Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park sees over 590 thousand visitors each year

Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States. This mangrove and tropical rainforest ecosystem and marine estuary is home to 36 protected species, including the Florida panther, American crocodile, and West Indian manatee. Some areas have been drained and developed; restoration projects aim to restore the ecology.


Limestone is the bedrock of geology in Everglades National Park

The landscapes we see today in Everglades National Park, and in all of south Florida, are the direct result of geologic events of the past and ongoing environmental processes. Although the activities of humans have altered the south Florida landscape, the geologic record is still intact. The geologic secrets of the earth are visible to all who learn to recognize them. It is impossible to consider the geology of the Everglades without also considering the hydrology. Primarily consisting of limestone, the bedrock geology of Everglades National Park has responded over time to the ongoing processes of weathering, erosion, compaction of organic sediments, unique hydrologic conditions, and episodes of sea-level rise and fall to produce the landscapes we see today.

The first criterion listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in its designation of Everglades National Park as a World Heritage Site in 1979 is: The Everglades is a vast, nearly flat seabed that was submerged at the end of the last Ice Age. Its limestone substrate is one of the most active areas of modern carbonate sedimentation. UNESCO recognized that the subtropical wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems, and complex biological processes that make the Everglades a sanctuary for its legendary wildlife would not exist were it not for the underlying geology, which predefines existing Everglades landscapes and ecosystems.

As in most areas of south Florida, subtle changes in elevation result in dramatic changes in vegetation communities. Pine forests are present on the higher ground of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. Where fire has been excluded, pines give way to hardwood hammocks. In wetter areas near the end of the ridge, dwarf pond cypress grow. Sawgrass prairies extend south of the ridge. A narrow band of mangroves fringes the southeastern coast, and the shallow waters of Florida Bay provide an abundant food supply for great numbers of wading birds.

Geologic Setting

South Florida lies within the Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic province. Locally, this province is divided into seven subprovinces: Okeechobee Basin, Everglades, Big Cypress Swamp, Southern Atlantic Coastal Strip, Ten Thousand Islands, Southwestern Flatwoods, and Florida Keys (see map below).

Okeechobee Basin Subprovince

Prior to development in south Florida, water flowing through the Greater Everglades slowly trickled south down to the sea from the Okeechobee Basin subprovince in central Florida. During the summer rainy season, freshwater overflowed the south shore of Lake Okeechobee and flowed about 100 miles, dropping only about 12 to 14 feet in elevation, to reach its southern terminus in Florida Bay. From the late 1800s, human population has steadily increased in south Florida. Canals, ditches, dams, and levees were built to drain swamps for agriculture, oil and gas exploration, and urban development. Raised roadbeds, built from the spoils of canal construction, have dammed the natural, low relief, slow moving sheetflow of water from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. Thus, people have forever altered the once-steady, slow flow of freshwater through the Everglades, also known as the “River of Grass.”

Everglades Subprovince

The Everglades subprovince forms an elongate, south-dipping, low-lying area between the Southern Atlantic Coastal Strip subprovince to the east and the Big Cypress Swamp subprovince to the west. The basin has very low relief. The elevation change is only 12 to 14 feet from the maximum near Lake Okeechobee to sea level. Prior to the digging of canals and building of dams, flow in this drainage system was slow and steady from north to south.

Karst is a term used for the characteristic terrain produced by the chemical erosion of carbonate rocks such as limestone and dolomite. Acidic water dissolves the carbonate rock along cracks and fractures in the bedrock. Most precipitation is of relatively neutral pH but becomes increasingly acidic as it infiltrates live plant tissue, decaying plant debris, and soils before seeping into the ground. Over thousands of years, dissolution within pore spaces and along fractures creates increasingly larger voids.

