If you are looking for a way to connect with nature, there is no better place to start than the Everglades. This vast, subtropical ecosystem is home to a huge variety of wildlife. You’ll see alligators, crocodiles, manatees, turtles and plenty of birds. Made up of nearly 2 million acres of protected land, it is a World Heritage Site and is one of the most diverse ecosystems worldwide. The best thing about this National Park is that it’s right in your own backyard!
- What To Do:
There are plenty of things to do in the Everglades! If activity is what you’re after, head to Shark Valley. It is a paved 15 mile long loop through mangroves and marsh. Adventure-seekers of all ages can enjoy their fair share of animal sightings. Gators and crocs can be spotted swimming and sunbathing within 10 feet of the trail! Enjoy a multitude of different birds, including herons, ibis, storks and even the occasional eagle. Watch out for turtles leisurely crossing the path. It is really a fascinating sight to behold and connects you deeply to Mother Earth.
Visitors have several options to explore the path. If walking the full 15 miles in the exposed sun is a bit ambitious, it is possible to walk part of the way. There is a motorized tram that one can take that runs the length of the trail and includes commentary.
Most, however, opt to either bring or rent bicycles. Bike rentals are available on site at the Visitor’s Center, though they are of the ‘cruiser’ variety. Call ahead to reserve. At mile marker 7, there is an observation tower (with restrooms!) which can be climbed for a spectacular view of the Everglades. There are also some small trails to explore on foot surrounding both the tower and Visitor’s Center.
- When To Go:
Dry season, which runs December – April, is best but also the most crowded. Summers are extremely humid and buggy, though you will likely have the park to yourself.
- What To Bring:
Pro Tip: Check out this site to purchase an America the Beautiful Pass which covers entrance, standard amenity fees and most parking fees at over 2,000 Recreational Parks nationwide, including the Everglades! So pack your pass, plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat and a camera and make your way to Shark Valley for a fun adventure!