Everglades National Park is only a one hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Miami, but the park encompasses 1.5 million acres of tropical and subtropical habitat with one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. It was for this very reason that Congress established the Everglades as a National Park in 1934. The park has since been designated as an International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance and a World Heritage Site.
At least one million people from all over the world visit the Everglades each year. There are three main entry points: the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, which is closest to Naples and south of Everglades city; the Shark Valley area that can be accessed by US 41 (also known as the Tamiami Trail); and the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, the park’s main headquarters.
The Florida Everglades are home to a diverse array of wildlife within the park’s five different habitats: the Hammock, Mangrove, Pineland, Sawgrass, and Slough. Notable Everglades animals include tree frogs, alligators, the American crocodile, manatee, Key deer, otters, and the Florida panther. The park is located along avian migratory routes, so birding is also a popular activity.
The tropical climate means that there are two primary seasons in the Florida Everglades: wet and dry. From December to April, the dry season brings low humidity and mild temperatures from 53°F to 77°F. This is peak tourist season because the water levels are lower and the animals congregate in central water locations. The wet season lasts from May through November. Temperatures during this time of year can exceed 90°F. Humidity levels are higher and it rains the majority of the time.
Everglades Tours and Camping
There are numerous Everglades tours available at the park. Whether you choose to explore the park by boat, bicycle or on foot, the peak season for organized park tours runs from the middle of December through Easter. Everglades weather conditions can impact availability of certain activities, so check to see if a particular tour is currently running before making the trip. For example, canoe trips aren’t offered during the summer because of the sweltering heat. When traveling or camping in the park, bring an Everglades map and ask Everglades park rangers for safety tips.
There are Everglades camping sites available for RV’s and tents. The popular Long Pine Key Campground is located about seven miles from the park’s main entrance and comes equipped with restrooms, water, and septic dump station.