The extensive carbonate rocks of Florida are inherently porous and have been exposed to weathering processes since the last significant interglacial period led to widespread flooding about 130,000 years ago. Since that time, much of the original bedrock has been altered and partially dissolved by acidic rain and groundwater. The Rocky Glades region of Everglades National Park is an area of karst that separates Shark River Slough from Taylor Slough. Solution holes are pits in karst that formed in the past when sea level and the water table were lower than present levels. Solution holes provide winter dry-season refuge for aquatic animals and provide a repopulation source for species upon reflooding of the marsh during the following summer wet season.

Two kinds of soil, marl and peat, occur in the Everglades. Marl is a product of periphyton, a complex assemblage of algae, cyanobacteria, microbes, and detritus. During the dry season, organic material in the periphyton oxidizes, leaving calcium carbonate behind as light-colored soil. Marl also is called calcitic mud and it is common in the short-hydroperiod (short-term flooding) wet prairies of Everglades National Park, where bedrock lies close to the surface. Marl is the most common soil seen on the drive to Flamingo along the main park road.

Peat soil is a product of long-hydroperiod (long-term flooding) wetlands and typically occurs in areas of deeper bedrock. Peat is composed of the organic remains of dead plants. The color of peat depends on its plant source. Peat derived from sawgrass is typically dark brown to black in color, the darkness a result of frequent, hot fires that burn during the winter dry season. Peat that is fossilized turns into coal, and like coal, peat will burn. Accumulation of peat requires anaerobic conditions, more commonly known as a lack of oxygen. Without oxygen, microorganisms cannot decompose plant material as fast as it accumulates. Abundant precipitation in south Florida during the summer rainy season causes flooding of vast low-lying areas, which prevents oxygen in the air from touching soils and allows the organic material to transform into peat. If left undisturbed over long periods of time, increasingly thick layers of peat accumulate until the surface is able to dry sufficiently to allow either decay or fire. Most natural fires that burn in the Everglades occur during the spring, typically coinciding with the end of the winter dry season when water levels are at their lowest and average daily temperatures are quickly rising. However, human interference in the ecosystem in the form of water-management practices has drained large parts of the Everglades and resulted in severe losses of peat in some areas.

Marl and peat soils are like opposites that cannot coexist. Marl requires aerobic conditions, while peat requires anaerobic conditions. Peat does not accumulate in the short-hydroperiod marshes in which marl accumulates, and the acidic conditions in which a peat soil thrives would dissolve marl.

Big Cypress Swamp Subprovince

The Big Cypress Swamp subprovince defines the western boundary of the Everglades subprovince. The rocks underlying Big Cypress Swamp are among the oldest in south Florida and are composed of silt, sand, and carbonate minerals. This area is slightly higher in elevation that the Everglades basin because it is underlain primarily by the coral-rich limestones of the Pliocene (3 to 5 million years ago) Tamiami Formation, which is exposed in large areas of Big Cypress National Preserve. Elevation in Big Cypress Swamp ranges from 12 to 39 feet above mean sea level in the northern reaches to just slightly above sea level in the mangrove areas in the south. Drainage in the province is primarily to the south and southwest.

Southern Atlantic Coastal Strip Subprovince

The Southern Atlantic Coastal Strip subprovince, including the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, consists of Pleistocene (Ice Age) Miami Limestone, a marine limestone covered by thin sheets of quartz sand. This limestone is composed of tiny spheres called ooids. Calcium carbonate settling out of the seawater coated tiny bits of shell and sand in layer upon layer. The resulting ooids, or spherical grains of limestone, were pushed by longshore currents into the linear Atlantic Coastal Ridge during the Pleistocene. The ooids later cemented into the rock formation known as Miami Limestone (formerly known as Miami Oolite), and this same limestone also covers much of the area to the east of Everglades National Park and most of Florida Bay. Farther to the west, the oolitic Miami Limestone grades into a marine limestone composed of the calcified carbonate remains of tiny moss animals called bryozoans, which lived in quieter waters in the area that is now the central part of Everglades National Park.

