Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park, US The U.S.’s third-largest national park is a vast, diverse and fascinating wilderness area that covers most of the lower tip of the Florida Peninsula. The 1.5 million acres of wetlands are filled with millions of crocodiles, turtles, endangered birds, fish, and many endangered species, including the extremely rare Florida panther.

Areas of the forest include pine uplands, sawgrass rivers, hardwood forests, mangrove islands, and marshy marshlands. The Everglades National Park is only accessible from three different points of view, each at a considerable distance from the others. No road passes through the center of the park or connects one visitor center to another. Visitors to Everglades National Park are virtually guaranteed abundant animal sightings, especially wading birds and alligators, and the U.S. A chance to experience and learn about the delicate ecosystem of the region’s largest subtropical wilderness area.

Whether you take a deep dive into the park or just visit for a few hours, the “untamed” nature of the Everglades is immediately apparent—it’s certainly a place where wildlife and often inhospitable environments should be respected and respected.

Everglades National Park: The Complete Guide

Things to Do in Everglades National Park

There are four park visitor centers across from the three park entrances. The activities and animal viewing possibilities at each of these visitor centers vary by region.

Gulf Coast Visitor Center

The park’s Gulf Coast Visitor Center is located in Everglades City, which, along with neighboring Chocolosky, is the southernmost city on Florida’s west coast. A 2017 hurricane destroyed the permanent visitor center, with a temporary center erected in its place. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is the access point to the Ten Thousand Islands, a network of mangrove islands that begin at Marco Island and extend to the rest of the west coast.

The visitor center has bathroom facilities but no food and drinks service, although these can be found in the City of Everglades. Boat rides from the center give visitors the opportunity to spot rare white pelicans, as well as bottlenose dolphins, and with any luck, many endangered birds, including the endangered West Indian manatees. You are unlikely to see alligators here, as they prefer to sunbathe themselves in areas of saltwater and dry land.

Activities and services available at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center include:

  • Interpretive displays
  • Maps and brochures
  • Backcountry permits
  • Ranger talks
  • Interpretive tours of the Ten Thousand Islands on a pontoon boat
  • Canoe and kayak rentals
  • Birdwatching from the shoreline

Need to know: Boat rides and rentals are offered through Everglades Florida Adventures, a park concessionaire. Camping in the Ten Thousand Islands is only possible with a backcountry permit, and primitive campsites with no water or facilities are accessible only by boat. Novice campers or sailors should not attempt to camp in the wild or navigate the maze of islands and waterways by boat. Many primitive camps are closed from May to September, which is the bird-nesting season.

Shark Valley Visitor Center

Located on US 41, also known as the Tamiyami Trail, the Shark Valley Visitor Center is located on the northern side of the “River of Grass,” a vast area of ​​freshwater prairie and slough that is actually a slow-moving river. The visitor center is located about 73 miles from Naples, on the west coast, and 40 miles from Miami, making it a reasonable day trip from either location. It is one of the most popular access points to the park and provides almost instant animal sightings, including alligators drowning themselves at the entrance. The visitor center has a bathroom, drinks, and snacks.

From the visitor center, a 15-mile paved loop road plunges into the grassy river and provides an easy introduction to the park’s ecosystem. Visitors can walk, bike, or take a tram along the trail and easily spot alligators, American alligators, aquatic turtles, fish, monster-sized alligators, birds, turtles, and occasionally otters or white-tailed deer. An observation tower at the trail’s midway point offers sweeping views of miles and miles of wetlands.

Activities and services available at the Shark Valley Visitor Center include:

  • Interpretive displays
  • Maps and brochures
  • Ranger talks
  • Interpretive tram rides along the loop road
  • Bicycle rentals
  • Paved and unpaved walking trails

Need to know: Bike rentals, tram rides, and breakfast and beverage services are offered through Shark Valley Tram Tours, a park concessionaire. December through March, Florida’s dry season, are the busiest tourist months in Florida, and Shark Valley is also the peak time for animal sightings, which congregate in and around canals and watercourses. If you visit during this period, try to come in the middle of the week, when the park is less crowded.

Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center

The largest and most comprehensive visitor center in the Everglades National Park, the Ernest F. The Coe Visitor Center is located on State Road 9336 on Florida’s east coast 50 miles south of Miami. It is also the park headquarters. Located in the “swamp” section of the park, the visitor center is surrounded by dense forests and mulch meadows and is another prime spot for wildlife viewing. On-site services include bathrooms and a nice gift shop that also sells snacks, drinks, and, importantly, mosquito repellent.

From the visitor center, guests will find interpretive signage, wildlife-viewing platforms, and nearby, the Royal Palm Nature Center, with more informative displays, trails, and up-close animal views, walking paths. Here, animal sighting possibilities include alligators (again!), rose spoonbills, anhinga, and the usual vast array of birds and aquatic life. Although it is highly, highly unlikely you will see one, Florida Panthers have been spotted around the visitor center.

Activities and services available at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center include:

  • Interpretive displays and films
  • Maps and brochures
  • Ranger talks
  • Paved and unpaved walking trails
  • Wildlife viewing platforms and boardwalks
  • Park headquarters
  • Campground

Need to know: Where there is standing water, there are mosquitoes, and this side of the park, in particular, is dense with them. Bring your own bug spray, or prepare to run from your car to the visitor center for mosquito repellents – they’re in vogue here.

