The Ultimate Guide: Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park located in Southwest Florida is one of the most biodiverse National Parks in the Nation. With 1.5 million acres to explore you will have the opportunity to see countless species of wildlife. Wedged between the Gulf of Mexico and Miami’s growing population, the Everglades provides refuge to animals such as the Florida Alligator, several species of birds, and the elusive Florida Panther. Visitors will have three entrances to visit Florida’s most famous National Park. All of which will offer a different experience and are located several hours apart. Conveniently, there is an Everglades Park visitors center located at each of these entrances where any of your park-related questions can be answered. There are four visitor centers in the entire park.

Chapter 1: History Of Everglades National Park / General Overview

The park has a two-sided history that shows just how much humans can have an impact on the landscape. The park once flowed over 11,000 square miles or 704,000 acres. Today it has been confined to a mere portion of what it once was. Due to early colonial settlers as well as developers, the land began to change rapidly. This delicately balanced ecosystem of marshes, forested uplands, and ponds was now becoming farmland. As humans pushed forward the landscape suffered. Hunting was also a threat to the wildlife. In fact, the hunting of the Florida alligator reached its peak in 1967, which is when conservationists had to step in and place them on the endangered list. Since then, the alligator has made a recovery and is no longer an endangered species.

The People Who Helped Create Everglades National Park

Several groups helped shape the Everglades, such as Native Americans, “Gladesmen”, and several conservationists. In 1513, the Spanish arrived in the Everglades but for years before that, the Calusa Indians lived in harmony with the ecosystem. Since 1,000 B.C. the Indians lived off the land with little to no known detrimental effects to the ecosystem. Unfortunately, by the early 1700s, most of the Calusa Indian population had been decimated by diseases brought by Spanish settlers. As white settlers kept pushing forward, several Indian tribes such as the Seminole and Miccosukee Indians were forced further south. They created what was known as the Creek federation.

As these white settlers (developers) began developing the park, it began to change drastically. These settlers viewed Everglades National Park as a wasteland of swamps and marshes that needed to be converted into something “useful”. So, by the 1800s, this mentality had taken hold and there were several projects in the works to drain the swampland. Fortunately, the resilient wildlife and ecosystem of the area was not completely destroyed and was able to sustain itself. This is only a fraction of the history that went into creating the Everglades. In subsequent sections, we will dive more in-depth and point to resources that will help you understand the full scope of the history of this park.

Why Visit Everglades National Park Florida

There are several reasons one might choose to visit the Everglades in SouthWest Florida. From the beautiful landscape to the rich history, there is plenty to do and see when visiting this National Park. There is something for the entire family when visiting the Everglades. As a South Florida native myself I can vouch for the beauty, tranquility, and history the park has to offer. This article will cover the most popular activities, trails, and areas within the park. The next section serves as your quick guide to some of these activities.


Everglades National Park Boast an incredible 29 trails for you to explore. These range in difficulty from easy-moderate, making it the perfect National park to bring the family to. With so many fun and easy-to-do trails you can spend hours exploring the park. If you’re a first-time visitor we suggest visiting these three trails:

  • Shark Valley Tram Trail – A long but smooth 15.8-mile trail that will roughly take 4 and a half hours to complete. You will also have the option to bike or take a guided tram through the trail.
  • Gumbo Limbo Trail – Explore beautiful flora and fauna as you explore this beautiful trail. A short, family-friendly half-mile trail that is completely paved and nice to walk on.
  • Anhinga Trail – This is a must-do for any wildlife lovers. From the safety of the paved trail you can see birds, turtles, and even alligators. It takes 15 minutes to complete this trail.

Activities Within Everglades National Park

The park is full of adventures and fun for the whole family. There is no shortage of activities as this is the third-largest National Park in the lower 48 States. Some of the most popular activities include kayaking, canoeing, airboat rides, fresh and saltwater fishing, and camping. Just make sure you bring mosquito repellant and sunscreen as Florida is notoriously hot during the summer months.