The Atlantic Coastal Ridge extends from Mahogany Hammock northeast to Miami and ranges in elevation from 5 to 20 feet in the southernmost parts. The width of the ridge ranges from about 10 miles in southern Miami-Dade County to 3 to 5 miles farther north. The ridge prevents water in the Everglades from flowing east and draining into the Atlantic Ocean, directing it instead toward the southwest and into Florida Bay. Much of the south Florida metropolitan area has been built along the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. Outside of park boundaries, much of this landscape has changed dramatically as a result of urban growth.

West Lake boardwalk
The West Lake trail immerses visitors in a forest of white mangrove, black mangrove, red mangrove, and buttonwood trees. Roundtrip, this self-guided, wheelchair-accessible loop trail is 0.5 miles (800 meters) long.
The southern parts of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge are breached in places by sloughs (marshy channels of water) oriented perpendicular to the trend of the ridge. The southernmost part of the Southern Atlantic Coastal Strip subprovince wraps around the southern end of peninsular Florida and contains vast tracts of coastal marshes and mangrove swamps. These wetlands cover the area extending from the northeastern part of Florida Bay, around the southern Florida peninsula, and west into the Gulf of Mexico as far as the Ten Thousand Island region near Everglades City. Strips of swamps and brackish marshes that are just above sea level characterize this area. Freshwater runoff and tidal fluxes cause the salinity to vary dramatically. Mangroves, capable of enduring salinity changes, thrive along the southern coastline.

Ten Thousand Islands Subprovince

A vast labyrinth of mangrove forest, oyster bars, tidal sloughs, and lagoons characterizes the Ten Thousand Islands subprovince, which extends for about 60 miles along the southwestern edge of the Big Cypress Swamp and Everglades subprovinces on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The complex of small islands that make up the Ten Thousand Islands protects inland areas from the destructive and powerful winds, large breaking waves, storm surge, and flooding caused by tropical storms and hurricanes that rampage from time to time in the Gulf of Mexico.

These uninhabited islands are surrounded by a highly productive estuary, where freshwater draining from the land mixes with saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico. The mangrove islands provide protected habitat, breeding grounds, and nursery areas for many terrestrial and marine animal species. Mangrove leaves, trunks, and branches eventually fall into the water where they decay and decompose into organic detritis, which forms the basis of an elaborate food chain. The nutrient-rich soup supports a robust marine nursery for species such as pink shrimp, snook, snapper, and tarpon.

The Ten Thousand Islands subprovince is largely the result of multiple sea-level fluctuations during the Ice Age. Although glacial ice never extended as far south as Florida, the effects of distant glaciation are evident. The resulting global-scale climatic and sea-level changes played a major role in the formation of the geologic formations and the overall landscapes that we see today in south Florida. Copious amounts of freshwater were trapped within the glaciers as the size of the massive continental ice sheets increased. As the ice sheets grew in size, sea level in south Florida lowered as much as 300 feet below present levels. The Great Ice Age actually consists of four shorter and smaller ice ages with periods of warming in between. During the warmer interglacial stages, large areas of ice melted, returning large amounts of fresh meltwater to the sea. The last interglacial stage occurred about 100,000 years ago. At its peak, sea level in south Florida rose about 100 feet above present levels. Over time, sea-level fluctuations resulted in constantly changing conditions during which periods of sediment deposition alternated with periods of erosion. The variable layering of rocks and sediments that tells the story of Florida’s sedimentary history is the result of these variations in sea level.

Florida Keys Subprovince

Composed of limestone or carbonate sand and mud, the Florida Keys subprovince consists of long, narrow islands that stretch in an arc from the northernmost keys of Biscayne National Park to the southwesternmost keys of remote Dry Tortugas National Park. The islands that make up the northern, upper keys are the exposed remnants of coral reefs that fossilized and were exposed as sea level declined. North of Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park lie several small transitional keys that are composed of sand built up around areas of exposed ancient coral reefs. Yet further north in the Miami metropolitan area, Key Biscayne is composed of sand, as are the barrier islands that protect much of the entire east coast of Florida.

