Is Everglades dangerous

Everglades National Park in Florida - a seemingly endless swamp area

They are almost as famous as the Sunshine State itself and almost a must-see for anyone visiting Florida: the Everglades. Extending about 70 kilometers southwest of Miami, they cover an area of ​​6,104 square kilometers and are the only place on earth where one can encounter both crocodiles and alligators. But that is not the only point that makes the largest subtropical area in the USA an unforgettable experience.

Table of Contents
What are the Everglades? | Everglades National Park Numbers, Dates, Facts | Location of the Everglades in the USA | Everglades National Park tickets | Weather and Climate in the Everglades | The Everglades National Park | The Everglades for tourists | Hotels, Apartments and Vacation Rentals | Stay and eat in the Everglades | Visitor centers at the park entrances | Opening times | Entry to Everglades National Park | getting there

It's just one of the reasons the Everglades are protected and even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What are the Everglades?

Contrary to what is often assumed, the Everglades is not a conventional marshland, but a slowly flowing grass lake or a river that flows very slowly and lies in an seemingly endless grassy landscape. Grass as far as the eye can see is not just talked about here in this wetland. The water there is only up to 15 centimeters deep in places and not all areas are always flooded. In the course of time, savannah-like landscapes have developed in the national park, in which mainly grass or grasses and tropical plants thrive.

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Numbers, dates, facts about Everglades National Park

  • State: Florida (USA)
  • surface: 5,667.78 square kilometers
  • founding: December 6, 1947
  • Visitor: 597.124 (2018)
  • Closest city: Homestead (Florida)

Location of the Everglades in the USA

The Everglades are fed by the water from Lake Okeechobee. The lake is in the north of the swamp. From Lake Okeechobee, the water masses flow very slowly over the Shark River Slough, better known as the River of Grass, from north to south to the extreme southern tip of the Florida peninsula to the Gulf of Mexico. Another Slough is located with the smaller Taylor Slough east of the Shark River Slough.

The Everglades are not a real marshland, but rather a prairie that is mostly flooded and only dry in winter. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness covers nearly 1.3 million acres of Everglades National Park.

The highly sensitive ecosystem on the border between fresh and salt water offers a unique landscape and is home to the lowest point in Florida. The highest natural point is only 2.4 meters above sea level.

Tickets for the Everglades National Park

Tickets for the Everglades National Park can be found at www.getyourguide.de.

Weather and Climate in the Everglades

The Everglades has a subtropical climate with very hot, humid summers with lots of rainfall and mild, dry winters. A rainy season and a dry season can be differentiated here. During the summer rainy season from May to around October, rather unsightly weather conditions and many mosquitos are to be expected. In the months from April to October there are always hurricanes.

Since there are true invasions of mosquitoes in the swamp in summer, the months from December to April, i.e. the dry season, are considered the best time to travel. If you venture into the swamps of the national park in summer, you should definitely wear tropical clothing and don't forget the mosquito repellent.

Everglades National Park

About half of the Everglades is used for agriculture. In addition, some of the water from the Everglades is used to produce drinking water. For example, for the water needs of the city of Miami. To protect the unique landscape, the southern part of the Everglades was designated as a national park. However, the national park only comprises around 20 percent of the original wetlands.

The wildlife of the Everglades

In the Everglades, Mother Nature can be experienced in all its glory. There are many ponds, bays and other ecologically important habitats in which numerous animal species have found a home in the wild. In total there are around 400 species of birds, 60 species of amphibians and reptiles and around 40 species of mammals that have found their habitat here. Among other things, the only flamingos in the USA live in the wild and many other animals such as raccoons, black bears, manatees, alligators, crocodiles, turtles, roseate spoonbills and pumas live in the park.

There are also over 500 species of fish. Most of the fish are marine or brackish water fish.

