America’s Everglades – The largest subtropical wilderness in the United States
Everglades National Park protects an unparalleled landscape that provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther. An international treasure as well – a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance, and a specially protected area under the Cartagena Treaty.
The Everglades is an expansive area of land in south Florida, which consists of 1.5 million acres of wetland. Since the park covers such a large area of south Florida, planning is a must. There are three entrances to Everglades National Park and they are not connected, they are accessed through different areas of south Florida. The northern section of the park is accessible via Miami or Everglades City, the southern section is accessible through Homestead.
All these areas offer a wide range of activities. You can take a short walk on the Anhinga Trail to spot abundant wildlife–turtles, herons and alligators! Climb atop Shark Valley’s 65-foot observation tower for a bird’s eye view of the glades. Glide over Florida Bay by tour boat or kayak for a chance to glimpse a crocodile, manatee, or dolphin. Watch as the sun sets over Flamingo, the southernmost point in mainland Florida. Explore the pinelands by bike, paddle amongst the mangroves on Nine-Mile Pond, or tour the historic Nike Hercules missile base. Join a ranger on a slough slog deep into the heart of a cypress dome. Find solitude on your own on a week-long canoe trip, camping along the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway. With countless opportunities for discovery, click on the website link above to help you plan an adventure that’s right for you!
It is important to know that the Everglades has two very distinct seasons: dry season and wet season. Dry season lasts from November to March and wet season lasts from April to November. Dry season is also the busy season because of the warm winters that attract the largest variety of wading birds and their predators. Wet season is buggy and many ranger programs are no longer offered. This is why it is important to check ahead of time the current schedule for ranger programs.
Visiting the Everglades allows you to explore a vast diversity of flora and fauna in different eco-systems: freshwater sloughs, marl prairies, tropical hammocks, pineland, cypress, mangrove, coastal lowlands, marine, and estuarine. There is a lot of area to discover at the Everglades, so it is vital to be prepared.
Entrance fees for the National Park are $25 per private vehicle, $20 per motorcycle, and $8 per pedestrian/cyclist.