There’s no national park quite like the Florida Everglades. The largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, this breathtaking park sprawls over 1.2 million acres and is home to five different types of habitat that encompass a wetland, swamp, mangroves, lake, river and prairie. Everglades National Park has been declared a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve and Wetland of International Importance. Located not far from Miami, you can visit it on a day trip or spend several days exploring its many natural wonders.everglades mangroves

Best Time to Visit the Everglades

The Everglades National Park is open year round under normal circumstances. It’s hot and humid from April through October making it more challenging to explore during late spring and summer. From November through March, the weather cools down, with late fall and winter the ideal time to visit.

What to See in the Everglades

Home to numerous national preserves, there’s lots to see and do in the Everglades. Here are some top regions you won’t want to miss.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Located about 45 miles west of Miami along the Tamiami Trail, Big Cypress National Preserve spans 720,000 acres and is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. It’s a popular spot for alligators who line the canal banks and reign in the swamp, particularly along the 25-mile Loop Road that leads off the main highway into the deep Everglades.everglades alligator

Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp

Journey into the heart of the western Everglades and discover the largest stand of old-growth cypress trees on the planet in the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. These living giants tower more than 135 feet (41 meters) in height and nearly 40 feet (12 meters)in circumference. This ruggedly beautiful ecosystem is also home to hundreds of alligators, otters, white-tailed deer, red-bellied turtles, wading birds and songbirds. Take a stroll along the 2.5-mile-long boardwalk through the beautiful Corkscrew wilderness for an unforgettable experience.

Fakahatchee Strand

Florida’s largest state park, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve spans 120 square miles and is home to rare flora and fauna. More native orchid species, including the rare Ghost Orchid, grow in this wilderness than anywhere else in the United States. Rare species such as the American crocodile and West Indian manatee live in the waterways to the south, while Florida black bears, Everglades mink and elusive Florida panthers inhabit other regions of the park. While here, be sure to enjoy a swamp walk to experience Fakahatchee Strand’s unique ecosystem.Everglades Fakahatchee Strand panther sign

Ten Thousand Islands

Enjoy the tranquil wilderness of Florida Bay on a boat cruise through the 35,000-acre Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The name is a misnomer but the area is home to a couple hundred scenic keys. Experience twisting through channels with the largest mangrove forests in North America.Everglades Ten Thousand Islands sunset

Best Ways to See the Everglades

There are many boardwalks and walkways for taking scenic strolls through the Everglades. The Anhinga Trail is one of the most popular and goes through a 0.8 mile (1.3 km) paved and boardwalk trail through a small section of wetlands. Or, take a long stroll along the 15-mile (24 km) paved trail that twists past small creeks and a tropical forest in Shark Valley.everglades airboat

No visit to the Everglades is complete without a guided airboat tour. Explore this unique ecosystem gliding through the water and encounter breathtaking panoramic views with alligators, native flora and fauna, as well as other exotic wildlife in their natural habitat. For an extra day of adventure, try an airboat tour that also includes a cruise along Biscayne Bay for a memorable view of Miami.

For more trip ideas and things to do in the South, click here.

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