Endangered species in Everglades National Park include:

  • American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)
  • Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  • Atlantic bastard shields (Lepidochelys kempii)
  • Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
  • Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
  • Beach bunting (Ammodramus maritima mirabilis)
  • Snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus)
  • Forest stork (Mycteria americana)
  • Caribbean manatee (Trichechus manatus)
  • Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi)
  • American bush rat (Neotoma floridana smalli)
  • Key Lago cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola)
  • Cockade woodpecker (Picoides borealis)
  • Island swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus ponceanus)

The animal world is threatened by hurricanes, changing environmental conditions in the traditional habitat, but also by non-local animal species that have been introduced by humans. The tiger python, which was introduced in the 80s of the previous century, is a major problem here. In addition, Nile crocodiles can now also be found in the Everglades. The animals are much larger than alligators (up to 6 meters) and pose a much greater danger to humans than the species native to the Everglades.

The flora of the Everglades

The Everglades are the largest subtropical area in the United States and have an extraordinarily diverse and lush flora. All in all, the Everglades area can be divided into six vegetation zones.

In the shallow brackish water of the 30 to 60 kilometer Florida Bay in the south of the Everglades, seaweed and mangroves are mainly found. Cacti, agaves and yucca palms can be found on the dry coastline. Behind it is a dense mangrove belt, which is criss-crossed by many narrow waterways. If you go further inland in the fresh water, this is replaced by the cypress swamps, in which a loose forest of bald cypress trees thrives. The ground is covered with sedge, which makes up the actual grassy landscape of the Everglades and is mostly flooded by shallow water. A real sea of ​​grass.

This huge grassy landscape is interrupted by ponds, pools and small elevations made of limestone, the so-called hammocks or tree islands. The tree islands are overgrown with tropical woods. Here you will find mainly royal palms, but also gumbo limbo, bustics, oaks, mastics, mahogany trees and poison wood, tetracygia, wild coffee and wild wine as well as many ferns and mosses. The orchids and bromeliads that thrive on the branches of trees and fallen trees are particularly beautiful. It is driest in the east of the national park, where there are forests with pine trees.

Only half of the water from the lake reaches the Everglades

The continued existence of this unique ecosystem with its characteristic tree islands, beautiful orchids and bromeliads depends on the water that has to flow through the Everglades unhindered and without pollution. Would have to flow, because unfortunately this is no longer guaranteed today, especially at the southern tip of Florida. Only half of the water from the lake reaches the Everglades, the rest is used for irrigation of agricultural areas or for land reclamation.

Therefore, there are now various government measures to renaturalize the water catchment area, including restoring the flow of water over the Kissimmee River. The wetland is also repeatedly threatened by fire.

In total, over 1000 species of plants can be found in this place. Including more than 100 tree species such as mahogany trees and royal palms, ferns and a variety of beautiful orchids and bromeliads.

The Everglades for tourists

For visitors to Florida who also want to visit the Everglades as part of their vacation, a visit to the national park is best. Nature lovers will definitely get their money's worth here thanks to the unique flora and fauna. And if you are lucky, you can even see the majestic osprey approaching prey.

Hotels, apartments and holiday homes

For hotels, apartments and vacation rentals near Everglades National Park, visit www.booking.com.


Watch animals in the Everglades

Even if the river through the Everglades with its characteristic tree islands seems so incredibly calm, you shouldn't be fooled by it. It is a landscape in which life pulsates. Scaly alligators share the swamps with flamingos, egrets, pelicans, cranes, falcons, ibises, storks and hundreds of other birds.

Florida Bay's salt water is teeming with fish, dolphins, turtles, sharks and manatees. The best way to watch the animals is from a boat. The best time to observe animals in the national park is the dry season in the months from December to April, when the animals gather in the remaining wetlands. In addition, there are fewer mosquitoes.

