Everglades National Park - between the cities of Naples and Miami in Florida

Airial view of the southwest tip of the Everglades National Park in Florida.
Airial view of the southwest tip of the Everglades National Park in Florida. | Source
The beautiful Florida panther on the endangered list in the Everglades.
The beautiful Florida panther on the endangered list in the Everglades. | Source
The American Crocodile, another endangered animal in the Everglades.
The American Crocodile, another endangered animal in the Everglades. | Source

The Everglades

Just 35 miles down the road from Naples, Florida is one of the largest wetland ecosystems in the United States and that is the Everglades National Park, at Homestead, Florida. It is a one and a half million acre park on the southern tip of Florida between the Floridian cities of Naples and Miami. No other national park in North America preserves such a singular and threatened ecosystem. Many of the animals, birds, fish and reptiles here in the park are on the endangered list for survival.

And, this summer, there were actually wildfires in the Everglades because of a drought we are having in Florida at this time. The sawgrass marshes, pine trees and other foliage in the Everglades were on fire this summer, due to the heat and extremely hot weather this area of Florida experiences in the summer. With the water in the wetlands literally evaporating because of the drought, the Everglades are more in danger of extinction than ever before. The state of Florida and environmentalists are trying to ensure its conservation for the future, so our children and grandchildren can enjoy the scenery, landscapes and wildlife of the Florida Everglades.

There is much wildlife in the park. Many of the birds you can enjoy are the

  • Roseate Spoonbills
  • Smooth-billed Anis
  • Snail Kites
  • Mangrove Cuckoos

And, there are approximately 350 other species of birds in the Everglades not found elsewhere in the U.S. That is why it so important that this national park and its wildlife be preserved for generations to come.

One of the most important animal/mammal in the Everglades is the Florida panther. It is a beautiful, large animal that is a golden-brown, long-tailed cat. There are fewer than fifty left in the Everglades today. The Florida panther represents the environmental deterioration that has plagued the Everglades in the last several years. Signs along the highway that say "Panther Crossing" will not be needed in a few years if these beautiful cats become extinct. Environmentalists are doing everything possible to preserve these beautiful cats in the Everglades.

The American crocodile, a saltwater reptile, is one of the unique and endangered animals in the Everglades. It is rarely seen and fewer than six hundred crocodiles remain in the Everglades. Within a few years, if they are not protected more, they will become extinct. What a sad statement will be made about the U.S. if our country allows this to happen.

The natural environment in the Everglades is becoming smaller and smaller as time goes on. Today, the park covers only twenty percent of the Everglades original area. The remainder of the Everglades has been diked and drained and the surface has been cut off from the inches deep and miles wide sheet of surface water that flows across the area and gives it life. This has been done to prevent the wildfires that have been starting to ignite and because of the shortage of park rangers and animal workers left to work in the Everglades park.

Alligator, one Florida animal that is very abundant in the Everglades and all of Florida.
Alligator, one Florida animal that is very abundant in the Everglades and all of Florida. | Source
Saw grass in freshwater slough seen on either side of the road along the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades.
Saw grass in freshwater slough seen on either side of the road along the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades. | Source
Mangrove trees along the Florida coastline in the Everglades.
Mangrove trees along the Florida coastline in the Everglades. | Source

Five Main Areas of the Everglades Park to Explore

1. Ten Thousand Islands are named for the many small mangrove islands that line the coast southwest of Everglades City. Here visitors can canoe and sea kayakers can navigate the 99 mile mangrove lined Wilderness Waterway which begins in Everglades City and ends at Flamingo at the tip of the peninsula. It takes several days to make this trip and only experienced paddlers should attempt this waterway. Permits are required by the park because of the wind, weather and inaccessibility of fresh water. Shorter over-night or day trips can be planned with Everglades City as the departure and return destination. Permits are required for overnight outings, but not for day trips. Canoe rentals and boat tours are available at the concession store at Flamingo Lodge and Marina and in Everglades Ctiy. An airboat ride through the Everglades is a fun way to see the sights: alligators, pelians, and other species of birds and reptiles living in the wetlands here. It skims the water and flies along the wetlands stopping to see important wildlife.

2. Shark Valley is the place the kids will love. It is situated on Tamiami Trail in the northeast corner of the park. The Shark Valley Visitor Center is located here and provides access to a shallow, slow-moving 50-mile wide body of water known as Shark River Slough and this slough is a critical link to preservation of the fragile Everglades ecosystem. Currents that slowly run throught its channel supply much of the water that keeps the park healthy. There are many ranger led programs and hikes, nature and bike trails and an observation tower for a wide-eyed view of the Everglades. Only foot traffic, bicycles and park operated trams are allowed in this area of the park. The car must be left in the nearby parking lot. This is a fragile ecosystem and to preserve the land and the animals in the park, cars are not permitted to drive here.

