10 Can’t-Miss Experiences at Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park may not be the first national park that comes to mind when you think of Florida—not unless you’re thinking of alligators, but who isn’t? This park is an essential addition to any list of the best national parks in the U.S., and here are 10 reasons why
1) Visit Anhinga Trail
The Anhinga Trail at Everglades National Park is one of the most popular spots in the park and offers an unforgettable experience. From incredible wildlife viewing opportunities to unique ecological features, this trail is not to be missed.
As soon as you enter the Anhinga Trail, you will be surrounded by abundant wildlife. The trail meanders around a marsh area that is home to a variety of species, including alligators, turtles, wading birds, and ospreys. This is an excellent spot for birdwatchers, as the trail provides an up-close view of many different species. Keep an eye out for majestic great blue herons and other aquatic birds, as well as alligators basking in the sun.
In addition to wildlife viewing, the Anhinga Trail also offers stunning scenery and a glimpse into the unique ecology of the Everglades. There are boardwalks and observation platforms that allow visitors to get a closer look at the unique vegetation and ecological systems of the area. The trail also features an interpretive center that explains the natural history and ecology of the park.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or just looking for a unique experience, Anhinga Trail at Everglades National Park is a must-see destination. With its abundance of wildlife and fascinating ecology, you will be sure to have an unforgettable time exploring this natural wonder.
2) Go on an Airboat Tour
One of the most popular and exciting activities to do at Everglades National Park is to take an airboat tour. Airboats offer a unique way to experience the park, zipping around the marshy grasslands, the sawgrass prairies, and mangrove forests in a thrilling adventure that takes you up close and personal with the flora and fauna of the area.
On an airboat tour, you’ll learn about the diverse ecosystem of the park and have the chance to spot some of the incredible wildlife. From majestic birds of prey like bald eagles and ospreys to alligators and turtles, an airboat tour will give you plenty of opportunities to get an up-close look at some of the park’s amazing creatures. Plus, depending on your tour company, you may also be able to take part in a little fishing or even spot some manatees!
If you want to experience the beauty of the Everglades in a unique and thrilling way, then an airboat tour is definitely one of the must-do activities. With so much to see and do, you’re sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.
3) See the Alligators at Shark Valley
When visiting Everglades National Park, one experience that you won’t want to miss is a trip to Shark Valley. The 15-mile loop drive in Shark Valley offers breathtaking views of the vast expanse of the Everglades, as well as the opportunity to see alligators up close and personal. The trail meanders through sawgrass prairies, marshes, and pinelands, and is full of interesting plants and wildlife, including wading birds and turtles.
Along the way, you’ll find several observation towers which provide a great view of the area. These towers also make excellent spots for watching the alligators basking in the sun. Be sure to keep your distance and use common sense – these creatures can be dangerous if approached too closely!
At the end of the drive, you’ll find the Shark Valley Visitor Center, which offers educational displays about the park’s environment and history, as well as an airboat ride for a unique way to explore the Everglades. Make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and enjoy your visit to Shark Valley!
4) Take a Hike
If you’re looking for a unique way to explore the natural beauty of Everglades National Park, take a hike. The diverse terrain of the park offers an array of exciting trails and boardwalks, with many offering views of stunning wildlife and vegetation.
One of the best places to start is the Anhinga Trail. Located in the heart of the park, this easy 0.8-mile trail will take you past a series of ponds and wetland habitats that are home to some of the park’s most famous animals, like alligators, turtles, and the namesake Anhinga bird.
If you’re up for a longer trek, the Long Pine Key Nature Trail is a great option. This 5.5-mile loop takes hikers through pine forests, wetlands, and open prairies, giving you an excellent opportunity to see a variety of Florida wildlife in its natural habitat.
Finally, don’t miss the chance to take the Gumbo Limbo Trail. This short half-mile walk takes visitors through a tropical hardwood hammock, and is a great place to see interesting plants, butterflies, and other critters.
No matter which trail you choose, make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks, wear appropriate hiking shoes and clothing, and be aware of your surroundings as you explore Everglades National Park on foot.
5) Camp in the Park
Spending a night camping in the Everglades National Park is an experience that no nature-lover should miss. The park has a variety of campgrounds to choose from, ranging from primitive sites to more developed ones with amenities like fire pits and picnic tables. Many of the campsites have spectacular views of the park’s diverse ecosystems, making for a truly unforgettable camping experience.