Flamingo Visitor Center

Literally, at the end of the road, the Flamingo Visitor Center sits at the end of State Road 9336, where it runs smack into the Gulf of Mexico at Florida Bay. This is Ernest F. The Coe is 38 miles from the Visitor Center, which is a long drive as there are so many good places to pull along the road and watch wildlife. Once you reach the water’s edge, it may be possible to see manatees, dolphins, and wild flamingos.

More developed than you might expect, in addition to interpretive displays and park information at the Flamingo Visitor Center, the Flamingo Visitor Center has a snack bar, a marina store, bathrooms, boat tours, and rentals, a campground, and a gas station.

Activities and services available at the Flamingo Visitor Center include:

  • Interpretive displays
  • Maps and brochures
  • Ranger talks
  • Narrated boat tours
  • Bicycle, canoe, kayak, and fishing gear rentals
  • A developed campground
  • Backcountry camping permits
  • Paved and unpaved walking trails

Need to know: Boat tours and rentals, bike rentals, and other paid services are offered through Flamingo Adventures, a park concessionaire. Bring or buy mosquito spray. If you’re traveling for the day from Miami or Homestead/Florida City, time your trip so you’re not driving on Park Road after dark.

Best Hikes & Trails

Because so much of Everglades National Park is underwater and much of the backcountry is inaccessible, there are only a few hiking trails at the visitor centers, and they are short walks with no elevation change. There are no hiking trails from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. Top trails include:

From Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center:

  • Anhinga Trail: Accessed from the Royal Palm Nature Center, this .8-mile trail winds through a swamp and offers close-up views of birds and alligators.
  • Gumbo Limbo Trail: This .4-mile trail passes in the shade of palm and gumbo limbo hammocks and is a prime viewing area for lovers of orchids and bromeliads.

From Flamingo Visitor Center:

  • West Lake Trail: This half-mile boardwalk is suspended over a mangrove swamp and extends into Florida Bay.
  • Snake Bite Trail: A rough, 1.6-mile trail and section of the boardwalk is prime terrain for gopher turtles, white-tailed deer, and raptor sightings.

From Shark Valley Visitor Center:

  • Park Loop Trail: The 15-mile paved loop that is the centerpiece of Shark Valley offers abundant wildlife viewing of a dizzying array of species and can be walked or biked.
  • Bobcat Boardwalk: This half-mile raised boardwalk passes over a sawmill and hardwood hammock and allows an up-close view of the park ecosystem.

Other Activities in the Park

Gulf Coast, Flamingo, and Ernest F. Fishing are possible at the Koe Visitor Centers. A fishing license is required for Florida residents and non-residents, and short-term licenses are available.
Canoes, kayaks, and motorboat rentals are available at the Gulf Coast and Flamingo visitor centers.
Biking and bike rentals are offered at Shark Valley, Flamingo, and Ernest F. It is done in the centers.

Camping and Hotels

Flamingo and Ernest F. Koe visitor centers have developed campgrounds, some with electrical hook-ups. Near the Park Visitor Centers, the closest recommended hotels and motels are:

The Everglades Rod & Gun Club, with rustic cottages and a historic bar and restaurant, is in Everglades City, a mile from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center.
Those looking to stay closer to Shark Valley should consider the Comfort Suites Miami-Kendall, 26 miles away, or the Mikosuki Resort & Gaming, a tribal-owned hotel and casino 18 miles away.
Ernest F. There are many budgets to mid-range hotels in Florida City, 9 miles away, near the Coe Visitor Center. Florida City is also the last mainland stop before the Florida Keys, making it a convenient, if not particularly scenic, the base for exploring the park and the Keys.
At the Flamingo Visitor Center, Flamingo Adventures rents houseboats and eco-tents and is developing a 24-room hotel, with a restaurant set to open in late 2021.

How to Get There

How you get to Everglades National Park depends on which coast of Florida you are on and which visitor center you plan to visit. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is convenient to Fort Myers, Naples, and Marco Island on the west coast, and has an international airport at Fort Myers. Ernest F. The Coe and Flamingo Visitor Centers are closest to Miami and Miami International Airport. The Shark Valley Visitor Center is on US 41, one of two roads intersecting the southern end of the state. It is close to Miami but can be reached on a day trip from Naples. A car is required to reach all park access points.


The park visitor center and bathrooms are wheelchair accessible. Many of the most popular park trails are paved for wheelchair access. Unpaved trails can be rough but there is virtually no elevation change. Guided boat tours are wheelchair accessible.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Whenever and wherever you arrive at the park, bring sunscreen, a hat, water, and mosquito repellent, as well as a camera and binoculars.
  • Alligators may look dull in sunlight on dry land, but it should never be tempting to get too close. Never try to catch alligators or get too close to them. Sure they’re cute, but mom is never far.
  • Never attempt to feed or touch wildlife, even raccoons and birds that are accustomed to taking snacks from humans.
  • Leashed pets are allowed on paved vehicular roads (but not the Shark Valley Loop) and campgrounds. They are not allowed on hiking and biking trails or in any wilderness areas.

Similar Articles

Important Link

  • Everglades national park airboat tours (Link)
  • Everglades national park map (Link)
  • Everglades national park camping (Link)
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