3. Royal Palm is the first stop along the main park road to Flamingo. It is a boardwalk through a forested wetland of Button Bushes and Pond Apples. The boardwalk is part of the Anhinga Trail, which runs along Taylor Slough. Alligators are easily seen here as they are one animal very abundant in the Everglades and in all of Florida. Alligators are freshwater reptiles. The Gumbo Limbo Trail, is a half mile jog through a tropical hammock and begins near the end of the parking lot.

4. Long Pine Key is an excellent recreation area and campground; however, no showers are available here. It is really misnamed as it is really not a key but a large pine island surrounded by wetlands. It is on the main park road less than four miles from the main entrance to the park. There are hiking trails through rimrock pines and tropical hammocks and there is a lot of wildlife and botany to see on these hikes. Pinelands and other Trails is a half mile long and is the first stop west of Long Pine Key. It features a southern Florida rimrock pine habitat. Pa-hay-okee Overlook Trail leads to an observation tower with a view of endless marshy glades from which the park gets its name. A boardwalk runs just above a sawgrass marsh and a muck substrate can be seen . Mahogany Hammmock Trail is seven miles past Pa-hay-oke, and is a half mile long boardwalk that passes through a mature tropical hammock.. Mahogany trees lline the trail and colorful Florida tree snails are found here. Paurotis Pond is an artificial lake in which grow the dainty thin-trunked Everglades Palm trees.

5. Flamingo Recreation Area is on the edge of the Florida Bay. It has a campground that is open only in the fall, winter and spring months. There is a marine, lodge, museum, boat tours, canoe rentals, visitor center, and wildlife watching. Canoe trails begin here. Paddle boats can be rented and run through Nine Mile Pond, Noble Hammock, Hell's Bay, Coot Bay, and Bear Lake. There are walking and hiking trails at Bear Lake, Christian Point, Rowdy Bend, Eco Pond, and Coastal Praire Trails. And, there is kayaking in Florida Bay.

Map of Everglades National Park.
Map of Everglades National Park. | Source

Getting Around the Everglades

When visiting the National Everglades Park, come prepared to stay several days to truly see the whole park. Royal Palm and Flamingo are the most accessible destinations in the park. There is a thirty-seven mile driving road (Rt. 9336) that travels from the main park entrance off U.S. 1 to Flamingo with several scenic stopping points and short hiking trails. Those with more time can take the route along Tamiami Trail that begins at Everglades City, thirty-five miles southeast of Naples via U.S. 41 and Route 29. This follows an eighty mile course that runs west to east. Tamiami Trail runs through Big Cypress National Preserve in which visitors can see the famous cypress trees of Florida. This route provides excellent views of subtropical Florida and its flora and fauna. It is a great route through the Everglades and a chance to experience the Everglades ecosystem.

Fall, winter and spring are the best times to vist the Everglades. The weather is temperate and it does not rain much normally during these seasons. Summer is extremely hot and humid in this subtropical part of Florida. You are literally at the tip of the peninsula when you are in the Everglades, and the biting insects and mosquitoes are awful and bothersome in the summer months. As mentioned before, lately wildfires have been breaking out in the Everglades in the summer months, and even if you are viewing nature away from the fires, the smoke inhalation is deadly here in the summer.

There are four separate entrances to the National Everglades Park:

  • Homestead and Florida City - these are the main entrances and are located on the east coast
  • Shark Valley
  • Everglades City - on the west coast
  • Chekika

The National Everglades Park is open year round, but as mentioned before, the best times to visit are fall, winter and spring. If you can only come in the summer, by all means, see the park, but it is not as pleasant as in the other months.

There are visitor centers at

  • Gulf Coast
  • Shark Valley
  • Ernest F. Coe
  • Royal Palm
  • Flamingo


Contact Information:

Everglades National Park

40001 State Road 9336

Homestead, Florida 33034-6733

Phone: 1-305-242-7700


A visit to Florida is not complete without seeing America's best wetlands and ecosystem in the country. Because some animals and wildlife are becoming extinct, the sooner you visit the National Everglades Park the better. You wouldn't want to miss seeing a real Florida panther or crocodile would you?

More on the Everglades

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Comments 35 comments

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

I really like this great travel tutorial of the everglades. I have traveled there and you describe it perfectly. Suzette, you really enjoy living there and are a great representative of that great state.


