Everglades National Park Sign in Everglades National Park Florida

Where is Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park resides in southern Florida, and the park protects the southern twenty percent of the original Everglades. The park was the first national park designated to protect a fragile ecosystem. Wildlife within this ecosystem is abundant and incredibly diverse; the Everglades system protects a variety of endangered species. Visitors traveling to Everglades National Park can expect to find a variety of marine, swamp, and freshwater environments, miles of hiking trails, four visitor centers, and an extensive series of campsites. Everglades National Park is located about 55 miles or an hour and a half drive south of Miami.  The Park is also about 134 miles or a two hour and thirty-minute drive north of Key West, Florida. 

How Large is Everglades National Park

Everglades US National Park is the largest tropical wilderness found in the United States. The park is also the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River, and the third largest national park in the continental United States. The park covers a total of more than 1,508,000 acres. Across these one and a half million acres, the park provides a home to 36 protected or threatened species, 350 species of birds, 300 species of freshwater and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of mammals. These species are also just the species humans have identified. New species are found by scientists researching in the Everglades ecosystem constantly.

Everglades National Park Weather

The climate of Everglades National Park is a tropical savanna climate. Locations equipped with this type of climate experience warm weather throughout the year and large quantities of seasonal rain. The rainy season of Everglades National Park lasts from May to October. However, rain is still common but not as extreme throughout the rest of the year. Average summer temperatures in the park fluctuate between highs of 90 degrees and lows of 75 degrees. In the winter, temperatures in the park are relatively the same with highs of 80 degrees and lows of 60 degrees.

View of Sunrise Over Lake With Flying Heron in Everglades National Park Florida

When did Everglades National Park Become a National Park

Everglades National Park was first designated as a national park site in 1934. The park was also designated as Biosphere Reserve in 1976, a World Heritage Site in 1979, and a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention in 1987. Everglades National Park is only one of three sites to receive all three of these designations. Over the years, Everglades National Park has also been included on several less than positive lists including the List of World Heritage in Danger from 1993 until 2007 and then again in 2010 due to continued algal blooms that have negatively impacted marine life in the park. The park has seen nineteen different superintendents since its creation in 1934. The current superintendent has served in the park since 2015.

Things to do in Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park contains a variety of opportunities for outdoor activities and exploration. Visitors arriving at the park will find a host of adventures that they can participate in. Our National Park Visitors Guide provides the following list which includes several of the more popular adventures found in Everglades National Park. 

Orient Yourself at a Visitor Center

Everglades National Park is widely referred to as being separated into four areas two of which are represented by a particular visitor center. These visitor centers are the Flamingo and Shark Cove Visitor Centers. Other areas of the park include Pine Island and Gulf Coast. The Flamingo and Shark Cove Visitor Centers contain a variety of educational displays and exhibits that discuss various features of Everglades National Park. Park staff working in the visitor center can also assist visitors in terms of orientation, directions, or additional information about the park and its contents. 

Hike a Trail at Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park contains a large trail system that meanders throughout the entire park. Visitors will find popular trails within the Flamingo, Shark Cove, Pine Island, and Gulf Coast areas of the park. Visitors in the Flamingo area may want to check out the West Lake or Snake Bight Trail, whereas visitors in Shark Cove may choose to venture down the Otter Cave Hammock Trail or the Bobcat Boardwalk Trail. Visitors looking for information on the park’s hiking trails can obtain a park trail map from one of the park’s visitor centers.

Purple Gallinule Walking on Lilly Pads in Everglades National Park Florida

Paddle Down a Canoe or Kayak Trail

In addition to trails that meander across the Everglades National Park land area, the park also provides access to several paddling trails. These trails include short easily accessible paddling routes and a 99-mile wilderness paddling route. Visitors looking to plan a trip on the 99-mile wilderness route will want to pack and plan very carefully. The Everglades are a wild environment and should be treated as such. Visitors embarking on a trip of this caliber should be able to handle their own first aid and be in excellent condition. Visitors will also need to obtain a wilderness camping permit from the park.

