Everglades National Park: Florida’s Fragile Wilderness
Florida Travel Guide to Everglades National Park
The largest subtropical wilderness in the United States is so globally significant that it is a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve and Wetland of International Importance. From mangrove and coastal lowlands to hardwood hammock and freshwater slough, there are nine distinct habitats within the park.
A delicate balance
Invasive species, pollution, water management from burgeoning development and agriculture all place threats on the once pristine wilderness and water quality of the Everglades. At the same time, it is home to more than a dozen endangered wildlife, including the green turtle, wood stork and Florida panther.
Exploring the Park
With approximately 1.5 million acres, it’s difficult to decide where to start exploring! Travel to one of the five park visitor centers and let them be your guide to this unique Florida ecosystem: Flamingo, Ernest Coe, Shark Valley, Gulf Coast and Chekika. Each offer unique gateways and activities for the park, from hiking and bike trails to boat or tram tours and bicycle or canoe rentals. The short Anhinga Trail, near the Ernest Coe Visitor Center, is a great starting point where visitors can see red-bellied turtles basking in the sun, alligators submerged in the water or anhingas plunging for food.
Birds and more Birds!
More than 350 bird species are in the park, among them egrets, ibises, herons, storks and osprey. One of the best places to view birds is on the 15 mile paved stretch in Shark Valley – explore by foot, bicycle or guided tram tour.
The Everglades once stretched from central Florida’s Lake Okeechobee right to Florida Bay – only 25% of the Everglades remains.
What’s your favorite activity in the Everglades?