Are you planning to visit the Everglades? The Everglades National Park in South Florida is a unique destination that is absolutely worth the visit and travel — you’ll come away with new perspectives. There are plenty of activities to engage in that will keep you busy throughout your stay, too. Here’s a quick guide to visiting this standout national park.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Everglades?
The Everglades is a beautiful destination for you to visit throughout the year. However, many tourists opt to visit the Everglades during the dry season, since it is easier for visitors to take advantage of everything the park has to offer during this period. The dry season starts in December and ends in April. The temperatures are quite favorable as is the low humidity — even for Florida. It’s called the “dry season” due to the lack of rain.
Moreover, during the dry season, you are less likely to get any insect bites. The warm climate provides an unwelcoming environment for bugs, preventing them from thriving.
The diversity of wildlife in Everglades is simply breathtaking and a remarkable sight. And the dry season is the best time for you to go and check them out! Birds, for example, flock to the water reserves during this time of the year, migrating from northern regions. With park operations in full flow, you also get to take part in guided activities ranging from group canoe rides to ranger talks.
Things to Do While at Everglades
While at the Everglades National Park, you may want to check out the available airboat rides. Only three companies provide this service at the Park: Gator Park, Everglades Safari, and Coopertown. They are located between Miami and Shark Valley. The lack of choices is due to the fact that they are actually banned from most of the area. The current ones work with the National Park Service. Airboating is an experience like no other, guaranteed to create a lasting impression, and is an excellent way to get around the Everglades.
Be sure to bring your binoculars with you while visiting the Everglades. The National Park is considered one of the best birdwatching sites in the country. This is because it is home to over 300 species, not to mention the ones that pass through the area while migrating.
The Homestead entrance and Flamingo districts of the Park are some of the best spots where you could enjoy this activity. Eco Pond, Nine Mile Pond, Anhinga Trail, and Mrazek Pond also pose excellent birdwatching locations. Paurotis Pond is the most preferred site by tourists, thanks to the close up sights of Roseate Spoonbills and Wood Storks.
Some other activities you can take part in in the Everglades include
- Camping. Camping in the Everglades can be a great experience, just be sure you have bug spray if going in spring or summer. There are two main frontcountry sites, as well as backcountry opportunity. Pitch a tent and enjoy nature’s orchestra!
- Kayaking or Canoeing. Kayaking and canoeing are abundant in the Everglades. You can rent gear or bring your own. It can be one of the best ways to get close to nature.
- Fishing. Because the Everglades have both fresh and salt waters, you can catch a crazy variety of fish here. Everything from Sea Trout to Snapper to Bass to Bluegill. Bring your tackle box and see what you pull in.
- Hiking. Lots of hiking, but pretty flat. More than anything, be ready for some wet feet. Consider waterproof hiking boots.
- Cycling. There are trails where you can ride, but it is probably not our #1 cycling area.
- Guided tours
- Slough slogging
- Wildlife views
What is Unique About Everglades?
Want to learn more about the Everglades National Park? Check out these quick facts:
- In 1947, the Everglades National Park was founded to preserve the South Florida wetland’s biological resources and diversity.
- The Everglades National Park is the only place on earth where the American alligator and crocodile are found in the same location. The preferred habitat for crocodiles is the sandy coastal areas, while alligators thrive inland.
- The Florida Panther can be found in the Everglades National Park. Extremely endangered, there are less than 100 remaining.
- It’s not actually a swamp! It’s a slow moving (but giant) river.
- Everglades is the third-largest National Park.
- It is home to the largest wetlands worldwide. Some of the habitats include marine waters, pine Rocklands, and coastal lowlands.
- A large amount of people in Florida depend on the Everglades for their daily supply of water.
Where to Stay While in Everglades
There are plenty of places to stay while in the Everglades. The ideal location depends on what your interests are and what you intend to do while in Everglades.
Everglades – East Side
The east side of the Everglades allows you to explore the urban lifestyle of the area surrounding the parks. It’s great if you want to visit nature in the daytime and clubs in the evening. Also, two of the Park’s entrances are located in the eastern part of the Everglades, making it super easy to start your travels from this side.
Everglades – West Side
Staying in west Everglades comes with many benefits. It provides the fastest access to the Park and happens to be the home of the Gulf Coast Visitor Center.
Camping in Everglades is a great idea. It allows you to soak in the beauty of the Park fully. The advantage of camping in Everglades is the location of the campsites; some of them are located inside the Park. These sites are quite accommodating; you will have access to tents, RVs, and bathrooms while staying here. Some also have gift shops and marinas.
If you are the type to wing it, then backcountry camping is for you. It is one of the most raw types of camping you can do. However, it is important to note that you cannot just set up camp anywhere. There are rules in place governing this camping in the park. There are 47 spots designated to serve this specific purpose in Everglades, none of which are accessible by car. You have to either hike or use a boat to get there. The sites are located in forested areas, while others are along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico or directly on the beach.
However, to take part in backcountry camping, you must first pay for a permit. It is important to note that you can only apply for your permit on the first day of your trip. A bit of experience in camping is required for you to qualify for backcountry camping. You will also want to have good camping gear along with some all-purpose hiking boots, since you will probably encounter a little bit of everything.
What You Need to Watch Out for While at Everglades
Alligators and Crocodiles
Most people visiting the Everglades come to see crocodiles in the Park. Due to the potential danger that they pose to humans, visitors are advised to always maintain a distance of at least 15 feet from the crocodiles. It is worth noting that if the animal hisses at you, you are probably too close to it.
The level of activity for alligators and crocodiles is at an all-time high during the night. Therefore, it is important to limit your movements at night, especially if you are camping inside the Park. It is considered a criminal offense to feed or harass an animal and you could be fined.
Snakes and Bugs
It isn’t just the big, scary-looking reptiles you have to watch out for. Smaller creates, such as poisonous snakes, ticks and mosquitoes (and other bugs) are actually more dangerous animals than the big, intimidating ones.
Be sure to wear solid footwear, and preferably long denim-like pants, in any area where the odds of seeing a snake are higher. You can always avoid them, but it is better to be safe than sorry. As for bugs, this is no time to be on a mission against man-made chemicals. Use the bug spray regularly.
The Park provides favorable conditions for the growth of poisonous plants. Therefore, you should ensure that you stay away from most of these plants. Interaction with poisonous plants often results in skin irritation.
Poison ivy is one of the poisonous plants that you will find in Everglades. It thrives in the sunny patches of forested areas. On the other hand, poisonwood grows in the form of a tree or shrub. It can be located in hardwood hammocks or pine Rocklands. You are likely to develop a skin rash when you get in contact with these plants. Avoid these plants during your visit to the Everglades. Before your visit, become familiar what they look like and what first aid you will need if you accidentally come into contact.
If you are looking for a great vacation destination, then Everglades is a great bet. The location allows you to see amazing wildlife and connect with nature.And it’s even great for the family; there are plenty of activities for the kids to engage in throughout their visit, from boat tours to hiking.
A Unique Experience
So if you are going to have to put up with humid conditions, some swampy trails, and bugs and animals, why go to the Everglades? It is a truly unique experience to be around the swamp ecosystem. You are going to see birds, reptiles and vegetation that you just won’t see anywhere else. Just like a desert, mountain, or Northwoods forest has its own special vibe, so too does the Everglades. It is absolutely worth a visit.