Top 10 Best things to do in Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park spans 1.5 million acres that stretches over the southern part of Florida, but it easy to access the park’s via Miami, Everglades City, or through Homestead.
Visiting the Everglades allows you to explore a vast diversity of flora and fauna in different eco-systems: freshwater sloughs, marl prairies, tropical hammocks, pinelands, cypress, mangrove, coastal lowlands, marine, and estuarine.
As I live in South Florida I visit the park multiple times throughout the year and here are my favorite top ten things to do:
This self-guiding trail winds through a sawgrass marsh, where you may see alligators, turtles, anhingas, herons, egrets, and many other birds, especially during the winter. This is one the most popular trails in the park because of its abundance of wildlife.
Gumbo Limbo Trail
This self-guiding, paved trail meanders through a shaded, jungle-like hammock of gumbo limbo trees (Bursera simaruba), royal palms (Roystonea elata), ferns, and air plants.
West Lake Trail
This self-guided boardwalk trail wanders through a forest of white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), black mangrove (Avicennia nitida), red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), and buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) trees to the edge of West Lake.
A raised observation platform on this boardwalk loop provides sweeping vistas of the “river of grass.”
This flat, paved road is used for tram rides, bicycling, and walking. Along the road you may see alligators, herons, egrets, deer, turtles, and snail kites. An observation tower at the halfway point provides panoramic views. Below the Observation Tower is a short trail through a tropical hardwood hammock. Bicycles can be rented from the Shark Valley Tram Tour Company.
at the end of the park road lies Flamingo which has a few amenities and a marina. Here you can rent a kayak, canoe or a boat and a bike as well as launch a boat to go fishing in Florida Bay. Additionally there are nearby hiking trails as well as great views of the bay. Wildlife abound.
Canoeing / kayaking
Canoe and kayak trips range from a few hours to several days depending on length and complexity of the trail. You can bring your own canoe or kayak and launch from several locations around the park or rent a kayak or canoe in the park.
Everglades National Park is a briders paradise with more than 300 species of birds passing through on their migratory paths, More info on birdwatching here.
Nike Missle Site
Everglades National Park houses one of the best preserved relics of the Cold War in Florida, a historic Nike Hercules missile site called “Alpha Battery” or “HM69”. completed in 1965, just after the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. the nation’s air defenses were positioned to protect against a possible Soviet air attack from Cuba. See more info here.
The fishing inside Everglades National Park is world class with many species of both fresh and saltwater available. One third of Everglades National Park is covered by saltwater, the rest is a freshwater wetland. Both offer ample opportunity for fishing from shore, boat kayak or canoe. See park’s rules for regulations.