To the south, the middle keys, along with much of Florida Bay, consist of oolitic limestone that is similar to the bedrock that makes up the previously discussed Atlantic Coastal Ridge. The shallow waters of Florida Bay are separated into many smaller basins by shallow banks and small islands. As far south and west as the Dry Tortugas, the lower keys consist of carbonate sands and muds that consist of the remains of small marine plants and animals.

Drastic fluctuations in sea level resulting from the Ice Age further shaped the Florida Keys into the landscape we see today. When sea level was above current levels, several parallel reefs formed along the edge of the submerged coastline, depositing the Key Largo Limestone. Later sea-level fluctuations caused some of the Miami Limestone to dissolve and then redeposit as a denser cap rock overlying the Key Largo and Miami limestones.

Southwestern Flatwoods Subprovince

Rounding out the physiographic subprovinces that make up south Florida are the Miocene (5 to 23 million years ago) and Pliocene (3 to 5 million years ago) sedimentary rocks and sediments that underlie the Southwestern Flatwoods subprovince, which lies to the northwest of the Everglades subprovince and west of the Okeechobee Basin subprovince. Landforms in this subprovince include flatwoods, cypress swamps, rocklands, and marl plains. Also present in the northwestern corner of Everglades National Park, the wedge-shaped Tamiami Formation crops out at land surface in the lower reaches of Big Cypress National Preserve and appears as far north as Fort Lauderdale on the east coast of Florida. Following deposition of the sediments of the Tamiami Formation in a warm, shallow sea, rising sea levels eroded and dissolved the uppermost layers, and a subsequent decline in sea levels resulted in deposition of the Miami Limestone on top of the Tamiami Formation. The highly permeable calcareous sandstones and sandy limestones that make up the Tamiami Formation are layered with impermeable clay-rich layers that cannot transport large amounts of groundwater. Commonly found fossils in the Tamiami Formation include barnacles, mollusks, corals, echinoids, foraminifera (marine amoeboid protists), and calcareous nanoplankton.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/evergeology.htm


Native American History

Home of the Calusa

The Calusa

The Calusa occupied the southwest region, while the Tequesta, Jega, and Ais tribes were located along the east coast of Southern Florida. However, Spanish accounts suggest that the Calusa tribe were the dominant tribe of the region and operated a complex Chiefdom that was comprised of a number of village communities all organized within a chiefly hierarchy. Archaeologists consider this type of complex organization rare for non-agrarian societies.

Calusa village communities were concentrated along the south west coast. They depended on fishing, as well as systematic foraging for sustenance. Living among the coastal mangroves of the Florida Gulf Coast, the Calusa utilized the abundance of shells around them to create their built environment. Archaeologists have identified shell mounds, which were piles of empty and discarded shells that had been used as tools after their contents were consumed. The Calusa also built shell formations. These built forms, called “shell works,” were large scale architecture which used ridges, mounds, platforms, and courtyards within their town plans. Their exact social uses are unknown, but it is likely that they were used to divide gathering places from sacred spaces and provide barriers from mosquitoes or ocean tides.

When the Spanish encountered the Calusa upon their arrival in the 16th century, they noted their shell works, intricate ceremonial art, and complex political system. Despite their strong organization and power in the region, the Calusa disappeared not long after their interactions with Spanish explorers. By the time the English gained control of Florida in 1763, the Tequesta and Calusa tribes had been severely decimated by incoming European diseases. According to early settlers, the remaining native people retreated deeper into the Everglades, while others migrated to Cuba to begin new settlements there in the late 1700s.

After the American Revolution the Spanish claimed ownership of Florida from Great Britain in 1783. This was soon called into question by Andrew Jackson, who invaded Florida in 1818. In 1821, the United States was able to take ownership of Florida and Jackson’s exploits to seize all of Florida continued. In 1835 the second Seminole War began and resulted in a seven year struggle to remove the Seminole population from Florida. The Seminole, living in small bands, were able to elude the incoming troops by retreating further into the mosquito ridden wilderness that left the inexperienced disoriented and frustrated. By the end of the seven years the United States relented on their earlier mission, however the Seminole population had been largely relocated.

