The Everglades: Florida’s Biggest National Park

Binoculars?  Check.  Camera?  Check.  Hiking boots?  Check.  It looks as though you are all set to discover and record the delights of The Everglades in Florida!

Despite covering 1,509,000 acres, The Everglades National Park only represents 20% of the actual Everglades.  The full area stretches from Kissimmee in central Florida near Orlando right down to Florida Bay in the south.  The National Park was established in 1934 due to The Everglades’ fragility in an effort to protect the diminishing area.

Set sail
With such a huge area to explore, consisting of mangroves, waterways, wetlands, forests, marl prairies and freshwater sloughs, you’ll need a guide and a reliable mode of transport.

Fortunately the park is geared up for explorers.  Numerous companies in The Everglades area have come up with exciting tours using all manner of vessels.  For instance you can speed along the waterways and through the mangroves in boats, airboats and swamp buggies and tour the 10,000 Islands.  Or if you’re up for the challenge, power yourself along the 99 mile Wilderness Waterway between Everglades City and Flamingo in a canoe.  Don’t worry there will be plenty of sights and wildlife en route to distract you from your aching limbs.

If this sounds too much like hard work, how about a more relaxing boat or kayak fishing tour?  Once you’ve got to grips with not capsizing your kayak, you can cast your line and reel in tarpon and snook for dinner.

Set foot

If you’re happier on dry land then the Everglades National Park has many walking and hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty.  There are short self-guided trails such as the Anhinga and Gumbo Lingo as well as longer guided hikes.  All of which take in the varied landscape and get you closer to the wildlife you really want to see.

Due to the park’s huge expanse there are 4 visitor centers servicing the area.  All the information you need on booking tours, hooking up with a guide and the most suitable hikes can be obtained from them.  If you’re based in Miami you’ll find The Shark Valley Visitor Centre easily accessible on Route 41.  The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is near Everglades City, near Homestead you’ll find the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center and the Flamingo Visitor Center has its own marina.

It’s all about the inhabitants
However you choose to explore this vast subtropical wetland area, you’ll be treated to sights of its inhabitants in their natural habitat.  Many endangered and protected species hide out here so get your camera ready to ‘pap’ the Florida panther, the American crocodile and the West Indian manatee.  In amongst the 350 species of vibrantly coloured birds, 300 species of freshwater and saltwater fish are the endangered turtles.  Get your guide to point out the difference between the Atlantic loggerhead, hawksbill, ridley and green sea turtle.

Ocean Florida offers multi centre holidays USA which allow you to mix it up experiencing the wonders of nature and the excitement of Disney Florida Holidays.

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My name is Jake and I work as a copywriter for the Ocean Florida, an independent UK-based tour operator specialising in the USA.