National Parks in Florida

Wood stork on small cypress tree in Everglades National Park

A wood stork surveys the realm in Everglades National Park

There are three National Parks in Florida, not including National Seashores, National Monuments, and other such places administered by the National Park Service. Everglades, Biscayne, and Dry Tortugas are designated National Parks. Big Cypress, a National Preserve, is included here because in many ways, it's actually a part of the Everglades itself.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park Entrance Monument

The largest of the National Parks in Florida is Everglades, which is also the third largest national park in the entire lower 48 of the United States. Only Death Valley and Yellowstone are larger. There are three official park entrances: 1) Florida City, 2) Shark Valley, and 3) Everglades City. The Florida City entrance puts you on the main park road--well-maintained and paved--from the Ernest F Coe Visitor Center near the entrance to Flamingo, a total of 38 miles. Flamingo is as far south as you can go on the U.S. mainland (not counting the Keys)without getting your feet wet. Shark Valley is located along U.S. Highway 41, and Everglades City is found just south of Naples, and is the jumping off point to the Ten Thousand Islands.

Most people visit the Park in the winter, dry season. But check here for a discussion on the best time to visit Everglades National Park. This site's information about Everglades National Park is divided into three sections: 1)The Everglades Story, which lets you in on why this place is so special, 2)things to do, for front-country visitors, and 3) things to do, for backcountry visitors.

The Everglades Story

For too long the true value of the Everglades was obscured by ignorance. During much of the twentieth century, it was seen either as useless swampland or a collection of resources to be harvested for short-term gain. But a few pioneers, ahead of their time, recognized the timeless and intrinsic value of the place for all of us. They knew the real story of this unique territory. To fully appreciate the Park's value, it helps to know the Everglades National Park story.

Things to do in Everglades National Park

There is an abundance of official information on the web about Everglades National Park, and I won't try to repeat all that good info here. Instead, in the hopes it will be helpful, I'll give you my own unofficial view of things, gathered from research and first-hand experience. I've been a front-country car-touring visitor, and I've prowled the back-country. My purpose on these pages about Everglades is to help you get the most out of your visit to the park. Regardless of whatever information I provide, however, be sure to check official sources for current conditions, regulations, and other information you may need to have a successful visit to the Park.

For our purposes here, let's divide park visitors into two main categories: 1) front-country visitors, and 2) backcountry visitors. Both front-country and backcountry visitors may be either day-trippers or campers.

Things to do for front-country visitors

Front-country visitors generally remain along roadways, small side trails, and in the more established areas of the park. If they camp, they camp in one of the two main established campgrounds: Long Pine Key near the northern entrance at Florida City, or Flamingo at the southern end of the park. Now, for you front-country visitors let's take a virtual tour of the Park. Find your entrance point and begin.

FLORIDA CITY FLORIDA CITY N 25 deg 23 min 43 sec, W 080 deg 35 min 00 sec
The 38-mile tour from the Florida City entrance to Flamingo is, of necessity, divided into three parts. As the author, I think your best bet is to start at part 1 and go through from there. But, hey, this is the wild, wild web, and you can jump around as you wish.

1) Things to do in Everglades National park for front-country visitors entering from Florida City, part 1

2) Things to do in Everglades National Park for front-country visitors entering from Florida City, part 2

3) Things to do in Everglades National Park for front-country visitors entering from Florida City, part 3

SHARK VALLEY N 25 deg 45 min 42 sec, W 080 deg 45 min 59 sec

Get the best views of the great River of Grass here at Shark Valley. EVERGLADES CITY N 25 deg 50 min 49 sec, W 081 deg, 23 min 07 sec

Two boat tours are provided here at the jumping-off point to the Ten Thousand Islands

Things to do for backcountry visitors

Backcountry visitors usually remain out at least overnight, sometimes a week or more, but they can also be day-trippers--most notably, fishermen. They sometimes take their motorboats to their fishing spots deep in the backcountry, often returning a few hours later. There's lots to see and do in Everglades National Park backcountry You can always--weather and conditions permitting, of course-- go sailing out of Flamingo. Check out this sailing trip from Flamingo to Marathon, in the Florida Keys.

Besides the Park's backcountry waterways, there are also the Pineland trails for hiking. Here's the Park Service map of the Pineland Trails

Biscayne National Park

Speaking as a certified water rat, a lover of all things aquatic, Biscayne National Park could get to be one of my favorite playgrounds. Over 95% of the Park is underwater, normally beautifully clear water at that. If these things appeal to you, it could be one of your favorite places too. Click here, and come with me to find out more...

Big Cypress National Preserve

Check out this backpacking trip across the Big Cypress.

Dry Tortugas National Park

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