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

Suzette, I really like it when you write about these places in Florida. When I read your hubs, I'm like transported to Naples in the US.

This hub is well-illustrated and well-written, just like your other hubs. I like the way you used pics, maps, and even contact numbers!

Among the areas you listed, I find Shark Valley and Flamingo Recreation Area the most interesting. I think the atmosphere in these places is really family-oriented.


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

I think the Florida Everglades are absolutely fascinating, from the terrain to the exotic creatures.


carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg

Wow, the Everglades look like a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing this. I have never been to Florida, but will definitely put it on my list!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hyphen: I just love it here in Florida and today I made Florida my permanent residence. Goodbye Ohio! I have just fallen in love with nature down here as it is so different and interesting to me. I am concerned about the endangered animals and I hate to see them become extinct. I have to look more into this area of wildlife preservation and conservation of the wetlands. So much to do and so little time. Right now I'm trying not to overextend myself and my commitments.

Florida has really been good for me. It has inspired me to write again, (I haven't really written since college) and I am enjoying hubpages so much. I really appreciate your input and feedback on my writing. It is so helpful to me. Thanks for reading and commenting!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM Author

kerylnb: Thank you so much for your comments! Yes, I have fallen in love with Florida and as I experience more places in this sunny state, I plan to write more Florida hubs.

But, I feel the same about your hubs about the Phillipines. You make me feel like I'm right there also. In fact, I had never thought of visiting or traveling to the Phillipines, until I read your hubs and saw the photos. You country is absolutely beautiful.

If you come to Naples, look me up and be sure to see the Everglades. They are such and interesting place and there is no other like it in the U.S. It probably is like some places in the Phillipines. I've been living in Ohio for most of the last 30 years, so Florida is like a new world to me.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM Author

ktrapp: Sounds like you have visited the Everglades. It is just an amazing park and wetlands. I still want to see some of the national parks out west like Yellowstone and Yosemite as they look amazing also. Thanks for reading and commenting.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM Author

carcro: Thank you for your comments and I'm glad you liked this hub. By all means, check out the Everglades as it is worth a trip to Florida. There is so much to do there and usually there is something for everybody to do. I love nature and so I love the Everglades. There are some dangerous animals and reptiles there, but if you follow the advice of the rangers and respect the animals, they won't bother you. The beauty is stunning. All of Florida, especially along the coastlines is beautiful. Be sure to try out some of the beaches when you are here, too.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, this sounds like a wonderful place to visit, I love animals and try to get to as many parks and zoo's as I can, I just wanted to add what a beautiful picture of the panther at the top, amazing!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM Author

The panthers down here are beautiful. Believe it or not, there are actually panther crossing signs on streets down here, and you have to stop the car and let a panther cross if he/she wants to because they are an endangered species. I'm just waiting for the day I come face to face with a panther - I'll probably faint.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

How I would love to visit the Everglades, it's on my 'to do' list, but this was the next best thing!

Brilliantly written and great photos, thank you.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, do come here to see the Everglades. They are amazing. I saw them for the first time when I was a teenager. Now, living near them is so wonderful and the parade of nature and animals going through the park is amazing. Glad you enjoyed this.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I love the beautiful photographs and lovely map of the Everglades you provided. I have been across Alligator Alley many times. Thank you for this interesting article. It is very good.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed this article. I have been across Alligator Alley many times also, but I have never run across an alligator, yet. I have been told they do appear on the alley.

I enjoy reading your articles also.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Hi suzette. Been to Miami and Ft Lauderdale but never made it to the Everglades park although I sure would like to some day. The 5 main areas and map were some interesting info for me.. Has the drought lifted there yet? Also constantly hear people talking about the non-native species like Pythons that have taken hold in the Everglades.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Alastar: Your knowledge base amazes me. You know so much about everything! The Everglades is fascinating to me. Florida is still having its drought, although we have had some rain this winter,but just not enough to end the drought. The pythons are something else - they are so hungry they are eating baby deer, if you can imagine that! I hate snakes and that is one species I don't go out of my way to see in the Everglades. I can even tolerate alligators and crocodiles more than snakes.

I have discovered a whole new world of nature since moving to Florida and learning about the subtropics is so interesting to me. I'm learning to love the flora and fauna also.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

Suzannah,

Thanks for publishing this article. It brought back memories of the time we visited the Everglades several years ago.

