Everglades National Park
At least one million people from all over the world visit the Everglades each year. There are three main entry points: the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, which is closest to Naples and south of Everglades city; the Shark Valley area that can be accessed by US 41 (also known as the Tamiami Trail); and the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, the park’s main headquarters. There are numerous Everglades tours available at the park. Whether you choose to explore the park by boat, bicycle or on foot, the peak season for organized park tours runs from the middle of December through Easter. Everglades weather conditions can impact availability of certain activities, so check to see if a particular tour is currently running before making the trip. For example, canoe trips aren’t offered during the summer because of the sweltering heat. When traveling or camping in the park, bring an Everglades map and ask Everglades park rangers for safety tips.
There are Everglades camping sites available for RV’s and tents. The popular Long Pine Key Campground is located about seven miles from the park’s main entrance and comes equipped with restrooms, water, and septic dump station. The Florida Everglades are home to a diverse array of wildlife within the park’s five different habitats: the Hammock, Mangrove, Pineland, Sawgrass, and Slough. One animal reigns king in the Everglades—the ubiquitous Florida alligator. Dangerous and elusive, the gator holds mystery in their very existence. But of course, they aren’t the only animal who calls the swamps of Florida their home. The Everglades are also home to manatees, white-tailed deer, bobcat, and scores of endangered animals, like the American crocodile and the Florida Panther. This bustling ecosystem is a special opportunity to view wildlife, but from a distance. Remember, all of these animals are protected by law and visitors are asked to maintain a safe distance from all wildlife in the park.