Ways to Explore Everglades National Park

July 14, 2012 by

Great Egret, Ardea alba
Looking for a wilderness experience you’ll never forget? The Everglades National Park may be just the destination. Whether you enjoy trails, camping, or spying on wildlife in their natural habitat, with 1.5 million acres there are several ways to explore Everglades National Park for a unique and memorable experience.

Camping: Everglades National Park offers two kinds of year-round camping with frontcountry and backcountry opportunities. Frontcountry camping is available at two sites accessible from the Homestead park entrance.

If you’re not ready to give up the luxury of electricity, look for the Flamingo camping area where electric hookups are available on a first come, first served basis, but be aware that campers are charged whether or not the electric used.

Pine Island is the other frontcountry option without electricity. Reservations aren’t accepted for either, so plan to arrive earlier rather than later. For campers 62 and older who are U.S. citizens or who are permanently disabled, discounts are available.

Backcountry sites are available for those ready to rough it even more. These sites are accessible by canoe, boat, kayak, and in some instances hikers and require a camping permit.

Boating: Boating is a popular activity in Everglades National Park and is a great opportunity to fish, kayak, or canoe. To plan for an Everglades boating adventure review their boating and fishing regulations by visiting their website.

American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis

Water Trails: Everglades National Park offers a unique wilderness experience with water trails that open a whole new world of exploration. The Hell’s Bay Canoe Trail is a 5.5 mile route that weaves through mangroves, ponds, and a series of small bays. It’s an all-day adventure that can take 6-8 hours at a leisurely pace. If this one sounds like it’s for you, you’ll need to get a permit.

The Nine Mile Pond Canoe Trail is a little shorter. It’s a five-mile loop that provides a shortcut that cuts 1 ½ miles off the trip. This one takes about 4-5 hours at a leisurely pace. While these water trails provide a magnificent way to explore the park, check with a ranger about water levels to be sure the experience will be all you’re hoping for.

Ranger Programs

A variety of ranger-led programs are available from mid-April 15 to mid-November. Check with the park to learn about current opportunities.

What to Bring

While there are a variety of ways to explore Everglades National Park, there are a few items you’ll want to bring to make the experience the best. Pack plenty of bottled water so you stay hydrated, and don’t forget sunscreen, bug spray, and a water proof bag to carry your gear. Along with all that be sure to pack your camera to capture the once-in-a-lifetime wildlife photos.

Photo credits: National Park Service

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