Plan Your Trip to Everglades National Park

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Plan Your Trip to Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is one of the world’s most beautiful natural assets, so you’ll want to explore it while you’re in Miami. Opportunities to immerse yourself in the park’s 1.5 million acres abound. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip.

Getting to Everglades National Park

Familiarize yourself with the Everglades National Park map before you go. If you’re entering through the Homestead entrance, stop by the Tropical Everglades Visitor Association for more information about everything you can see and do in the Everglades. A free trolley also provides service to this entrance from downtown Homestead on weekends during the winter and early spring. 

Shark Valley Entrance

The Shark Valley entrance and visitor center is about an hour’s drive west of Downtown Miami. You can get there by driving west on Tamiami Trail (Southwest 8th Street/US Highway 41.) Use the Shark Valley Visitor Center address (36000 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33194) for GPS directions.

This part of the park has two short trails, an observation tower, bike rentals and tram tours. Call Shark Valley Tram Tours to make a reservation.

Homestead Entrance

The Homestead entrance to the park is about an hour or 90-minute drive from Downtown Miami, depending on traffic. Plug the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center address (40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034) into your GPS, or use the following directions: Take Florida’s Turnpike (Route 821) all the way south, then merge onto US 1 at Florida City. Turn right at the first light Palm Drive (State Road 9336/Southwest 344th Street) and follow the signs. 

If you have camping reservations at an established campground (as opposed to backcountry camping), use this entrance to find Long Pine Key. Birders will find abundant birdlife here, and on occasion, local artists exhibit their work at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center.

Keep going past the visitor center to get to the Royal Palm Information Station, where you can view wildlife or hike two of the park’s most popular trails: Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo trails. If you want to kayak, fish or enjoy primitive camping, continue past the entrance for 38 miles to the Flamingo Visitor Center area, where you’ll find a marina store, boat ramp, hiking and canoeing trails, and both RV and backcountry camping.

Best Time to Visit

In the Everglades, there are two main seasons: dry season and wet season.

Dry Season

The dry season runs from late November through April. Lower water levels make it easier to view wildlife, because the animals are attracted to the remaining water in the park. These cooler months attract more people, too, so you’ll need reservations for boat tours, campsites, and kayak and canoe rentals. Some amenities, such as bike rentals, don’t accept reservations, so arrive early.

Wet Season

The wet season (May through late November) is markedly less busy, but it comes with more mosquitos and rain. Nevertheless, if you visit the park in these months, you’ll see the Everglades in its full glory, with subtropical plants in bloom. Prepare accordingly – before heading out, call to make sure the area you want to visit remains open, as visitor centers or sections of the park may close after heavy rain. Do not attempt to visit in the wet season without mosquito repellent – in fact, any time of year, it’s wise to bring it.

Visiting Safely

When you step out of your car and onto the trails at Everglades National Park, you’re stepping into the wilderness. While some trails – Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo, for example – aren’t as remote as others, these tips will make your visit a safe one. 

  • Bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent with DEET.
  • Vultures, while not a threat to humans, enjoy ripping rubber from windshields, windshield wipers and sunroof seals. This happens most intensely at the Royal Palm Wildlife Viewing Center, where the park encourages visitors to use free tarps and bungees to cover their cars. 
  • If you use an on-demand car service, such as Uber or Lyft, arrange return transportation before you arrive at the park.
  • If you’re heading to a remote area of the park, sign in at the nearest visitor center or with a park ranger.
  • For backcountry or longer hikes, bring snacks and more water than you think you’ll need. 
  • Many areas of the park have no cell reception, so if you’re venturing off the beaten path, let a friend know where you’re headed and when they should expect a call or text from you.

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