Fantastic spots for bird watching

  • Anhinga Trail
  • Mahogany Hammock & surrounding area
  • Paurotis Pond
  • Nine Mile Pond
  • Snake Bight Trail
  • Mrazek Pond
  • Eco Pond
  • Shark Valley (Miami)
  • Gulf Coast (Everglades City)

Watch manatees in the Everglades

The manatees, also known as manatees, are certainly one of the most famous animals in Florida alongside the alligators and can also be seen in the region. In South Florida, for example, this is possible around the Ten Thousand Islands in South Florida. A large group of manatees make their home here.It is best to take one of the eco-tours offered by a provider in the region.

The boat tours are carried out, for example, around the Ten Thousand Islands between Port of the Island Marina and the Gulf of Mexico. The islands are best accessed through the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. There you can also find out more about the region at the beginning of your tour and buy a map if necessary. You can find boat tours in the Everglades National Park at www.getyourguide.de.

Dangers in the Everglades

Reptiles such as snakes, crocodiles and alligators, mammals such as black bears, raccoons or the endangered Florida panther and impressive bird species such as herons, darter (anhingas), storks, rose spoonbills, ospreys, ibises, pelicans and cormorants, there is one in the Everglades incredible biodiversity. But not all specimens are dangerous.

Nevertheless, you should always keep your distance when observing animals. Especially when it comes to dangerous animal species such as snakes. But also in order not to disturb other animals such as raccoons and bird species such as darters or cormorants, you should always keep the necessary distances, stay away from the nests and take your pictures from a safe distance. Intervention could otherwise have serious consequences for the animals, some of which are threatened with extinction!

The mosquitoes in the region are more annoying than dangerous. As a tourist, think of suitable clothing and adequate mosquito repellent!

Attention: Some plant species are also poisonous. Before you start your day trip on foot, by bike or via the waterways, it is best to get information about the visitor centers or a good guide.

The most famous road through the town: the Tamiami Trail

The Tamiami Trail is a road that you can use, for example, during a drive from the Gulf of Mexico to Key West and which is ideal for experiencing the Everglades National Park with its beautiful mangrove forests and the famous river while driving . Because the road leads on the northern edge directly through the Everglades and Big Cypress National Park and offers some beautiful spots to hike, fish or have a picnic.

The Tamiami Trail was once built on a raised dam. The Scenic Loop is also worthwhile, as it looks inconspicuous at first glance and is only rarely visited.

Shark River Valley

Shark River Valley is a great place to take a break and take one of the three trails there on foot, bike, or ride the Shark Valley Tram. The longest of the trails, which you can follow for several hours, leads to the 22-meter-high Shark River Tower. The viewing platform offers a fantastic view of the nature reserve and its inhabitants as far as the eye can see.

The other two trails, the Bobcat Boardwalk and the Otter Cave Trail, are significantly shorter and also good if you just want to take a short walk and only have an hour or less to spare. The Fakahatchee Boardwalk is also very nice for a quick detour.

Airboat, canoe or kayak - what's best for the Everglades

The best known are certainly the airboat tours in the Everglades. But conservationists see the excursions with the propeller boat across the canals rather critically. Airboats are propeller-powered hovercraft that move through the canals in a unique way. However, such a propeller boat is very noisy. For this reason, you are unlikely to see alligators while driving. Nonetheless, if you plan on taking an airboat ride during your stay, you'll find plenty of companies offering the activity along the Tamiami Trail.

Driving in a canoe or kayak is much quieter. Here you come very close to the many species of birds and other animals on land in the forest with its mahogany trees and orchids, bromeliads, bald cypresses and other plants, on the shore or directly in the water. Make sure you stick to the canoe trails here too and don't disturb the animals. Locals, who will guide you through the water paths and give you valuable tips, are worth their weight in gold here. You can find boat tours in the Everglades National Park at www.getyourguide.de.

Cultural sights in the national park

Those who not only want to marvel at nature in the Everglades, but also enjoy a little culture, also have the opportunity to do so in the national park.

