Everglades National Park

Florida Bay at Flamingo looking North into Everglades

Everglades National Park is a United States National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Florida in the state of Florida.

Understand

Everglades National Park, protecting more than 1.5 million acres, is the 3rd largest national park in the lower 48 states, behind Yellowstone National Park (2nd) and Death Valley National Park (1st). During the dry season most facilities are open and a full range of tours and programs are available to enjoy. During the wet season of June to October, facilities may have restricted hours or close altogether, and recreational opportunities may be at a minimum.

The park has four visitor centers:

Landscape

It's flat but don't let that fool you into thinking there is no variety. A couple of inches of height brings a marked difference in flora and fauna. The highest ground is populated by Dade County Slash Pine forest, with underbrush that includes saw palmetto. Both plants encourage fire which keeps the hardwoods out. A little lower "altitude" brings cypress heads, and lower than that swampland (a river of grass). In the swampland, small hills (a couple of inches higher than water level) are covered with tropical hardwoods with dense foliage below. As you get to the south and southwest part of the 'glades, the tides bring in salt loving plants like mangroves and their kin. There is a lot to see but it takes paying attention to it—and it is well worth the time. Things that may seem small at first may be really big and bring fond memories.

Flora and fauna

Wood stork in the Everglades

The area is home to rare and endangered species, such as the American crocodile, Florida panther, and West Indian manatee. Over 1,000 species of plants live here.

Collecting plants and animals in Everglades National Park is prohibited. This includes such things as orchids, airplants, seahorses, starfish, conch, tropical fish, coral, sponges, and driftwood (except for fuel). One quart of non-occupied sea shells may be collected per person.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°F) 77 78 80 83 87 89 90 90 89 87 82 79
Nightly lows (°F) 56 59 61 64 70 75 75 75 75 71 65 60
Precipitation (in) 1.7 1.7 2.0 1.8 3.5 7.2 5.6 7.9 6.3 3.8 2.4 1.7

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)

Weather is mild and pleasant from December through April, though rare cold fronts may create near-freezing conditions. Average winter temperatures are: High 77°F (25°C); Low 53°F (12°C). Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures around 90°F (32°C) and humidity over 90%. Afternoon thunderstorms are common and mosquitoes are abundant. Hurricane season is June–November. Tropical storms or hurricanes may affect the area. The rainy season is June through October, coinciding with the mosquito season. Average Rainfall: 60 inches (152 cm) per year.

Get in

By plane

The closest airport to the Everglades is Miami International Airport. It is a hub for American Airlines, which has service within the United States and to the Caribbean, South America, and Europe.

By car

Two US Highways serve the Everglades from Miami: Route 41 which runs west, and Route 1 which runs south.

Fees/Permits

Entrance fees: Vehicles $10 for 7 days. Pedestrian/bicyclist $5 for 7 days. Everglades National Park Annual Pass $25 is valid for twelve months from the date of purchase. It admits the purchaser and any accompanying persons in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle, or the purchaser and accompanying immediate family (spouse, children, parents) when entry is by other means (bicycle, foot, and boat).

There are several passes that allow free entry for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes are valid at all national parks including Everglades National Park:

In 2016 the National Park Service will offer several days on which entry is free for all national parks: January 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), April 16-24 (National Park Week), August 25-28 (National Park Service's 100th birthday weekend), September 24 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).

Activity fees: Camping Fees at park campgrounds: $14 per night. Backcountry Camping Fees (Permit Required): $10 per permit plus $2 per person per night. Maximum 14 days.

See

Gators in Flamingo, FL

Do

Map of Everglades National Park

Eat

Everglades City has a few great seafood restaurants that serve local fare, including fried alligator.

Drink

Key West Sunset Ale from the Florida Brewing Company

Landshark Lager from Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville brand of food and drink

Sleep

Camping

Two drive-in campgrounds are located within the park. Both campgrounds can accommodate tents and RVs. A limited number of group sites are also available. Leave-no-trace camping principles apply.

Fees: Nightly fees are $16 per site at either campground (2006). If you have a Golden Age card (U.S. Citizen 62 or over) or a Golden Access Card (permanently disabled), camping is half price. This does not apply to group sites, which are $30 per night. Owing to limited usage and difficult conditions, camping is typically free of charge during the wet season.

Backcountry

Visitors can select between a variety of ground sites, beach sites and elevated camping platforms (sometimes called chickees). Most sites are accessible by canoe, kayak or motorboat, though a few may be reached by hikers. Visitors should be aware that none of the park's 47 backcountry sites are accessible by car. Backcountry trips here require more planning than most. Reference the park'sWilderness Trip Planner.

A backcountry permit is required for all wilderness campsites. Permits are only issued the day before or the day of the start of your camping trip. Permits are not issued over the telephone. Wilderness permits are written from the Ernest Coe Visitor Center only for two land sites in the Long Pine Key area: Ernest Coe and Ingraham Highway. For all other campsites, permits may be obtained at the Flamingo and Gulf Coast Visitor Centers. Winter wilderness users whose trips originate from the Florida Keys can obtain permits by phone by calling +1 239-695-2945 for the following locations only: North Nest Key, Little Rabbit Key, Carl Ross Key, and the Cape Sable Beaches. Permit Fees: $10 per permit plus $2 per person per night.

Stay safe

American Alligators at Everglades
American Crocodile

Go next

Big Cypress National Preserve is adjacent to the northern edge of the park. The Miami area is within reach.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.