Popular Spots

Everglades National Park has several spots that are worth visiting. As you read through the article you will be able to decide which spots you wish to visit during your stay. The team at rvResortScout has complied a short list of their favorite spots. These spots are some of the most fun, wildlife-active, and beautiful spots the park has to offer.

  • Anhinga Trail – As mentioned before this beautiful trail is one of the best spots to spot wildlife in the Everglades.
  • Ranger Guided Canoe Tour – Take a ranger guided tour through the Everglades. The tour guides are spectacular, and you’ll learn things about the park that you simply wouldn’t have otherwise. Be sure to reserve a trip before heading out. To reserve one, call (239) 695-2945 for the park rangers in Flamingo. Call (239) 695-3311 for the Gulf Coast Park rangers.
  • Airboat Ride Through The Everglades – Take one of the guided tours through the Everglades on an airboat. Cruise through the Everglades at a modest speed that won’t scare the kids.

When You Should Visit the Everglades

The weather in Everglades National Park plays a large role in determining when you should visit. Florida is a temperamental state when it comes to the weather. You could have complete sunshine and not a cloud in the sky at 8 AM and by 12 PM the sky could look as if a hurricane was about to make landfall. Because of this, it is imperative that you plan your trip accordingly.

Winter is generally the best time to visit Everglades National Park. Not only is the weather better but the wildlife is easier to spot. As watering holes dry up and the overall water levels are lower, wildlife tends to congregate in the remaining bodies of water.

Word of Caution: Always treat wildlife with respect. Give any animals you come across its space and never turn your back on a wild animal. Learn to read animal behavior. For example, if an animal is tense, coiling its body, or acting aggressively in any way it is best that you back away and give the animal the space it commands. Most importantly, do not feed the wildlife. This creates bad habits and can cause animals such as crocodiles and alligators to attack people.

Chapter 2: Map Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park Florida Map
Everglades Map

This map has all the most important features of the park. You can identify the three main Everglades visitor centers, several trails, and campgrounds.

Apps To Help Navigate The Park

One of the best ways to traverse National Parks is to use apps. Well-built apps will have information on the park, how to hike certain trails, and more. The NPS app will be your go-to guide when inside the park.

  • The NPS App – The official National Park services app is a great way to explore any National Park within the United States. This app offers interactive maps, tours of park places, on-the-ground information, and everything you will need to help plan your trip to the National Park.

Paper Maps of Everglades National Park

Purchasing a paper map of the park can make traveling throughout the park much easier. You will not always have service within the park and a paper map can help you keep track of where you are. It is also a safety blanket if you were to get lost. Purchasing the map can be done through Amazon or the mapshop for roughly $15. Enjoy benefits such as:

  • Mark your favorite spots
  • Draw out your journey through the park
  • Plan and visualize trails
  • Authentic experience of our earliest explorers
  • Toss the tech and get back to our roots

These maps can also often be bought within the Everglades Visitor centers. Call ahead to ensure they have some available if you are looking to purchase one.

Chapter 3: Essentials

Knowing the essentials before journeying into Everglades National Park can save you time, money, and lead to an overall more enjoyable trip. This chapter will focus on general park information, how to get there, the best methods of travel within the park, the rules and regulations, the visitor center, and any services the park may offer.

Park Information

The Everglades spans across 1.5 million acres in the Southern part of Florida. This gorgeous park is home to a vast diversity of both wildlife and plant life. Visiting this park during different times of the year can offer two totally different experiences. The two distinct seasons include the wet season and the dry season. The wet season lasts from May to November and the dry season spans from December to April. It is often easier to spot wildlife during the dry season as many of the animals congregate in the remaining bodies of water. During the rainy season many of the ranger-led programs are halted due to low visibility while it is raining.

