|Expect the unexpected at the amazing
Everglades National Park, Florida, the third largest national park in America! A
"River of Grass" is its foremost attraction, along with a fragile and remarkable
eco-system that supports a variety of plant and animal life ranging from microscopic algae
to giant alligators and the Florida panther. Come here for excellent wildlife watching and
walk away marveling at Mother Nature's ingenuity and survival tactics.
The 1.6 million acres of the Everglades National Park offer
tremendous opportunities to be one with Nature. Explore the amazing wildlife in the park
as you wish - hiking, fishing, boating or cycling. The River of Grass is at its
best in the Shark Valley, home to the Miccosukee Indians. There is an excellent 2-hour
tram ride through this section of the park.
The Flamingo section of the park at the southern tip
of Florida is a wildlife enthusiasts idea of paradise -- spend a couple of days here
observing the complex and magical bio-systems of the Everglades. Sport fishing enthusiasts
also head for Flamingo -- as a former fishing colony, it offers the best of fishing in the
park. Bird watchers, rejoice for Flamingo has some things up its sleeve for you too - the
Pelican Backcountry Cruise and the Bald Eagle Sunset Cruise are just mindblowing.
In the Gulf Coast section of the park, you can go
for informative boat tours with guides who take you around the many mangrove islands
called Ten Thousand Islands where you can spot dolphins, eagles and other resident
animals. Other interesting trails in the Everglades are the Mahogany Hammock Trail to the
largest mahogany tree in the country, the Nine Mile Pond Loop accessible by canoe which
travels through alligator infested waters.
An entry pass costs US$ 5 for pedestrians and bikers. This
pass is valid for 7 days. Private vehicles pay US$ 10 for a period of 7 days. Annual
passes worth US$20 are available too.
American citizens are eligible for lifetime passes, which
allow entry to all the national parks in the country. These passes are free for those with
permanent disabilities, and cost a nominal amount- between US$10 and 50- for everybody
Best time to visit
Though the park is open throughout the year, winter, i.e.
between December and April, is the best time to visit. The weather is pleasant with less
of humidity and the wildlife gather more prominently around the 'gator holes' , the only
source of water. There are fewer mosquitos and bugs in winter, making life easier! Summer
is a difficult time as it is very hot and humid with temperatures reaching the 90s (F) and
the insect/mosquito population is tremendous. Also, summer storms cause flooding, making
it hard to do anything!
The nearest airport is the Miami International Airport
which is served by major domestic and international carriers. The airport is 35 miles away
from the gateway to the Park at Florida City and Homestead.
There are several roads which lead to Everglades National
Park: From the south, get on to Florida's turnpike (Route 826/874) and the Florida's
Turnpike Extension which will lead you to the gateway towns. To get to the eastern part of
the Everglades, get on to Route 9336 at Florida City. The U.S 41 allows you to access the
northern part of the Everglades. You can also enter the park for free via Everglades City,
on Route 29 off the U.S 41.
Within the park, accommodation is limited to one lodge, the
Flamingo Lodge -reservations are a must, especially in winter. However, you can choose to
camp at the good campgrounds at Long Pine Key and Flamingo sections of the park. Outside
the park, especially in Florida City and Everglades City, there are some reasonably priced
motels and hostels. Campgrounds are available around the park and are quite reasonably
If you are camping, be sure to stock up enough food
supplies as there are no facilities to do so within the park.