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The Everglades encompasses an area of marshland taking up most of the south of Florida. It is a popular tourist destination and the park plays a unique part in local folklore, with legends of moon shiners, smugglers and alligators. The Everglades National Park takes up much of the region. It protects the southern 20% of the original Everglades. In the United States, it is the largest subtropical wilderness, the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River, and is visited on average by one million people each year. It is the third-largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. It has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists.
Everglades National Park covers 6,110 km2, throughout Dade, Monroe, and Collier counties in Florida. The Everglades are a subtropical wetland, and because of that most of the land is very flat and not high above sea-level. The elevation typically ranges from 0 2.4 metres above sea level, but a Calusa-built shell mound on the Gulf Coast rises 6.1 metres above sea level.
The Everglades, like the rest of (southern) Florida has a warm and humid subtropical climate. The warmest season lasts from May to October when temperatures frequently hit more than 30 °C while nights are balmy and mostly around or above 20 °C. Temperatures and humidity combined can feel oppressive though and it's not the best time for a visit as this is also the season when most of the rain falls and hurricanes may strike Florida as well. From November onwards things start to improve and the dry season lasts into May. Although temperatures drop and it might not always be beach weather, this is a good time for visiting the park.
Everglades National park is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Ernest Coe Visitor Center is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm. between mid-April and mid-December. The hours of operation between mid-December through mid-April are 8:00am to 5:00pm. The main entrance (Homestead/Florida City), is open 24 hours a day. Shark Valley entrance off of Tamiami Trail/US 41, is open daily from 8:30am to 6:00pm.
Gulf Coast entrance south of the intersection of Tamiami Trail/US 41 and Route 29, is open 24 hours.
The nearest (international) airport is at Miami. Naples offers some flights as well.
Several routes run into and across the Everglades. Interstate-75 runs east-west from Fort Lauderdale to the western coast around Naples, but this is not the best route to take, unless you are in hurry. It also runs a bit too much to the north to actually enjoy the natural surroundings. A much better alternative is route 90 that crosses the Everglades much more to the south. To add, it also crosses the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. The road starts just west of Miami.
Driving through the park can be an exciting experience. Try and go on a week day during work hours so it isn't busy, and keep an eye out for crocodiles sunning themselves on the tarmac! Also be aware that when you stop-off at one of the designated rest-areas, and take a walk on the wooden boardwalks over the marshes, you will get swarmed by mosquitos.
From the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, there are trips by boat into the 10,000 islands area. From Flamingo, there are trips almost every hour that last about 1 hour and 45 minutes and travel up the Everglades to a lake and back. The traditional airboat tours are not available inside the park itself, but are on offer on the road between Miami and Naples. One of the oldest and best is at Coopertown.
There are few options inside the park, though there is a decent snack restaurant at Flamingo, opening around 11:00am daily.
At visitor centers and Flamingo there are usually some shops to buy drinks.
There is a wide range of accommodation options in towns and cities at the edges of the park, including Everglades City, Naples, Florida City and Homestead.
|Everglades Hostel & Tours||20 Southwest Second Ave Everglades||Hostel||-|
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