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By: Christian Portilla

Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wetland ecosystem in North America, offers amazing outdoor adventures within an hour’s drive of Downtown Miami. It’s largely a wilderness but offers accessible facilities, services and programs to ensure that everyone can experience its wonders.

Of course, service dogs are permitted anywhere visitors can go in the park, including campgrounds and trails.

Flamingo Visitor
You can request a wheelchair at the Flamingo Visitor Center

Access for Visitors with Mobility Challenges

Visitors with impaired mobility who aren’t traveling with their own wheelchair can request one on a first-come, first-served basis at the three official visitor centers most convenient to the Miami area: the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, Flamingo Visitor Center and Shark Valley Visitor Center.

The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center at the main entrance to the park, in Homestead, has clearly marked van-accessible parking spaces and a curb ramp from the parking lot to the building. The center has automatic swinging doors operated by a wall switch.

At the nearby Royal Palm Visitor Center, the parking lot has clearly marked van-accessible parking spaces and a curb ramp and barrier-free path to the trailheads.

The Shark Valley Visitor Center, at the park entrance off of Tamiami Trail, also has van-accessible parking spaces and a curb ramp from the parking lot.

Anhinga Trail
Explore the Everglades on the accessible Anhinga Trail

Trails in Everglades National Park that have paved and boardwalk surfaces allowing exploration by wheelchair are the Anhinga, the Gumbo Limbo, the Pineland, the Pa-hay-okee Overlook, the Mahogany Hammock, the West Lake and Bobcat Boardwalk trails. All of these trails or boardwalks are less than three-quarters of a mile long.

Other trails at Long Pine Key and Flamingo used to be two-track roads. These may be passable, depending on the season.

Shark Valley Tram
Take a Shark Valley Tram Tour, which has wheelchair ramps

Accessible Tours

Many of the concession-led boat tours from Flamingo and Gulf Coast are wheelchair accessible.

The two-hour Shark Valley Tram Tour, one of the most popular visitor experiences in Everglades National Park, is accessible because the open-air vehicles have ramps for wheelchairs. The tour includes a stop at a 70-foot-high observation tower, which has a very long, somewhat steep ramp that allows access for wheelchairs. Visitors in non-motorized wheelchairs, however, will likely need help to ascend the ramp. Once at the top, they will take in a view of the park for 20 miles in all directions.

Pearl Bay
Stay at one of the accessible campsites

Camping

The Long Pine Key and Flamingo front-country campgrounds have accessible drive-to campsites with wheelchair-accessible restrooms and parking lots with clearly marked van-accessible parking spaces.

There is one backcountry campsite that is accessible to visitors with mobility impairments. But be aware that the Pearl Bay chickee is about a four-hour canoe trip from the main park road. It has handrails, a canoe dock, and an accessible chemical toilet. The campsite accommodates six people for one night.

Anhinga Drying
View the wildlife on a ranger-led interpretive tour

Accommodations for Visitors with Hearing Impairment

Visitors with hearing challenges can enjoy captioned films at the Ernest F. Coe and Shark Valley visitor centers.

Assistive Listening Devices are available by request for ranger-led interpretive programs as well as boat and tram tours. Visitor information through TDD is available at 305-242-7740.

Arrangements for Visitors with Vision Impairment

The Shark Valley and Ernest F. Coe visitor centers offer a touch table. Wildlife displays include 3-D models of alligator backs, eggs and tails, as well as other animals.

Signs are available in braille at the Shark Valley and Ernest F. Coe visitor centers, and the Flamingo Visitor Center includes a museum exhibit with audio displays as well as print.

For More Information

For additional information about park accessibility, call 305-242-7700.

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