I recommend an airboat ride to everyone who has the opportunity to take one. It's a great way to see the natural beauty of this area.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

This article is better than a travel brochure! Well done. I'll have to plan a trip there soon since it's jsut a few hours away. I'll be sure and tell them you sent me:)


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Living in the Florida Keys as a kid we visited this site many times, on school field trips and with my Uncle who took people on fishing expeditions in the 60s and let us tag along. What a great rundown on this incredible wonder of the world. I hope you won't mind that I'll be adding your link to my hub about Salt Water Fishing.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Daisy, I agree with you and an airboat ride is the way to see the Everglades. It is a fascinating place full of fascinating nature. Thanks for stopping by and reading! I always appreciate your input!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Oh, yes, Sunshine, they know me personally down there in the Everglades (LOL) I don't really want to come face to face with any alligators or panthers, so airboat rides are my speed in the Everglades. If you are fascinated by nature as I am, you will enjoy a trip there. Just not during the summer - tooooooo Hot!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

PegCole17: Wow! You have a lot of experience in the the Everglades. That is fantastic! I'll have to check out your hub on Salt Water Fishing - sounds fun and interesting! Thanks for stopping by, reading, an commenting. I appreciate your input!


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Suzette. Great hub on the Everglades. Really enjoyed this. What a shame it would be if the Florida Panther became extinct. Let's hope that all of the conservation efforts save this amazing creature.

Well done. Voting up...


Jenna Pope profile image

Jenna Pope 4 years ago from Southern California

Either you've lived in the Everglades all your life, or you spent a long time researching. Well done! Voted up.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

We have alligators galore, but the panther is endangered. It would be ashame if we lose them. I'm glad you enjoyed this and thanks for your comments!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Jenna: I do live near them in Florida (Naples). They have a beauty all their own. I drive throught them when I go to the east coast of Florida and they are amazing. Thanks so much for your comments and votes. They are greatly appreciated!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

My grandparents, parents and even my husband (before I knew him) have all been to the Everglades. It is on my bucket list. Your hub was so informative and descriptive. Pythons eating baby deer would not be a pretty sight to see...but all of the wildlife and plant life would be so interesting to view up close. It is such a large national park that it would take a long time to fully enjoy it.

I just linked your hub to my latest one about The Water World of the 3 National Parks in Florida. It will add a lot of depth to my article and hopefully have more people reading yours. Thanks! Up votes and sharing.


Mklow1 2 years ago

Great article. I am glad you shared this because I had the great fortune to take a tour of the Everglades this Christmas with my wife and kids. My in-laws live in Miami, so we decided to take an air boat tour while we were visiting for the holiday. It was only an hour, but we had a blast and it was very interesting. We saw a lot of alligators and crocodiles, too!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Mklow: Wonderful! An air boat tour is the best way to see the Everglades in my opinion. The Everglades are full of surprises along the way and I am so glad to see you saw some crocodiles. Although, alligators are most common, there are many crocodiles too. I am so glad you enjoyed the Everglades. I find them so interesting and so full of life. Thanks for your comments - most appreciated.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 2 years ago from USA

Great hub about this unique and wonderful National Park. We visited and camped in the Everglades in the Flamingo area, and absolutely loved the birds and wildlife (not so much the mosquitoes!). Even though we were there for two weeks, I see from your very informative article that a return visit or two will be necessary... there's so much more to see!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Stephanie: Isn't this a great place? I have never camped there but now that I have heard you have I am interested in doing that. Sounds fun. I am so glad you enjoyed your visit to the Everglades. So interesting!


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida

I live in S. Florida and have been to this park several times. I did not know we had crocodiles in the park!!

This is an excellent Hub to acquaint people with just one of our wonderful attractions in our great state of Florida.

Voted UP, etc.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi mary! Yes, surprisingly there are crocodiles in the Everglades. Who knew? I think the Everglades is one of the major draws to southern Florida. It is so huge and interesting. Something for everyone.


bluebird profile image

bluebird 2 years ago

I've been to two places in Florida, Pensacola and Tampa. I really like white sand beaches. But thanks to you I am becoming more acquainted with the great state and this hub is excellent for learning about the Everglades and wetlands. You even provided a nice map!

It makes me want to go visit for sure! Wonderful job


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

bluebird: If you get to southeast or west Florida the Everglades are not to be missed. I find it so interesting and beautiful. The flora and fauna and then all the animals, birds, fish etc. that live in the glades is amazing. I'm with you, I love the white sand beaches of Florida. I think there are not more beautiful. I have been to Pensacola and Tampa, although not recently. But, I do know they are beautiful places and beaches also. So glad you read this hub and enjoyed it.

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