FloridaThe Ultimate Guide to Everglades National Park
Shark Valley Everglades National Park on a bicycle

The Ultimate Guide to Everglades National Park

If you’re all about tropical vibes and swampy adventures, then Everglades National Park is calling your name! As a die-hard tropical enthusiast, the Everglades have become one of my go-to spots. Picture this: lush swamps, gators, birds galore, and some of the most unique wildlife you’ll ever encounter. Whether you’re a novice explorer or a seasoned adventurer, there’s something for everyone here.

When people think of national parks, they often picture towering mountains or expansive canyons. But Everglades National Park is a different kind of wonder. What it lacks in traditional grandeur, it more than makes up for with its incredible biodiversity.

When to Visit Everglades National Park

Timing is everything! The most popular months to visit are October to March when the weather is cooler and drier. However, if you can handle the heat, the park is worth a visit year-round. Just be prepared for some serious summer temperatures because, let’s face it, Everglades National Park is in the sizzling heart of Southern Florida.

Things to Do in Everglades National Park

Hike the Trails

Ready for a walk on the wild side? Everglades National Park boasts a variety of trails that cater to all fitness levels. Here are some you shouldn’t miss:

  • Anhinga Trail: Perfect for spotting wildlife, this short, easy trail is just under a mile round-trip.
  • Gumbo Limbo Trail: This half-mile trail takes you through a shaded, tropical hardwood hammock.
  • Long Pine Key Trail: For the more adventurous, this 7-mile loop offers a more immersive nature experience.

Discover the Park Zones

The park is divided into several key zones, each offering unique landscapes and activities.

  • Flamingo: Located at the southernmost point, Flamingo is ideal for bird watching and fishing.
  • Shark Valley: Famous for its 15-mile loop road, perfect for biking and offering panoramic views from an observation tower.
  • Gulf Coast Visitor Center: Jump off point for exploring the Ten Thousand Islands by boat or kayak.

Explore Shark Valley

Shark Valley is the park’s hidden gem. With a flat, paved road, it’s perfect for biking. Don’t have your bike? No problem! Rentals are available at the Shark Valley Visitor Center. The main attraction here is the observation tower. Climb up and you’re rewarded with sweeping views of the Everglades.

Paddle Through Kayaking Routes

Nothing screams adventure like kayaking through the Everglades’ waterways. Here are some top routes:

  • Nine Mile Pond: A loop trail perfect for beginners and seasoned paddlers alike.
  • Hell’s Bay: More challenging, this route is aptly named for its twisty, narrow passages through mangroves.

Take a Boat Tour

Want a more relaxed way to see the park? Boat tours provide a fantastic overview without breaking a sweat. Most tours depart from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center and range from narrated wildlife tours to private fishing charters.

Cost to Visit Everglades National Park

The park offers several passes:

  • Individual Entry: $15 (valid for 7 days)
  • Vehicle Entry: $30 (valid for 7 days)
  • Annual Pass: $55 (unlimited entries for one year)

Additional fees may apply for certain activities, such as boat tours or bike rentals.

How Long Do You Need?

Short on time? No worries! Here’s a breakdown to help you make the most of your visit:

  • Half-Day: Visit Shark Valley and bike the loop.
  • Full Day: Combine a visit to Shark Valley with a boat tour from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center.
  • Two Days: Spend your first day in Flamingo exploring the trails and kayaking. On the second day, visit Shark Valley and take a boat tour.

How to Get to Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park might feel like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but that’s part of its charm! It’s about an hour’s drive from Miami, so you’ll want to fly into Miami International Airport (MIA) or Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Other nearby airports include Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) and Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers.

Where to Stay

For the hardcore adventurers, Everglades City is the closest town to the park. But if you want to mix in a bit of city life, staying in Miami or Miami Beach is a solid option. You’ll be about an hour’s drive from the park, plus you get the bonus of exploring Miami’s vibrant culture and nightlife.

How Long to Stay

We’ve visited Everglades National Park three times, and each visit included a full day of activities. If you’re making the drive from Miami (roughly an hour each way), planning at least two full days is ideal. This gives you time to soak in both the park’s natural wonders and the unique attractions just outside the park. But hey, if you can swing a longer stay, go for it! More time means a more relaxed pace and a chance to see everything without rushing.

Pro Tip:

You can definitely cover the main sights—like a boat tour and park trails—in one day. But why rush? Take your time and really savor the experience.

Best Things to Do in Everglades National Park


  • Anhinga Trail: Short but sweet, this trail is perfect for spotting wildlife.
  • Gumbo Limbo Trail: A shaded, easy walk that’s great for all fitness levels.


  • Nine Mile Pond Canoe Trail: Navigate through mangroves and marshes—pure magic!
  • Hell’s Bay Canoe Trail: For the more adventurous souls, this one’s a bit more challenging but totally worth it.

Nature Walking

  • Pa-hay-okee Overlook: Offers panoramic views of the Everglades—a must-see!
  • Mahogany Hammock: Wander through a dense, tropical hardwood forest.


  • The park’s remote location makes it perfect for stargazing. Bring a blanket and lay back to enjoy the night sky.

Boat Touring

  • Several operators offer boat tours that take you deep into the mangrove forests. Keep your camera ready for some epic wildlife shots.

Gator Shows

  • Everglades Alligator Farm: Catch a thrilling gator show and learn all about these fascinating creatures.
A Biodiversity Hotspot

Within these million-plus acres of wetlands, you’ll find an extraordinary array of life:

  • 200 types of fish
  • 350 species of birds
  • 120 varieties of trees
  • Over 1,000 different kinds of plants

And all this is just an hour south of Miami!

Imagine spotting an iridescent-winged purple gallinule, watching bottlenose dolphins breach, or seeing alligators basking in the sun. But to experience these wonders, you need to dive into the saw-grass prairies and mangrove-lined waterways. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert hiker or kayaker to explore. With just a few days, you can dip into various sections of the park, accessible through three main entrances and the adjacent Big Cypress National Preserve. Organized ranger programs and self-guided tour maps make your adventure a breeze.

Neighboring Towns: Worth the Visit

Everglades City

A gateway to the park, this charming town offers airboat tours, local seafood restaurants, and quaint shops.


Located just outside the park, Homestead is home to quirky attractions like the Coral Castle and Schnebly Redland’s Winery.


The ultimate urban escape, Miami combines beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a rich cultural scene.

Bonus Tip:

Don’t miss the local eateries in these towns. Everglades City is known for its stone crabs, while Miami offers a melting pot of culinary delights.


Everglades National Park is more than just a swamp; it’s an amazing mix of ecosystems teeming with life and adventure. Whether you’re kayaking through mangroves, hiking scenic trails, or simply soaking in the views, this park promises an unforgettable experience.

I believe that you can travel the world without quitting your job. I believe that you can experience all the magic, the foodies and the cultures of the world while having a normal life. And, perhaps, two dogs. This is exactly what I’ve been doing for 15 years. This is exactly what my blog is about. Love, Lilia

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