Troubled relations between the Seminole and settlers had not tempered though, and the third Seminole War began in 1855 with a Seminole attack on Fort Myers. The war ended with the signing of a treaty in which the Seminole relinquished over 2 million acres of land in 1856. The Seminole that remained continued cattle ranching and farming in relative peace.


Park History

How Everglades became a National Park

Water in south Florida once flowed freely from the Kissimmee River to Lake Okeechobee and southward over low-lying lands to the estuaries of Biscayne Bay, the Ten Thousand Islands, and Florida Bay. This shallow, slow-moving sheet of water covered almost 11,000 square miles, creating a mosaic of ponds, sloughs, sawgrass marshes, hardwood hammock, and forested uplands. For thousands of years this intricate system evolved into a finely balanced ecosystem that formed the biological infrastructure for the southern half of the state. However, to early colonial settlers and developers the Everglades were potential farm land and communities. By the early 1900s’, the drainage process to transform wetland to land ready to be developed was underway. The results would be severely damaging to the ecosystem and the species it supported.

With the support of many early conservationists, scientists, and other advocates, Everglades National Park was established in 1947 to conserve the natural landscape and prevent further degradation of its land, plants, and animals. Although the captivation of the Everglades has mostly stemmed from its unique ecosystem, an alluring human story of the Everglades is deeply interwoven with its endless marshes, dense mangroves, towering palms, alligator holes, and tropical fauna. Various groups and people navigated through and wrestled with the watery landscape to make it home, and even to exploit its natural wonder at times. On these pages you can discover more about the Native Americans that existed and thrived; the agricultural development and drainage of the Everglades; the people and groups who advocated for the conservation of the area; the Everglades’ role in United States War efforts; the preservation and restoration work that continues today; and much more.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/historyculture/index.htm



The best things to do in Everglades National Park

Make one of the park’s four visitor centers your first stop!
Talk to a ranger at any of our visitor centers to learn more about the park and to help you plan your visit. Naturalists give talks and lead hikes, canoe trips, tram tours, and campfire programs.

At Royal Palm and Flamingo in Homestead, our main park entrance boasts wildlife that varies from fresh to saltwater species with many trails, campgrounds, and picnic areas along the way. At Everglades City the Gulf Coast Visitor Center is the park’s western saltwater getaway. Narrated boat tours explore pristine Ten Thousand Islands and coastal mangrove. At Shark Valley the wildlife-viewing tram tour through sawgrass prairie includes a stop at a 65-foot tower for spectacular views.

Which Entrance Should We Take?
The Everglades National Park covers more than 1.5 million acres in South Florida. While most of the park is remote and inaccessible, there are plenty of spots within a few minutes of Miami and Naples, where you can get a feel for the “River of Grass”.
Your first decision in visiting the Everglades is which entrance to use; there are three and they are hours apart from each other. If you want the opportunity to observe the heart of the everglades you can either enter through Shark Valley in Miami or the Main Entrance of the Park in Homestead. However, if you are looking to explore the Gulf Coast, then you should plan to take a boat trip at the Gulf Coast in Everglades City.

North Entrances
Shark Valley (Miami)
Named because its water flows southwest toward Shark River, Shark Valley is the heartland of the Everglades. At Shark Valley you can walk, bike, or ride a tram along a 15-mile loop road and see some of the park’s best wildlife concentrations. The Shark Valley observation tower offers a 360 degree view of the Everglades. The viewing deck overlooks a life-filled water hole, providing a bird’s eye view of alligators, turtles, fish, and birds.

Gulf Coast (Everglades City)
From the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in the town of Everglades City, take a boat – your own or a scheduled sightseeing boat tour – to explore the vast mangrove estuary of the Ten Thousand Islands.