The following cultural sights, for example, are worthwhile:

  • Big Cypress Gallery: The Big Cypress National Preserve houses an exhibit of black and white photographs by famous Everglades photographers Clyde Butcher, Niki Butcher, and other wildlife photographers. In addition, guided swamp hikes are offered here on Saturdays from September to March. In addition, photographic and artistic workshops will take place on selected dates.
  • Ochopee Post Office: The Ochopee Post Office in the Everglades is the smallest in the United States. Once it was just a shed for storing tools and tomatoes. Today it is a full-fledged post office with space for one clerk and forty mailboxes. Every six days a postman is sent on a 270-kilometer journey to deliver the mail to 300 customers, most of whom live somewhere in nowhere.
  • Miccosukee Indian Village: Located about 30 minutes west of Miami-Dade County, Miccosukee Indian Village takes you on a tour of the history, culture and way of life of the Indian tribe that lived and still exists in the heart of the Everglades. Many exhibitions and demonstrations make a visit to the Indian village a unique experience.

Visit Everglades City

Anyone who talks about the Everglades must also talk about Everglades City. The city is located near the southern tip of Florida, southeast of Naples and is known as the gateway to the 10,000 islands. You can for example take a tour through the mangrove tunnels, go fishing or hike through the Big Cypress National Reserve. An absolute highlight is the Everglades Seafood Festival, which gives an impression of how people looked and lived on the Florida Peninsula in the past. The festival usually takes place in February and is not only worth a visit for the delicious seafood that can be tasted during the event.

Worthwhile activities in Everglades National Park

  • To go biking: Cycling is permitted in Everglades National Park on the park's main roads, the Shark Valley Tram Road, the Old Ingraham Highway, the Long Pine Key Nature Trail, the Snake Bight Trail, and the Rowdy Bend Trail at Flamingo.
  • Boating: The Everglades is best explored on a boat tour. Each area here has its own characteristics and challenges. So you can definitely come back several times and always discover new sides of the Everglades. For example, tours are offered several times a day from Flamingo.
  • Canoeing and kayaking: Everglades National Park offers many opportunities to experience the natural beauty of the park through freshwater, mangrove forests, or the open waters of Florida Bay by canoe or kayak.
  • fishing: A third of Everglades National Park is covered in water, which makes it great for fishing. Fishing in fresh water requires a permit. About a dozen different fish can be caught here. Fish can be fished in salt water without a permit. Boats and fishing equipment can be rented in Flamingo. Lake Okeechobee is also great for fishing.
  • Geocaching: Geocaching is a cult and in the Everglades National Park it is also possible to go on a treasure hunt and find the hidden containers.
  • hike: There are several hiking options in Everglades National Park. For example various in the area around the former fishing village of Flamingo. The paths are between six and twenty kilometers long. The Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail are very nice. But Pine Land, the Pa-hay-okee viewing platform, the Mahagony Hammock and the Mangrove Trail are always worth a visit. A footpath leads to the Pa-hay-okee Overlook viewpoint through the middle of the ecologically significant landscape with its hardwood and cypress forests and to the viewing platform, which offers a fantastic view of the surroundings.

    The Anhinga Trail is located in the south of the national park. It is best to choose the Royal Palm Visitor Center for information about the flora and fauna in this part of the nature reserve. Ranger lessons are also held here at the visitor center twice a day. By the way, anhinga is the name of the American darter. Birds that you can often see here in this part of the marshland.

    While you move on the hiking trails through the beautiful mangrove forests, watch birds and enjoy the beautiful plants, you have the opportunity to get to know the habitat of the many species of birds and other animal species such as crocodiles and snakes better.

  • Participate in a ranger-led program: Programs led by rangers are regularly offered in the national park. Including, for example, boat and canoe tours. You can find an overview of the events here.
  • Swamp buggy tours: The Big Cypress National Preserve is home to alligators and many other species. However, most of the swamp is inaccessible by roads and paths. The swamp buggies offer an alternative, with which you can explore the area during a 3-hour guided tour.

