Everglades National Park, Florida
Anyone who has seen them knows that the Everglades represent an unforgettable natural treasure that has little competition internationally. Here man is a guest in a sensitive balance of extraordinary flora and fauna. You become a passionate voyeur: when you look at the most diverse colorful – sometimes shrill, sometimes melodiously chirping – rare bird species; the cautious respectful approach to the alligators and crocodiles gliding through the water. You can feel the untamed power of nature through water and plants on hikes through the swamp or boat trips through the vast network of waterways and mangroves. The air is warm, humid, the sky is a steely blue, and the surroundings are lush and rich in a variety of shades of green and brown. No noise of civilization in the ear, only one’s own breath.
As the only subtropical nature reserve in North America, the Everglades National Park was founded in 1947 by US President Harry S. Truman and was declared a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 as an international biosphere reserve. The Indians called the huge wetland “Pa-hay-okee”, “river of grass”. In fact, the Everglades is not a swamp, but a sluggishly flowing river whose flow is barely noticeable to the naked eye.
According to campingship.com, the Everglades is a wetland of gigantic proportions that is flooded during the summer months and dries up in the winter. The waters of the Everglades are slowly moving south toward the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay. The ecosystem of the Everglades consists of different habitats.
Everglades National Park information
Location and Size
The Everglades extend over 6,000 km² and stretch from Lake Okeechobee in the north to the extreme southern tip of the Florida Peninsula. About half of the area is now the national park and the adjacent nature reserve. The highest natural point in the national park is only 2.4 meters above sea level.
How to get there
Everglades National Park can be visited all year round. The western part of Everglades National Park can be reached in less than 1.5 hours by car from Ft. myers In addition to Air Berlin, all well-known major American airlines serve Fort Myers from Europe, albeit with different connecting flights. Another option is to travel via Miami. It takes about 60 minutes by car from the airport to the eastern part of the national park.
Driving to Everglades City
The Gulf Coast Visitor Center (815 Oyster Bar Lane. Everglades City, Florida 34139) is located 5 miles south of Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail) on State Road 29 in Everglades City. From Interstate 75 (Alligator Alley) take Exit 80 South (State Road 29) and drive 20 miles to Everglades City. Here you follow the signs to the parking lot. The visitor center is on the right.
$30 for private non-commercial vehicles, $25 for escorted motorcycles, $15 for pedestrians and cyclists. Children under 16 are free. Admission is valid for 7 days.
However, many tours and activities can also be done outside of the official national park. From the western part of the Everglades, Everglades City is the best starting point to discover the Everglades.
America the Beautiful Annual Pass
The annual pass costs $80 and entitles you to visit over 2,000 US federal recreation areas and national parks for one year from the date of purchase. The entrance fee applies to the driver and all passengers of a private, non-commercial vehicle (or up to a maximum of 4 adults in total if per-person entrance fees are charged). Children under 16 are free. If you visit more than 4 national parks, it is usually worth buying the America the Beautiful Annual Pass. The pass can be purchased at many stores across the US and is also available in advance from various tour operators.
There are several entrances to the park: Main Park Road (from the Ernest Coe Visitor Center to Flamingo), Shark Valley, Gulf Coast (Everglades City) and Chekika.
Centers The Gulf Coast Visitor Center Visitor Center south of Everglades City is open daily as follows: Mid-April – mid-November: 9am – 4:30pm Mid-November – mid-April: 8am – 4:30pm
Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center
Located on Main Park Road just before the park’s main entrance. Open daily, December-April 8am-5pm, May-November 9am-5pm. Information, and exhibitions, educational articles are for sale.
Royal Palm Visitor Center
4 miles after Ernest Coe Visitor Centre. Royal Palm Visitor Center: Open daily.
Flamingo Visitor Center
61km after Ernest Coe Visitor Centre. Flamingo Visitor Center: exhibits, information and wilderness permits. Staffed daily from December to March and intermittently the other months of the year. Chartered Services: The Flamingo Marina has a small shop, gas station, offers boat tours and rents out houseboats, canoes, kayaks and bicycles. Visit www.evergladesnationalparkboattoursflamingo.com for more information and reservations .
Shark Valley Visitor Center
On Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail), 30 miles west of the Florida Turnpike. Shark Valley Visitor Center: Open daily, hours vary by season. Information, educational articles are for sale.
Chekika Visitor Center
Located off State Road 997 (Krome Avenue) approximately 15 miles south of US 41. Open during the day only mid-December through March.
There are campsites in Long Pine Key and Flamingo (use for a fee). Places will be allocated to those interested based on arrival and availability. Camping in summer can be very uncomfortable due to the intense heat, rain and insects (mosquitoes and gnats). Wild camping: most places in the park wilderness are only accessible by boat or canoe. A wilderness permit is required for overnight camping; these can be purchased in person at the Gulf Coast and Flamingo Visitor Centers. Fees are charged during the months of November through April. For more information, visit the park’s website or ask at a visitor center for the Wilderness Trip Planner, which has important details.
