Is Everglades National Park Worth Seeing? I am sure if you are planning a vacation to South Florida especially Naples or the Florida Keys, you are bound to have this question. Especially if you aren’t an outdoor enthusiast and if you think it is only about spotting giant American alligators.
If you think so, then you are definitely in for a ride, because there’s much more to the Everglades than just spotting alligators and birds in the swamp.
The Everglades National Park is definitely worth seeing because it’s a natural wonder unlike any other. The Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness in the US that is home to diverse animal and plant species, some of which are found only in Florida. Apart from the wildlife, it is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy hiking, canoeing, and kayaking through mangroves.
Here are a few things that you can enjoy and that make the Park worth visiting on your trip to South Florida.
Is Everglades National Park Worth Seeing?
Table of Contents
- Shark Valley Road
- Sawgrass Recreation Park
- Big Cypress National Preserve
- Ranger Guided Canoe Tours
- Enjoy Birdwatching
- Chokoloskee Bay
- The Flamingo Visitor Center
- Ten Thousand Islands
- Long Pine Key
- How to get to the Everglades National Park?
- What to bring when visiting the Everglades?
- When to go to the Everglades National park?
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Shark Valley Road
One of the best and most convenient ways to explore the Everglades is to take a ride along the most popular road in the park for wildlife spotting, the Shark Valley Road.
The 15-mile road beautifully wounds through the heart of the park offering breathtaking views of the sawgrass prairies and wildlife.
The Shark Valley Road is the best place to spot alligators, turtles, and wading birds going about their day-to-day business in their natural habitat.
The information kiosks along the road do a wonderful job of educating the visitors about the unique history, geology, and ecology of this amazing wetland.
The road also features 7.5 miles of bike trail for outdoor enthusiasts from the visitor center that leads up to the observation deck that offers a unique perspective of the ecosystem.
A 2-hour tram ride, which begins from the visitor center takes you through the heart of the wetlands with the expert guide pointing out significant spots along the way. The tram ride is the easiest way to access the observation deck if you don’t want to bike or walk.
Tickets to the tram ride cost 27$ for adults and $14 dollars for children aged 3 to 12 years old. Make sure to book your tickets in advance as the rides run only at specific times of the day and tickets sell out quite early in the morning.
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Sawgrass Recreation Park
The Sawgrass Recreation Park is one of the main highlights of the Everglades and is a must-see attraction on your visit to the park.
The Sawgrass Recreation Park is an especially popular place to spot not just alligators but also eagles and herons from up close.
One of the best ways to explore the park is to take a ranger-led tour of the park, where you can get learn about the park’s ecosystem through an expert and also enjoy activities like kayaking or canoeing.
Another great way how most people love to explore the Everglades is by taking an airboat tour of the park.
An airboat takes you right in the middle of the action where you can spot an alligator lurking in the shadows, turtles basking in the sun, and wading birds stalking their prey.
Big Cypress National Preserve
The Big Cypress National Preserve is one of the most unique parts of the Everglades National Park which spans a whopping 729,000 acres of area.
The preserve is known for its rich bio-diversity and has a variety of tropical and temperate plant species and is home to diverse wildlife species including the highly endangered Florida Panther.
Exploring the park is a kind of adventure in itself as the park has no roads or bike trails.
The only way to explore the park is to walk, canoe, or kayak through a network of mangroves and swamps which adds a sense of thrill and a more immersive experience to your exploration which you won’t find elsewhere.
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Ranger Guided Canoe Tours
What better way to explore the vast beauty of the Everglades and its diverse ecosystem than to take a ranger-guided canoe tour, where you get to learn about the park right from an expert?
Paddle through some of the most beautiful scenery that you’ll ever witness in your life, with a knowledgeable ranger that provides you with important insights and facts as you paddle along the waters.
The guided tours are worth it if you really want to learn about the park on two accounts.
First, the rangers take you to some of the best and most beautiful spots in the park that you would have never come across. These are some of the best spots in the park where you can spot alligators sunning on a log, birds looking for prey in the water, or rare plant species native only to the Everglades.
Second, the rangers do an incredible job of educating you about some of the diverse wildlife and plant species by providing you with some rare insights that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
At this point, it should come as no surprise to why we recommend the Everglades if you are a birdwatching enthusiast.