If you’re looking for a more immersive experience, consider taking a backcountry camping trip. The backcountry allows you to explore some of the less-visited parts of the park and even offers visitors the chance to camp on small islands in the middle of the river or sea. Camping out in the backcountry is a great way to really take in the beauty of the Everglades and all that it has to offer.
No matter which type of camping you choose, make sure to bring insect repellent and sunscreen, as the mosquitos and sun can be quite intense in the summer months. Most importantly, don’t forget your camera – there are plenty of stunning photos waiting to be taken in this incredible park!
6) Take a Tram Tour
A great way to experience the vastness of the Everglades National Park is to take a tram tour. A tram tour will allow you to get an up-close and personal look at all the amazing wildlife that the park has to offer. You’ll be able to observe the native birds and animals in their natural environment. The tour guides are knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, and they can provide interesting information about the park and its inhabitants. Tram tours are available year-round, so you can go any time of year to explore the area. Be sure to bring your camera so you can capture some incredible photos along the way!
7) Attend a Ranger Program
Attending a ranger program is a great way to get the most out of your visit to Everglades National Park. From informative lectures to guided hikes, there’s something for everyone at these educational events. Whether you’re looking to learn more about the park’s natural environment or just want to meet other visitors, ranger programs provide an ideal opportunity to do both.
The park offers a wide variety of ranger-led programs, such as nature walks, bird watching excursions, and talks on conservation efforts. Many of the ranger-led programs are free or offered at a nominal cost. These programs can be a great way to explore the Everglades, as well as learn about its history and ecology.
Another great option is the Junior Ranger Program, designed for children between the ages of 5 and 13. Through interactive activities such as guided hikes and scavenger hunts, kids can gain an appreciation for the park’s wildlife and habitats. They can also earn a badge upon completion of the program.
If you’re looking for an educational experience while visiting Everglades National Park, attending a ranger program is the perfect choice. With so many options available, you’re sure to find something that fits your interests.
8) Go Birding
Birding is a popular pastime in Everglades National Park. The park boasts over 350 species of birds, so it’s a great place for birders of all levels. From common backyard species to more exotic fare, there’s something for everyone.
One of the best places to start is at the Anhinga Trail, located off the main park road. Here you’ll find a boardwalk winding through a marshy habitat full of wildlife. You’re likely to spot several species here, including wood storks, anhingas, egrets, and ibises.
The Wildlife Drive offers a few other prime birding spots. Along the 6-mile loop, you’ll find overlooks that are perfect for spotting wading birds like herons and cranes. There’s also a flock of roseate spoonbills that can be spotted from the Pa-hay-okee Overlook.
Finally, head out to the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. Here you’ll find more waterfowl, plus warblers and swallows. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and a good field guide!
9) Rent a Kayak
If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable experience in Everglades National Park, you should consider renting a kayak. With its vast and varied terrain, there are plenty of paddling opportunities that will make your trip one to remember. Whether you want to explore the shallows of a mangrove swamp, cruise down the winding rivers, or head out on an overnight camping excursion, renting a kayak is a great way to take advantage of all that the park has to offer.
Renting a kayak can be quite affordable, with rates starting at around $30 per hour. You can also rent gear like paddles, life vests, and fishing rods, so you don’t need to bring anything with you. For experienced paddlers, there are guided tours available that provide insight into the park’s ecology and history. Alternatively, if you’re just looking for a leisurely paddle, you can rent a kayak and explore the waters at your own pace.
No matter what your experience level is, renting a kayak at Everglades National Park is sure to provide an unforgettable experience. There’s something special about gliding through these serene waters and taking in the sights and sounds of the wild. So grab a paddle and explore one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world!
10) Visit the Visitor Center
If you’re planning a trip to Everglades National Park, then the first stop you should make is the Visitor Center. Located just outside of the park entrance, the Visitor Center is the perfect place to learn all about the park’s unique wildlife, habitats, and history. Once you’re inside, you can view interactive exhibits, watch informative videos, and pick up maps and brochures that will help you make the most of your visit. The Visitor Center also offers free ranger-led programs, such as guided hikes and educational talks. So whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned park-goer, a trip to the Visitor Center is essential for getting the full Everglades experience.