If you think that the expansive Everglades is only for alligators, please think again. Gators are an integral part of the South Florida ecosystem to be sure, but they’re certainly not the only wild thing that makes the Everglades so interesting. Whether you’re in the mood for a short hike on the Anhinga Trail or feel like embarking on a lazy kayak trip along the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway, this remarkable region offers much in the way of wetland adventure.
How to get there
First, you’ll need to decide which part of the 1.5 million-acre park you wish to explore. Three entrances offer access, and each entrance is rather remote from the others. If you’re in the Miami area, you can start exploring the Tamiami Trail at Shark Valley. Want to wander the gulf coast of the Everglades? Experienced boaters may enter the park via watercraft at Everglades City.
If you are the type of ttravellerwho prefers to know all about a wild place prior to exploring, enter the heart of the glades through park headquarters in Homestead, advises the National Park Foundation. Whichever way you choose, you’re sure to find an abundance of adventure waiting for you in the Everglades.
What to do in the Everglades
When you first lay eyes on Everglades National Park, you may find it hard to believe that you are still in the 21st century. Although parts of the oh-so primordial park sit a mere hour away from the noise and glamor of Miami, and only a couple of hours from Marriott Sanibel Resort and Spa, the glades feel a world apart.
Shark Valley Visitor Center offers a first-class vantage point from which you can observe waterfowl and wildlife galore. Climb the center’s 65-foot tall observation tower for a flamingo’s eye view of the wide ‘river of grass’ or hop aboard a guided boat tour at the marina. Shark Valley is also well observed from a comfortable seat on the local tram tour.
Birdwatchers are invited to hike the Big Cypress National Preserve where they can explore pinelands populated with red-cockaded woodpeckers, brown nuthatches, bluebirds, and assorted songbirds. Bike the Tamiami Trail in the early morning to catch a glimpse of barred owls, river otters, wild turkeys, and Florida Panthers.
When to visit the Everglades
Visit during the dry season between December and March, and you will find more rangers and concessions to guide and feed you during your Everglades adventure. Notably, the dry season is also the time of year when you will see the most long-legged wading birds, alligators, manatees, and other denizens of the subtropical nature park, explains National Geographic magazine.
Designated as a Wetland of National Importance as well as a World Heritage Site, the Everglades provides one of the most fascinating and diverse habitats on Earth. View the trail under your own steam, or allow a friendly naturalist guide to show you are the breathtaking scenery of the glades.