide opportunities for golden light and still water – resulting in the perfect backdrop for photography.
- Everglades National Park was established in 1934 to protect the unique ecosystem from building plans and projects. The park was later listed as a World Heritage Site, a Wetland of International Importance, and a designated International Biosphere Reserve.
- The park consists of the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie in North America and the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.
- Everglades is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators coexist in the wild.
- Approximately a third of Floridians rely on water from the Everglades for fresh supply, another reason why protecting the area is so vital.
- Everglades National Park is home to numerous endangered species, including the Florida panther, the manatee, and the American crocodile.
- The park attracted 930,907 visitors in 2016