Please note that there are fees for entering Everglades National Park. Here is a quick breakdown of the fees:

  • Pedestrian / Cyclist / Paddle craft: $15/per person entrance fee – admits one adult and is good for the next seven days
  • Motorcycle: $25 entrance fee – good for the next seven days
  • Private Vehicle or Vessel: $30 entrance fee – good for the next seven days
  • Non-commercial buses or vans: $15/per person – must be 16 or fewer people; this includes groups such as scouts, church groups, and youth groups.
  • Annual Pass: $55/year – come as many times as you want for a whole year

Getting To The Everglades

This large subtropical park has three distinct entrances to the park. All of which are located in different cities across Southwest Florida. They are located in Homestead (main entrance), The Greater Miami Area, and also Naples. All of these entrances are located near an Everglades National Park visitor center which makes it easy to learn more about the park the second you enter. For the most accurate directions you can find them on the NPS webpage.

Getting Around The Park

Traveling through the Everglades can be done by boat / other watercraft or on land via walking, biking, hiking, or driving through the park. Each of these means of transportation offer a slightly different view of the park and everything it has to offer. So feel free to try them all out. As a first time visitor we suggest booking an airboat ride with one of the several reputable companies within the park. They have some amazing deals and even offer package deals that include entrance to the park. Depending on which area of the park you enter through, will determine the range of activities you can explore within the park. As a general rule of thumb, visit the visitor center to find out about all the activities that are going on in the park that day.

Rules & Regulations: Everglades National Park

There are a few rules you need to follow while visiting the National Park. Some of these rules are basic rules you will find in any National Park you visit. These rules include no littering, not destroying the ecosystem, and following all posted signs. To gain a better understanding of all the rules and regulations, read “Follow Everglades Park Rules to Keep the Park Safe”. This extremely informative and detailed article will give you a breakdown of all the rules and why it is important that you follow them.

Everglades National Park Visitor Center

The Everglades, unlike many other National Parks, has four visitor centers located throughout the park. This allows for ease of access and an easy-to-find visitor center no matter where you enter the park. The four visitor centers are:

  • Gulf Coast Visitor Center – Located at 815 Oyster Bar Lane Everglades City, Florida 34139. Their phone number is (239) 695-3311. This is the best way to explore Ten Thousand Islands, which is a maze of mangroves and waterways that can only be explored by boat.
  • Earnest F. COE Visitor Center – Located at 40001 State Road 9336 Homestead, FL 33034. Their phone number is 305-242-7700. This is the main entrance to the Everglades and is open 365 days a year. You can find several educational displays, a bookstore, and a shop to buy insect repellant and other necessities.
  • Chekika – Day Use Area – Unfortunately due to cuts in budget insufficient resources this area is no longer maintained (it has been indefinitely closed). You can still access it through special permits, but it offers no amenities. It is located at 24200 SW 160th Street. Miami, FL 33187.
  • Shark Valley Visitor Center – Located at 36000 SW 8th Street Miami, Florida 33194. Their phone number is (305) 221-8776. There is a beautiful tram and observation tower located near this visitor center. The 15-mile paved bicycle/tram road offers amazing views of the Everglades and also has restrooms located next to the Observation tower at the 7-mile point.

Services Offered In Everglades National Park Miami

The Everglades Park team does its best to make the park accessible to everyone regardless of their needs. All the main visitor centers offer paved wheelchair paths, hearing assistance, and allow service animals to assist their humans. For a complete breakdown of how the NPS as well as the Everglades are becoming more accessible, visit their accessibility page.

Chapter 4: Things You Need to Know

If you plan on visiting the Everglades there are a few things you need to know before entering the park. These “things” include what to pack, how much food and water you will need, the correct gear to bring, what type of animals are in the area, and more. We will cover each of these sections and by the end you should be comfortable and ready to enjoy a trip into the Everglades.

What to Pack

The most common question we get asked about any National Park is: What should I pack? The reality is this answer varies from person to person. It also depends on how long you will be in the park, what activities you will be doing, your fitness and experience level. Therefore, this list we have crafted may not suit everyone. You may require additional items beyond those listed here. But in general these items are the must-haves when visiting the park.

