Plan Your Trip to Everglades National Park

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

Getting to Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is massive and has three separate entrances. Which one you use depends on where you are, but two are on the park’s east side and are closest to Miami. The one at the Shark Valley Visitor Center is some 40 miles west of Downtown Miami. The park’s main entrance is about 50 miles south of Downtown Miami, in Homestead.

Whichever entrance you use, you will get there by car. No public transportation is available to the park or within it, although tram tours and airboat tours are available at the Shark Valley Visitor Center. The park is remote enough that anyone using a taxi or service such as Uber or Lyft needs to arrange in advance to be picked up. Some areas of the park lack cell coverage.

Before you go, familiarize yourself with the Everglades National Park map.

Shark Valley Tram
Explore the Everglades on the Shark Valley Tram Tour

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 St./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, tram tours and airboat tours. Contact Shark Valley Tram Tours to make a reservation.

gumbo limbo
See wildlife while hiking on one of the trails

Homestead Entrance

The Homestead entrance to the park is a 50-mile, 60- to 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, until it ends and merges into US 1 in Florida City. Turn right at the first light, Palm Drive (State Road 9336/Southwest 344th Street) and follow the signs.

The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center offers abundant birdlife and frequent exhibitions by local artists.

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: the 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.

Great Egrets in the Everglades
View wildlife during the dry season at Everglades National Park

The Best Time to Visit

The Everglades has two main seasons: one predominately dry season and one tending to be wet. It’s warm year-round here.

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 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) has markedly fewer people but more mosquitoes and rain. Nevertheless, visitors during these months see the Everglades in its full glory, with its many subtropical plants in bloom. Before heading out, call to make sure the area you want to visit is open, because visitor centers or sections of the park could be closed after a heavy rain. Mosquito repellent is a must in the wet season. In fact, it’s wise to bring it any time of year.

Accessibility

Everglades National Park offers accommodations for those with mobility, hearing, and vision difficulties.

Chickee Campground
Stay in a chickee over the water

Camping

The park has only two drive-in campgrounds, which are accessible from the Homestead entrance of the park: Long Pine Key Campground and Flamingo Campground. Both accommodate tents and RV's, with a limited number of group sites.

Reservations can be made with Everglades Guest Services, or by calling 1-855-708-2207. Advanced reservations are available on a rolling basis, three months before the start date.

Wilderness permits are required for all overnight camping in the backcountry, except when sleeping aboard boats. Reservations are not required for wilderness permits. Campers may pick up a permit in-person at the Gulf Coast or Flamingo visitor centers on a first-come, first-served basis within 24 hours of the start of the trip. Wilderness camping includes ground sites, beach sites and chickee sites, which are wooden platforms above the water that have roofs.

Anhinga Drying
Explore the wildlife from the Anhinga or Gumbo Limbo trails

Visiting Safely

When you walk 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 help keep you safe wherever you go in the park.

  • Bring sunscreen, and mosquito repellent containing DEET.
  • Vultures, while not a threat to humans, enjoy ripping rubber from windshields, windshield wipers and sunroof seals from cars. Particularly at the Royal Palm Wildlife Viewing Center, the park encourages visitors to use free tarps and bungees provided there 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.
  • Many areas of the park have no cell reception, so if you’re venturing off the beaten path into the backcountry or on a more remote trail, let a park ranger or a friend know where you’re headed and when they should expect a call or text from you.
  • For backcountry or longer hikes, bring snacks and more water than you think you’ll need.
Everglades Deer
Look for white-tailed deer in the Everglades

There's An App For That

The National Park Service offers an app, available for iOS and Android devices, with a lot of information about the Everglades National Park and the rest of the nation’s national parks.

A Stop Along The Way

If you’re heading to the Homestead entrance, stop by the visitor center at the Tropical Everglades Visitor Association in Florida City for information about everything you can see and do in the Everglades area.

Things To Do Nearby

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