The best time to enjoy birdwatching in the Everglades is early in the morning, before the harsh Florida heat sets in.
One of the best and most popular spots to enjoy birdwatching is the Anhinga Trail which begins at the Royal Palm Visitor Center.
The Anhinga Trail is the best place to spot a variety of birds including herons, ibises, short-tailed hawks, swallow-tailed kites, and above all the anhingas from which the park gets its name.
The trail also features a boardwalk to the Gumbo Limbo Trail where you can often see woodpeckers and songbirds like warblers, vireos, and flycatchers.
And finally, the best way to end your trip is by heading over to the Mahogany Hammock Trail, where you have a good chance of spotting ospreys and eagles.
The Everglades National Park is one of the most unique and ecologically diverse parks in the world and the Chokoloskee Bay is the best example of its vastness and sheer beauty.
If you love fishing and kayaking then Chokoloskee Bay is the perfect place to do so.
Chokoloskee Bay is teeming with wildlife. With clear water and a dense network of mangroves surrounding the Bay, the waters are crystal clear and abundant with fish and other marine life.
Apart from fishing, the Bay is also a great spot to enjoy stunning sunsets and birdwatching and if you are lucky, you might also get a chance to spot manatees swimming closer to your kayak.
The Flamingo Visitor Center
The Flamingo Visitor Center lies at the southernmost tip of the continental US and is one of the most popular visitor centers of the Everglades.
This amazing park is the perfect place for first-time visitors to get acquainted with the wildlife and rich ecosystem of the park.
There are several ranger-led programs that you can take to learn extensively about the various plant and animal species and you explore one spot to another.
If you don’t want to walk or bike, then you can also take a boat tour that takes you through some of the best spots in the park or you can also enjoy hiking along one of the many scenic trails that wind through the park.
Ten Thousand Islands
The first thing you notice when you approach the Ten Thousand Islands is the silence. There are no roads, no cars, no sounds of civilization.
Just the quiet lap of waves against the hull of your boat and the call of a distant bird. As you paddle deeper into the maze of mangrove islands, you start to feel like you’ve left the modern world behind.
The area is so expansive like an endless sea that it’s easy to get lost here, but again that is what makes it appealing in the first place. The islands are home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, including manatees, dolphins, alligators, and countless species of birds.
Paddling through the shallow waters, it’s not uncommon to see these creatures up close.
But even if you don’t spot any animals, there’s still plenty to see. The islands are covered in a lush tapestry of vegetation, and the clear waters offer excellent opportunities for fishing and snorkeling.
Long Pine Key
Long Pine Key is one of the most popular destinations within the Everglades National Park. Located just a short drive from the main entrance, this scenic spot offers visitors a chance to see an array of Florida wildlife up close.
If you love or want to experience camping in the wilderness then the Long Pine Key is the place to do so.
Some of the wildlife that you can spot here includes alligators, turtles, and wading birds and you can also learn about some rare plant species that are native only to the Everglades.
Long Pine also stands as a historically important site and is home to a number of historical buildings including an old ranger site that was built in the 1930s.
How to get to the Everglades National Park?
The easiest way to get to the Everglades National park is by car.
Take US-41 south for about 40 miles from Miami. The park is directly accessible via US-41. Take I-75 south to exit 25A if coming from Orlando. Follow the Shark Valley Tram Tours signs from there.
Allow yourself at least 2 hours for the tour. The park is open all year long, but December through April are the ideal months to come.
What to bring when visiting the Everglades?
When planning your trip, keep in mind that the Everglades can be extremely hot and humid. You’ll need insect repellent first and foremost and carry plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. The Everglades mosquitoes can be relentless, and you don’t want to spend your vacation covered in bites.
Make sure you wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to tackle the bugs along the way. And it goes without saying that you need sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the harsh sun.
The humidity in the park can be merciless, so it’s also a good idea to pack light, loose-fitting clothing. And finally, don’t forget your camera! The Everglades is home to an amazing array of wildlife, and you’ll want to capture some memories of your time in this unique environment.
When to go to the Everglades National park?
The best time to visit the Everglades National Park is without a doubt during the winter months. Even though it’s cooler outside, this is also the least crowded time of year to visit the park.
Wintertime is the best time for birdwatching and wildlife photography because wildlife is more active. Consider visiting the Everglades National Park in the winter if you want to have a special and memorable experience.