  • Water – 2 cups per hour of hiking
  • Food – It depends on the trip you are taking, but for a day hike, it is advisable to bring along a few protein bars and other snacks.
  • Phone – Having a reliable source of communication is always important.
  • Insect Repellant – A strong insect repellant is highly advisable
  • Sunscreen – 30 + SPF that can stay on in the event of rain. It gets extremely sunny in Florida so make sure to pack sunscreen.
  • Correct Clothing – We suggest breathable long sleeves and long pants in order to stay protected from insects.
  • Hat and Sunglasses – Choose your favorite hat and sunglasses to walk around in style and stay protected from the hot Florida sun.
  • Cash / Credit / Debit cards – Always good to have multiple forms of payment
  • Hiking shoes – Hiking shoes or comfortable walking shoes are advised.
  • Backpack – A medium-sized backpack that can carry your food, water, insect repellant, and other small items.
  • Poncho – Protection from the rain. Random rain showers are a common occurrence in Florida.

Animals In The Area

There are several species of animals that call the Everglades their home. Here is a list of the most commonly seen animals within Everglades National Park.

  • American Alligator – A fierce predator that patrols the marshlands of the Everglades. They primarily feed on fish, birds, and other mammals. If you see an American Alligator during your visit to the Everglades, it is best to keep your distance.
  • American Crocodile – A less common large predatory reptile, the American Crocodile mainly hunts fish, birds, and other mammals. They inhabit lagoons, brackish water, and the other swampy areas the Everglades has to offer.
  • Florida Panther – One of Florida’s unique and solitary mammals, the Florida Panther feeds on hares, deer, birds, feral pigs, and American Alligators. Unfortunately, the Florida Panther is now listed as endangered and only occupies five percent of the land it used to inhabit.
  • West Indian Manatee – This peaceful giant is found in the coastal waters of Southeast Florida. Due to boating accidents and loss of habitat, the West Indian Manatee is now an endangered species.
  • White-Tailed Deer – These deer can be found throughout the Everglades. They primarily eat grass and forage in the dry broad-leafed forests found within the Everglades. They are prey to the American Alligator, Florida Panther, and Black bears.
  • East Indigo Snake – This large non-venomous black snake is found in the Southeast United States. This snake feeds on turtles, frogs, lizards, and other small rodents.
  • Wood Stork – This large wading bird is found in subtropical wetland habitats in which the Everglades are home. They fed on frogs, inspects, fish, and crabs.
  • Bald Eagle – America’s National symbol, the Bald Eagle. The Bald Eagle feeds on fish, other small birds, and small mammals. The Everglades make the perfect place for these eagles to build their nests.

Cost Of The Trip

As you know, the cost of a trip to the Everglades can vary greatly depending on the activities you do, the number of days you stay, and where you decide to camp. Entering the Everglades costs anywhere from $15-$30 depending on how you enter the park.

Staying at one of the campsites within the Everglades is an affordable way to explore the National Park. Ranging from $27/night to $55/night, the Everglades is perfect for anyone on a budget looking to spend a few nights in the outdoors. For the most up-to-date information on pricing and campsites, check out the NPS Camping page.

Family Activities Within The Everglades

The Everglades is a massive National Park with several family-friendly activities to explore. Here are five of the most kid-friendly activities the Everglades has to offer.

  1. Airboat Tours – There are several airboat tour companies that are located within the Everglades. Many of which take you on 30-45 minute tours through the mangroves as you explore various alligator holes, different species of native trees, and if you’re lucky some of the Everglades’ most beautiful birds. These trips are generally in the $35-$40 range per person. Check out Captain Jack Airboat Tours for more information.
  2. Eco Pond – This is the perfect spot for wildlife sightings. You will have the chance to see several species of wading birds, turtles, and alligators. Located near the tip of Flamingos main park road is where you will find this pristine pond.
  3. Shark Valley – We covered the visitor center a bit earlier in this article. Shark Valley offers fun for the whole family. Take the tram, walk, hike, or even bike to the observation tower. We guarantee that you will see several species of wildlife on your way there and back.
  4. Earnest COE Visitor Center – This is the main visitor center for the Everglades National Park. You will find a lot of educational resources, helpful staff, and they might even give you a few ideas on how you can spend your day.
  5. Miccosukee Cultural Center – It is important to remember that this land was once lived on and inhabited by Native Americans. The Miccosukee, Calusa and the Seminoles were three of the most prominent tribes in the area. Take the time to visit the cultural center and learn about their way of life. Located near Shark Valley, you might have time to visit the cultural center and Shark Valley tram all in one day.

