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part of the Shark River Slough
Everglades National Park
Closest available address
Main park visitor center is 10 miles west of downtown Homestead.
Park is open 24 hours. The main visitor center is generally open 9-5.
Best time to visit
Everglades National Park is a world famous natural area. It enjoys the rare distinction of being an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance. The park is approximately 1.5 million acres and was established in 1947. Facilities and attractions include four visitor centers, numerous hiking trails and boardwalks, canoe/kayak trails, a touring drive and campgrounds. There are also many recreational options such as walking, birding, biking, boating, kayaking, star gazing and park sponsored outings.
The Everglades are one of the world's great wetlands. Traditionally these grasslands were fed by a broad, shallow and slow moving river that flowed from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. Water flows have been greatly diminished over the years due to human intervention, but the park is still bountiful and beautiful. Some of the misguided water diversions may be undone in years ahead to help restore the ecosystem. The park is surrounded by other federal and state parks such that overall conservation lands in this area are well over 2 million acres. Park habitats include grass prairies, hardwood hammocks, pinelands, mangrove forests, and saltwater bays. The park is cooler and drier in winter and wetter and more humid in summer.
Start your visit at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center. It has informative museum exhibits about the park’s ecology. Also, many park classes and programs are presented here. Either prior to your visit or upon arrival, check on the scheduled activities, so you can participate in some. It will enrich your overall park experience. It's about 40 miles from the visitor center to Flamingo on the main park road. It’s worth driving slowly both to enjoy the scenery and because the speed limit is strictly enforced. The best stops were at Royal Palm (easy short trails/boardwalks and many birds and alligators in winter) Mahogany Hammock (interesting boardwalk with interpretive signs in a lush hardwood hammock) and Flamingo (views of Florida Bay, cafe and a small museum). There are separate reviews of boat tours in Flamingo, a walking tour of a former Nike missile base and the tram tour in Shark Valley. The Nike Missile tour is enjoyable if you like history, and the tram tour is a good way to see a prairie environment. The park was interesting, educational and relaxing. Diverse attractions and recreational options should appeal to multiple types of travelers. Winter is the best time to visit as there are fewer mosquitoes.
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