South Entrances
Along the Main Park Road in Homestead, which connects our south entrances, there are a series of stops with short walks that show the Everglades’ diverse ecosystems.

Royal Palm (Homestead)
Royal Palm is the departure point for two interpretive walks: the Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail. Expect to see plenty of wildlife along the Anhinga Trail, a world famous boardwalk trail bordering Taylor Slough. The Gumbo Limbo Trail is a paved path through a hardwood hammock. On your car ride to Flamingo, there are many trails to explore off the main park road.

Flamingo (38 miles south of the Main Park Entrance in Homestead)
At the end of the park road, Flamingo is the gateway to Florida Bay. The bay and its adjoining maze of mangrove waterways provide homes for thousands of birds and a wealth of fish, crabs, shrimp, and other marine life. Facilities, products, and services at Flamingo include a campground, a marina with boat launching areas, and hiking and canoe trails. Kayak, canoe, and bicycle rentals are available through Everglades Guest Services.

see original article: https://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/placestogo.htm


The plant life in Everglades National Park is truly spectacular 

Located at the confluence of temperate North America and the tropical Caribbean, Everglades National Park is home to representative flora from both climes. The optimal growing conditions that are prevalent throughout south Florida foster a lush growth of plant life that sustains a diverse complex of flora. The Everglades serve as important habitat for a number of endemic and legally protected species. Although nine distinct ecosystems have been identified within Everglades National Park, their boundaries overlap within the dynamic landscape, which is subject to the elements of south Florida.

Another major factor that controls the distribution of vegetation within the Everglades is the hydrologic pattern, which is defined by the depth, timing, and duration of inundation (flooding) as well as the quality and salinity of the source water. The flat topography, temporal distribution of rainfall, and proximity to the coast all interact to determine the hydrologic regime. Surficial geology and overlying soil type also influence the composition and abundance of plant species. Disturbances, both natural (including fire, freezes, hurricanes, etc.) and human-caused (such as altered fire regimes, drainage, development, and introduction of exotic pest plants), also impact vegetation patterns.

The indelible footprint left behind in Everglades history by early colonial settlers, farmers, and developers is visible throughout the landscape. Wetlands were drained to create arable and developable land suited for agriculture and human habitation and growth. With the support of many early conservationists and advocates, Everglades National Park was established in 1947 to conserve the natural landscape and prevent further degradation of a portion of the Greater Everglades. By that date, however, the established assemblage of plants had already been transformed forever. Native plant species were gradually disappearing and being replaced by exotic plants, some of which were formerly cultivated and used for landscaping or in the nursery trade. Other factors, such as climate change, also stress the ecosystem. The resulting ever-adapting assemblage of plants makes up the mosaic of vegetation that we see today.

Native Plants

Despite the challenges of human alterations, abundant endemic plant species remain. From photosynthetic periphyton, which is the tiniest building block of the Everglades food chain, to the largest remaining stand of pine rockland forest in south Florida, each and every plant cell plays an important role in the Everglades ecosystem. The great floral variety of the Everglades is one of the key resources of the park.

Among the more prominent and colorful plants are bromeliads and epiphytic orchids. Thirty-nine native orchid species occur in the park, in addition to about 750 other kinds of native seed-bearing plants. Within the park, a total of 164 plant species have been listed by the State of Florida, including 47 as threatened, 113 as endangered, and 4 as commercially exploited. That is nearly one out of every four (22.5%) of the park’s native plant species! Two native plant species within the park have been federally listed, including one as threatened and one as endangered, and five species are candidates for listing. Although the number changes from time to time as more information is gathered, 66 species that are native to the park are considered to be critically imperiled in south Florida, including grasses, sedges, ferns, orchids, shrubs, trees, and vines. Some of these species are pretty to look at and some of them less so, but each has adapted to a special niche in the watery world of the Everglades.


