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By: Shayne Benowitz

What better way to make the most of your time in the tropical wilderness of Everglades National Park than with an expert tour guide? Discover a truly unique ecosystem – 1.5 million acres of sawgrass prairies, hardwood hammocks and saltwater marshes – through a variety of unforgettable tours. Hop on an airboat and be amazed as you spot alligators and colorful migratory birds. Learn about what makes the Everglades unique during a naturalist-led walking tour. Or improve your photography skills on a specialized, one-on-one excursion through mangrove forests.

Everglades Alligator on a log
Guided Everglades tours bring visitors close to alligator habitats.

Airboat Tours

Getting around Florida’s Everglades – known as the “River of Grass” – can be challenging because the grass covers water and low-lying land. Enter the airboat: a flat-bottomed vessel pushed through the shallow, marshy waters by a giant, caged propellor mounted in the air on the boat’s stern. Airboats can navigate extremely shallow waters and venture where traditional boats can’t. They’re also a really exciting ride.

The Everglades area has a number of airboat tour operators, including several on US Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail) on the way to the Shark Valley Visitor Center. Book a charter with Coopertown Everglades Airboat Tour & Restaurant, Miccosukee Indian Village or Everglades Safari Park. Skimming across the Shark River Slough and scouting for alligators, turtles and tropical birds is an unforgettable experience. Back on shore, tour guides continue the interactive experience with exhibits about snakes, turtles, alligators and other Everglades inhabitants.

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

Shark Valley Guided Tours

Visit Shark Valley to witness what the Everglades looked like hundreds of years ago. You won’t see sharks in the shallow waters here, but the area is fed by the nearby Shark River and Little Shark River, which are home to many shark species. Explore the heart of the area’s freshwater marsh on a two-hour tram tour led by a park ranger or naturalist from Everglades National Park. The tour covers a 15-mile loop in an open-air vehicle, allowing for close-up views of alligators, tropical birds and lush scenery (get those cameras ready). Midway through the loop, tram passengers can hop out to climb a 70-foot-tall observation tower, which offers panoramic views of Shark Valley’s sawgrass marshes.

Kayak through mangroves to explore the unique ecosystem of the Everglades.

Flamingo Marina Boat Tours

Grab your sun hat and sunglasses and get ready for an entertaining and educational boat tour departing from Flamingo Marina. The 90-minute Backcountry Boat Tour travels up the Buttonwood Canal through Coot Bay and Tarpon Creek, and into the mouth of Whitewater Bay. Keep an eye out – you may spot manatees, dolphins and sea turtles among the mangroves. Check out Flamingo Adventures and Everglades Adventure Tours for a wide array of boat tours, as well as canoe and kayak rentals.

Bird in Everglades
See some of the area’s more than 300 species of birds, such as the distinctive double-breasted cormorant, on a guided photography tour.

Birding & Photography Tours

The Florida Everglades offers sights not found anywhere else. Capture those views forever with your own photos during a private photography tour by Everglades Area Tours. Via tandem kayak or canoe, a guide paddles with travelers through mangrove tunnels, tidal creeks and forests, allowing photographers front-row access to birds, alligators, river otters and stunning plant life. The tour group also offers private walking tours to photograph popular birding areas. Experienced guides know the best nesting and breeding sites, giving photographers ample one-on-one time to learn all about the ecosystem’s inhabitants and capture memories to last a lifetime.

Wildlife in the Everglades
Front-row access to birds

Guided Tour of Royal Palm, Nike Missile Site, Pa-Hay-Okee and More

On this experience led by the Everglades National Park Institute, you can tour the park’s most exciting landmarks with an on-site naturalist guide from the comfort of your own car. A maximum of five vehicles is allowed per tour. The caravan stops at the Royal Palm District, which includes a former Nike Missile Site, at the Pa-hay-okee Overlook and the Mahogany Hammock.

You can get out of your car at each stop to walk around, see wildlife and hear commentary from your guide.

The Nike Missile Site offers a fascinating glimpse into Cold War history. It was built shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis to position U.S. air defenses against possible attacks and it hasn’t been changed since it was decommissioned in 1979.

How To Get There

As you plan your trip to the Florida Everglades, use this guide to help you navigate your way to new adventures.

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