Cast a Line into the Everglades

One of the more popular activities practiced in Everglades National Park is fishing. Freshwater and saltwater fishing are accessible within Everglades National Park. Visitors looking to fish in both saltwater and freshwater will need to obtain two separate licenses from the state of Florida. Popular species targeted within the saltwater environments of Everglades National Park include Red snapper, Sea Trout, and redfish. All Florida fishing regulations also apply within the waters of Everglades National Park.

Join a Ranger Led Program

In each of the park’s four areas, park rangers lead a variety of interpretive programs. These programs are great resources for visitors looking to learn more about the park’s history, ecology, or impact. Popular programs offered in the park are not limited to but include Early Bird Walks, Guided Canoe Tours, and Croc Talks. More information regarding the particular programs offered on a given day can be obtained from the park’s visitor centers. 

Camping in Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park contains a variety of front country and backcountry campsites. The majority of front country campsites that provide access to some services are located near Long Pine Key or near Flamingo. These sites can be reserved online through the park’s website and reservation portal. However, all of the backcountry campsites found along the wilderness paddling route are first come first serve.

Sunrise View of Wooden Dock in Everglades National Park Florida

Wildlife Viewing in Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is one of the best locations in the United States for birding and wildlife viewing. Visitors can expect to see a large variety of avian species during their trip to the park. Other popular species often spotted throughout the park include American alligators, white-tailed deer, raccoons, a variety of other mammals, several species of snakes, and several species of turtles.

When to Visit Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park can realistically be visited throughout the entire year. However, visitation in the park peaks between December and March when temperatures cool slightly, and mosquitos are less prevalent. Visitors arriving at any time of the year will have access to the park’s facilities, campsites, and large trail system. Visitors looking to camp in the park during peak season should make their reservations well in advance.

Must Have Items to Bring to Everglades National Park

A trip to Everglades National Park requires a particular list of equipment. The following list includes several essential items visitors should bring with them to the park. However, visitors planning to camp in the park’s backcountry will need to complete additional packing and planning before arriving at Everglades National Park. 

Water & High Energy Snacks

List of Parks highly advises vast supplies of water are essential when recreating in the penetrating sun of southern Florida. Temperatures in the park can dehydrate visitors rather quickly. Visitors planning to hike or otherwise recreate in the park should also bring a variety of high energy snacks along with them to provide a boost after a long day or at the end of a long hike.

Bug Spray

Mosquitos in Everglades National Park are prevalent and annoying. To protect yourself from diseases these insects may carry, you should bring and apply bug spray. Look to purchase bug spray that is not harmful to the environment or other animals.

View of Long Pine Key Lake at Sunset in Everglades National Park Florida

Sunglasses & Sunscreen

All visitors of Everglades National Park should arrive with sunglasses and sunscreen to protect themselves from the south Florida sun.

Fishing Equipment

Anglers visiting Everglades National Park should remember to bring all of their freshwater and saltwater fishing equipment. Anglers should also remember that freshwater and saltwater fishing require two different Florida fishing licenses.

Camping Equipment

The easiest way to keep track of all of the equipment you will need to camp within Everglades National Park is to create and utilize a camping checklist. The checklist should include obvious items like your tent and sleeping bag and other items such as a headlamp, batteries, and portable stove.

Where to Stay in Everglades National Park

Visitors looking to camp within the front country of Everglades National Park will want to make a reservation for one of the park’s campsites online through the park’s reservation portal. Backcountry campsites along the wilderness paddling route do not require reservations. Visitors looking to stay outside of the park in a nearby hotel should check for options in Florida City and Everglades City.

Sunrise at Everglades National Park Florida

Food Near Everglades National Park

Other than snacks for sale in the park’s visitor centers and the occasional food truck in Flamingo, Everglades National Park does not offer visitors any food or restaurant services. Visitors are urged to bring all of the food, beverages and snacks they will need throughout the day with them to the park. Several restaurants reside just outside the park in Florida City and Everglades City.

Airports Near Everglades National Park

The closest international airport to Everglades National Park resides in Miami, Florida. The Miami International Airport is located about 36 miles and 45 miles away from the national park. Visitors traveling to or from the national park will want to allow for additional time due to the park’s busy roads.

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