Most visitors come to the park during the cooler, drier winter months between November and April, with some also opting for the warm, humid summer season. If visiting the Everglades in the summer, be prepared for thunderstorms and lots of biting insects. An insect repellent is therefore highly recommended. Also, because of the higher water level at this time of year, the animals are more scattered and less easy to spot.
Due to the marshy landscape, it is constantly very humid, which means that there is a very distinctive flora and fauna. From December to April the climate is quite pleasant and mild with mostly clear skies. Temperatures reach around 25°C during the day and around 15°C at night. High temperatures and high humidity can always be expected from May to November. During the day the temperatures rise up to 32°C.
|Average temperatures in Everglades National Park in °C|
Out and about in Everglades Park
The flora and fauna of the park is spectacular. Alligators live here alongside the endangered American crocodiles; Panthers, deer, raccoons, snakes, manatees, spiders, turtles and flamingos share territory with over 350 bird species including ibises, pelicans, cormorants, roseate spoonbills, blue herons and storks. Characteristic plants are bizarre bald cypresses, prairies of sea grass, ferns, lianas, orchids and bromeliads. Here and there you will find so-called hammocks– Hardwood tree islands with palms, mahogany, oaks and magnolias; and next to it again and again the impenetrable undergrowth. There are various ways to explore the national park: canoes and kayaks guarantee close proximity to the various residents. The canoe trails vary in length from one hour to multi-day excursions. The tours can be organized with a ranger or individually. In the outskirts of the national park there are various providers where you can book tours with the rapid propeller boats (airboats) or powerful swamp buggies through the seagrass fields, swamps and dry forests.
The Main Park Road: A 61km scenic drive from the Ernest Coe Visitor Center to Flamingo.
In the south of this region lies the idyllic small town of Everglades City, the “gateway to Everglades National Park”. In fact, this town surrounded by lush greenery is an excellent starting point for excursions into the park. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is the west entrance to the park and is located in Everglades City. Admission is free and a multimedia exhibition presents an introduction to the natural world of experience. Various tours to the mangrove forests of the Ten Thousand Islands and the Everglades National Park can also be booked here at the same time.
Located directly on the Chokoloskee Bay of the Gulf of Mexico, Everglades City gives the impression that time has stood still for a while between the historic buildings, the trees draped with bearded bromeliads through which the sun’s rays break, and the colonial facades is. This is what makes this loving character of Southwest Florida charm particularly tangible here. A manageable number of picturesque accommodations await visitors who want to soak up that tropical tranquility of the South.
Everglades City is famous for another reason: It is the world capital of stone crab, the national dish of Florida and a gourmet delicacy. Nowhere else in the world are so many stone crabs caught and processed as here.
Ranger-Led Activities: These free programs, which include guided tours, lectures, canoe trips, and other activities, are offered throughout the park. Information on dates and times can be found on the park’s website or in the visitor center.
At low tide, birds congregate on the mudflats of Florida Bay and are visible from the Flamingo Visitor Center. American crocodiles (which differ from alligators) and manatees may be seen at Flamingo Marina. The local ponds are good for observing birds and other animals in the wild.
Canoeing, Kayaking, Hiking
Information on local canoeing routes and hiking trails and corresponding maps are available at the Flamingo Visitor Centre. Suggested paddling routes include the Nine Mile Pond Trail (a 5.5-mile loop) and tours of Florida Bay.
Tours Narrated boat tours of Florida Bay and the mangrove sanctuary depart from Flamingo Marina. Departure times vary depending on the season.
Experience the variety of habitats in the Everglades along several short, handicap-accessible trails starting from the parking lots along Main Park Road.
Pinelands Trail: A 600m loop trail through a subtropical pine forest. This is the most botanically diverse habitat in South Florida.
Pa-hay-okee Overlook: A 1,000-foot walk leads to an observation deck that overlooks the Everglades’ vast freshwater marl plains.
Mahogany Hammock Trail: A 600m walk through a jungle-like thicket of tropical timber.
West Lake: A 600m walk through a mangrove forest dominated by strange trees growing in the salt water.
Anhinga Trail: An absolute must! This 1.3 km loop provides one of the best opportunities to see wildlife up close, including alligators and birds.
Gumbo Limbo Trail: A 0.6 km loop trail. This trail winds through a dense, tropical jungle.
Bobcat Boardwalk and Otter Cave are two short, easy walks that start near the Shark Valley Visitor Center. The 15-mile Tram Road can be hiked or cycled; it is ideal for sightings of birds, alligators and other animals in the wild. Bike rentals are located near the visitor center.
Everglades National Park information in German The German-language PDF information sheet from the American National Park Service provides information that will help you better plan a visit to Everglades National Park. Further information can also be found on the official website of the National Park Service at www.nps.gov/ever (plan your visit).