Stay and eat in the Everglades

Apart from the possibility of camping, there are no overnight accommodations in the national park itself. However, there are numerous accommodations in the communities bordering the national park. For example, you should be able to easily find a hotel or other suitable accommodation in Homestead, Florida City, Miami, Everglades City, and Chokoloskee.

For hotels, apartments and vacation rentals near Everglades National Park, visit www.booking.com.

Camping in the Everglades

Camping in the USA? That's not a problem in the Everglades!

  • Long Pine Key Campground: The Long Pine Key Campground is located just a few kilometers from the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm and offers everything you need to experience a great vacation in nature. The parking spaces are allocated according to the “first come, first served” principle.
  • Flamingo Campground: The Flamingo Campground has 235 parking spaces and quite a lot of equipment. Reservations are possible and especially recommended in the winter season. In general, no reservation is required in the summer months. However, this time of year is not necessarily pleasant for visitors, which is why you should prefer the dry season in winter as the travel time.

Permits to camp in the wild can be obtained from the visitor centers. The fee for this is currently $ 15 per permit plus $ 2 per person per night. Camping is possible for a maximum of 14 days. All campers have to register.

With the dog in the national park

Pets are allowed into certain areas of the park.

Allowed:

  • Public roads
  • Roadside campsites and picnic areas
  • Terrain around public facilities and residential areas
  • Private boats

Not allowed:

  • Dirt roads and paths
  • Promenades
  • Shark Valley Tram Trail

The history of the Everglades and the National Park

The Calusa people, who worshiped the sun as their supreme deity, once lived in the area of ​​the Everglades. The people lived in mud houses and ate fish, turtles, plants and shellfish. Europeans first came to the area in 1513, but the Indians were able to resist the Spaniards for a long time. But when Florida passed from Spain to Great Britain in 1763, this meant the end of the Calusa and other Indians, who were later summarized under the term semioles.

The white settlers tried to drive the semioli away and deport them to reservations. A project that meant the deaths of many white soldiers and Indians. Some descendants of the Calusa still live today on the northern border of the Everglades National Park.

At the end of the 19th century, the South Florida coast was still largely uninhabited. Only the three small communities Chokoloskee, Cape Sable and Flamingo existed there. In 1910, only 49 people lived in Flamingo and Cape Sable. Oil prospectors and hunters came to the Everglades after the Tamiami Trail was built in 1928 and hunted alligators, great egrets and many other species. In addition, large parts of the Everglades were drained, which caused further damage to the sensitive ecosystem.

In order to protect at least part of the Everglades, the southernmost part of the Everglades was placed under protection through the creation of the Everglades National Park.

Visitor centers at the park entrances

There are several visitor centers in the national park where you can stock up on a map and get information. The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center is in front of the park entrance in the east of the park.

opening hours

Everglades National Park is open daily. Opening times may vary from one visitor center to another.

Entry to Everglades National Park

There is a fee to visit Everglades National Park.

The following fees are due:

  • Private vehicle or boat: $ 30
  • Motorcycle: $ 25
  • On foot / by bike / by rowboat: $ 15

The Everglades National Park Annual Pass allows repeat visits to the park for a period of 12 months from the date of purchase for $ 55.

In 2020, access to the national park is free of charge on the following days: January 20, April 18, August 25, September 26 and November 11.

getting there

The national park, with its prairies, forests and shallow waters that are ideal for boat tours, stretches from Naples in the west to the foothills of Miami in the east. In the south it is bounded by Florida Bay. Landing at Miami International Airport is about an hour's drive from the Miami Conservation Area, and about 45 minutes from Naples to the west to the Everglades City visitor center.

If you're coming from the east coast, the best route to take is the Tamiami Trail (Highway 41), which runs along the northern boundary of the park. Parking spaces are located near the visitor centers.

address

  • Everglades National Park
    40001 State Road
    9336 Homestead
    FL 33034-6733