DISCOVER THE EVERGLADES
Updated: May 8, 2020
The Everglades National Park is one of the most unique ecosystems in the country. It’s also one of the most exciting places in South Florida to explore. These lush subtropical wetlands occupy 1.5 million acres of sawgrass prairies, hardwood hammocks, saltwater marshes, and a diverse population of wildlife that includes bald eagles, white-tailed deer, and of course the Florida alligator.
The Everglades is home to many threatened or protected specie: Florida panthers, American crocodiles, Green Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles, Leatherback and Loggerhead Turtles and Eastern Indigo Snakes, two threatened swallowtail butterfly species–just to name a few! The Everglades provides a safe haven to more than 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals and 50 species of reptiles.
Here is a quick list of must-see in the Everglades:
SHARK VALLEY 15-MILE LOOP, HOME TO A TERRIFIC BIKE TRAIL AND ABUNDANT WILDLIFE
Discover the Everglades National Park along Shark Valley 15-mile paved loop which you can explore by foot, bicycle or tram tour guided by a park ranger or naturalist. This tour is the perfect way to learn about the plants, animals and history of the Everglades. You can bring your own or rent a bike. Don’t be surprised if you see an alligator sun tanning at the side of the trail but don’t get too close either! The best thing is a 65-foot observation tower midway through the trail that will give an amazing 360-view at the luxuriant vegetation.
AIRBOAT TOUR THE ORIGINAL EVERGLADES
Another fun way to get up close and personal with the Everglades is on an airboat ride. On your drive back to Miami from Shark Valley, you’ll notice a number of airboat concessioners on Highway 41. Head to Coopertown, the Everglades’ original airboat outfit. These flat-bottomed vessels propelled by an enormous fan skim across the sawgrass prairies of the Shark River Slough where you’ll spy alligators, turtles, and tropical birds. Once back onshore, learn more about Everglades snakes, turtles, and alligators in their exotic animal exhibit. You can even hold a baby alligator.
MICCOSUKEE INDIAN VILLAGE HISTORIC RESERVE & RESORT/CASION
The Miccosukee Indian Village is a historic reservation and home to a resort, casino and Indian Village Museum where you will learn about the history of the tribe and the Everglades. Embark on a guided airboat tour, witness wildlife, learn about the tribe’s doll-making, beadwork, patchwork and basket weaving crafts. Visitors can also witness a wild alligator demonstration. A tour will take you to an authentic hammock-style Miccosukee Indian camp, and teach you about the tribe’s culture, lifestyle and history. No tour is complete without a stop by the gift shop and a sampling of the tribe’s traditional cuisine.
BIG CYPRESS NATIONAL RESERVE
Along the Tamiami Trail in the 720,000-acre wilderness of Big Cypress National preserve, alligators line the canal banks like scaly, cold-blooded Lincoln logs. The reptiles reign in the swamp, particularly along the 25-mile Loop Road that leads off the main highway into the deep Everglades. It’s the size of Rhode Island, and essential to the Everglades’ health. Beginning in hardwood hammocks, it flows down to the pinelands, across the prairies, into the cypress swamps, mixes with the waters of the estuaries, and finally escapes to the Gulf of Mexico. Take a guided walk, attend a talk, explore the interpretive program or participate in a campfire program. It’s the one place you can see cypress, mangroves, alligators and possibly a Florida panther, in the same day.