Everglades National Park - North Entrance

Description

Brown pelicans and Florida panthers are but two of the many species of birds, animals, and plants, some endangered, that live in Florida's Everglades. Water is the key ingredient in Everglades National Park. It nourishes six distinct ecosystems, which provide habitats for the varied flora and fauna. Flowing through the park is the slowly creeping "River of Grass," a huge waterway 50 miles wide but only one to three feet deep. Saw-grass prairie disguises this fresh water slough, home to an entire interdependent chain of creatures, from algae to fish to great white herons. A prime wildlife watching destination, the Everglades themselves are in serious danger because water has been diverted to supply city, farm, and flood control demands in south Florida. Without the proper amount of water at the right times, several species lose nests and feeding grounds. Located only 18 miles from suburban Miami, the park competes for water with people and agriculture. Ecosystem preservation has become an overriding concern. More canoe trails than hiking trails attest to water's influence in Everglades National Park, comprising1.5 million acres. Visitors may enjoy a close-up view of subtropical species as they glide almost effortlessly through swamp grasses and hardwood hammocks. Ibises and herons probe the shallow waters for fish as American alligators silently lurk partly submerged beneath the surface. Calusa shell mounds recall the Native Americans who once made their homes side by side with flocks of egrets and shy marsh rabbits. Because of its extremely rich yet fragile biodiversity, Everglades National Park, the third-largest national park in the contiguous U.S., has been named an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site as a wetland of international significance. What to see and do: The Everglades are vast, and you could easily spend two or three days exploring their possibilities. At the Shark Valley visitor center and tram, you'll get a good introduction to the park wilderness. You may either rent a bike or reserve a spot on the two-hour Loop Road tour. From the observation tower, you'll look out over the Shark River Slough. On two short nature trails, you'll get a closer look at typical slough plants and maybe even small animals such as raccoons and otters. Another popular day activity is driving the 38 miles between the main visitor center and the Flamingo Visitor Center. When you begin at the main center, located on the eastern side of the park, be sure to participate in the many ranger programs that are held during the winter season and designed to acquaint you with the six ecosystems through which you'll be touring. Don't miss the Anhinga nature trail at the Royal Palm visitor center. A combination of pavement and boardwalk allows you to see alligators, turtles, and fish and experience perhaps the best bird watching in Florida. While on the road, stop at the overlooks and other nature trails. Each takes you through environments such as pinelands, fresh water marl prairie, and cypress swamp. Long Pine Key picnic sites give you the chance to stop for a lunch break. Flamingo, located deep within Everglades National Park, bustles with activity. Several of the park's longer hiking trails begin here. You can spend a few hours on short trails or pack your gear for a backcountry overnight on trails ranging from two to 100 miles. If you like, postpone your drive out of the park by a night and stay at the campground. At the marina, boat tours are available, and a launch allows you to bring your own watercraft. Flamingo is one end of the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway, a well-marked path through myriad small islands, expanses of grasses, and saltwater estuaries. Numerous backcountry campsites line the route; a full trip could take days. At the other end of the Wilderness Waterway, in the northwest corner of the park, you'll find the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. Sign up for a boat tour of the Ten Thousands Islands, home to osprey, b

Address

40001 SR 9336
Homestead, FL 33034

Lat/Long

25.76151100, -80.67420100
Visit Website
(305) 242-7700

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