“There are no other Everglades in the world.” So began River of Grass, the 1947 classic by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas that helped to call attention to the need to protect this vast and unique ecosystem.
Dedicated on December 6, 1947, by President Harry S Truman, Everglades National Park was the culmination of decades worth of effort to preserve and protect the uniqueness of South Florida, with visionaries like Ernest Coe, David Fairchild, John Pennekamp, and Ms. Douglas leading the charge.
Within the 2,358 square miles of Everglades National Park, the park boundaries protect the largest sawgrass prairie in North America, the largest mangrove forest in the Western hemisphere, and dozens of intriguing and rare habitats such as tree islands and pine rocklands. Landscapes are majestic here, with sweeping panoramas of marsh and cypress.
About the Park
There are four separate entrances to the park, the most well-known of which is the Main Park Road at Homestead, which leads to most of the park’s hiking trails and the developed campgrounds that are best visited in winter.
Shark Valley, along US 41 (Tamiami Trail) west of Miami is also a popular destination with a paved biking/tram loop and nature trails.
The Gulf Coast Visitor Center and Flamingo Visitor Centers anchor the two far-flung outposts of the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway, one of the wildest paddling trips in America.
Chekika Day Use Area near Kendall is the least-used entrance since it may only be visited by permit.
As of January 2020, the fee to enter Everglades National Park is $30 per private vehicle, $25 per motorcycle, or $15 per pedestrian or cyclist. Your receipt is good for 7 consecutive days from purchase. If you live nearby, it makes sense to get a National Parks pass.
All camping reservations are handled by Recreation.gov
Ernest Coe Visitor Center, 40001 SR 9336, Homestead
Flamingo Visitor Center, near the end of Main Park Road, Flamingo
Shark Valley Visitor Center, 36000 SW 8th St, Miami (along US 41)
Gulf Coast Visitor Center, 815 Oyster Bar Lane, Everglades City
Most of the hiking trails in the Everglades are short and tame, letting you sample these wild habitats and see their delicate inhabitants, like the liguus tree snails, with ease. Two trails are open to backpackers, the Coastal Prairie Trail and the Old Ingraham Highway.