Marine Plants / Algae



Barking Up a Tree

Problem Plants

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/plants.htm

Animal Life

Home of the man-eating gator and gigantic boas

The winter dry season is the best time for wildlife viewing in the park. Weather conditions are generally pleasant during the winter and standing water levels are low, causing wildlife to congregate at central water locations. Shark Valley, the Anhinga Trail (at Royal Palm), and Eco Pond (one mile past the Flamingo Visitor Center) are good for viewing alligators, wading birds, and other freshwater wildlife. Canoeists can paddle into Snake Bight (near Flamingo) and Chokoloskee Bay (Gulf Coast) before low tide to witness large numbers of water birds feeding in the shallows and on mud flats. A productive freshwater canoeing area is Nine Mile Pond and adjacent borrow pits (11 miles, or 18 km, up the road from Flamingo).

see original article: https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/animals.htm

Hiking Trails

The best hikes in Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is the third largest park in the lower 48 states, covering 2,400 square miles!
There is no shortage of activities for individuals, groups, or families to enjoy outdoors. The diverse habitats allow for enjoyable activities ranging from hiking, canoeing, kayaking, biking, fresh and saltwater fishing, and camping in the ultimate wilderness.

What Activities Can We Do?
See below for suggested activities to participate in during your visit

The best bicycling areas are at Shark Valley, the Snake Bight Trail near Flamingo, and along the Long Pine Key Nature Trail.

Bird Watching
Whether you spot a single great blue heron or an entire flock of roseate spoonbills, birdwatching is one of the most rewarding activities in the Everglades.

Most of the park is only accessible by water making boating a popular way to experience the Everglades. Whether you own a boat, are renting one, or are taking one of the tours that leave from Flamingo and the Gulf Coast, boating brings you closer to the park’s wild wonders.

The Everglades offers both front country camping and backcountry camping. Long Pine Key and Flamingo campgrounds offer drinking water, picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and tent and trailer sites. Showers and electric hookups are available at Flamingo. Primitive campsites and beach sites are available through the watery Everglades backcountry.

Kayaking & Canoeing
Gliding silently in a canoe or kayak gives you a wonderful vantage point on the wildlife and vegetation of the Glades. You might even get an up close view of a ‘gator! The Wilderness Waterway is 99 miles long takes approximately 7-10 days by canoe or kayak, but many well-marked shorter trails exist.

Everglades National Park is a popular spot for saltwater and freshwater sport fishing. Boats can be chartered at Flamingo. Be sure to check a visitor center for park fishing regulations and closed areas.

Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and share their experiences online.

In addition to short interpretative trails, there are some longer hiking trails in the park.

Ranger-Led Programs
One of the best ways to learn more about the park is participate in ranger-led activities. Rangers lead hikes, canoe trips, slough slogs, bicycle trips, tram tours, and campfire programs.

Slough Slogging
If you’re willing to get your feet wet, off-trail hiking, called slogging, will bring you into closer contact with the park’s more elusive species.

In addition to ranger-led activities, there are other ways to enjoy a guided tour through the park. Concession boat captains narrate boat tours along the mangrove coast at both Flamingo and the Gulf Coast, and Tram Tour naturalists guide your explorations of the Shark River Slough. (Note: Concessioner boat tours and canoe rentals from the Everglades National Park Visitor Center and Marina in Everglades City are unavailable until further notice. The National Park Service is working to resume interpretive boat tours from this site later this year. To see other authorized National Park Service commercial operators within the Gulf Coast and Ten Thousand Islands area, visit our Permitted Tour Guides page.)

In addition to short interpretative trails, there are some longer hiking trails in the park, these also include water trails.

Wildlife Viewing
There is no shortage of wildlife in the park! From the mighty alligator to the tiny mosquito fish, Everglades National Park boasts freshwater, brackish, and saltwater wildlife species throughout the park. Be sure to ask a park ranger for recent sightings and bring a camera along with you!

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/placestogo.htm

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