Conservation Efforts Within The Everglades National Park

There is an ongoing conservation effort aimed at restoring the Everglades, maintaining the waterways, and preventing floods. This effort will cost over 20 billion dollars and take over 20 years to complete. It is often called the “world’s largest ecosystem restoration effort”. It will take citizens, the army corps of engineers, and other agencies to ensure the success of this plan.

Since 1947 when the Everglades National Park was formally established by President Harry S Truman, the park has increased its boundaries. Initially covering 460,000 acres, it now covers 1,509,533 acres which has helped wildlife thrive and help restore balance to the ecosystem.

RV Do’s and Dont’s

When RVing in the Everglades, it is important to follow the park’s rules and regulations in order to protect the sensitive ecosystem and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors.Here are a few things to avoid doing while RVing in the Everglades:

  • Do not dispose of waste improperly. This includes littering, dumping gray or black water, or leaving behind any trash or debris. The park has areas where waste can be thrown away, and people should use these areas to help keep the park clean and keep the environment safe.
  • Do not feed the wildlife. It is illegal to feed the animals in the park, and it is also dangerous for both the animals and the visitors. Feeding the wildlife can cause them to become dependent on human handouts and may alter their natural behavior. It can also lead to aggressive behavior, as animals may become accustomed to getting food from humans and may approach them expecting to be fed.
  • Do not damage the plants or wildlife. The Everglades is home to many different species of plants and animals, and it is important to respect and protect them. Do not pick the plants, disturb the nests or dens of animals, or harm any of the wildlife in any way.
  • Do not drive off-road or drive in designated areas. The park has roads and trails for vehicles, and it is important to stay on these routes to prevent damage to the park and the environment. Do not drive off-road or on any unmarked trails, and be mindful of any restricted areas that may be closed to vehicles.

By following these rules and following the park’s rules, you can help protect the Everglades and ensure a safe experience for everyone.

Chapter 5: Travel Tips

This chapter strives to give our readers valuable information on traveling within the Everglades. Some of this information we will have already covered such as what to pack. So we will give a condensed run down of the essential items you will need inside the Everglades.

What to Pack

Packing the right things makes any trip you take more enjoyable. Here are a few of the things you need to make sure you do not leave home without.

  • Water – Make sure you pack enough
  • Phone – While cell phone service might be spotty, it is vital to have a phone in case of emergencies.
  • Food – Having snacks for your hike is always a plus.
  • Sunscreen – The Florida heat can be brutal
  • Correct Clothing – Make sure you are protected from the sun by wearing long sleeve breathable shirts and comfortable pants
  • Insect Repellant – Florida is notorious for its mosquito population.
  • Backpack – Make sure you have something to store your belongings.

Note: We advise that each traveler does adequate planning to ensure each member of the party has adequate water. In the Summer, Florida can reach temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and even the fittest of people can become quickly dehydrated.

Culture of the Area

Everglades National Park has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The Everglades used to cover almost 11,000 square miles of Southern Florida, but due to early settlers in the early 1900s, the landscape was quickly changing. These settlers began draining the Everglades to make for more “livable” conditions. The changes these settlers made were extremely damaging to the ecosystem and the wildlife that lived there.

Fortunately, by 1947 President Harry S Truman declared the Everglades a National Park. This helped prevent the further degradation of the park and allowed wildlife to thrive once again. Over the years several conservation groups have come together to ensure the Everglades remains a thriving ecosystem to many of the animals that inhabit the land.

Native Americans In The Everglades

While there were many different tribes within the Everglades, the Calusa were the prominent tribe in the area according to Spanish accounts. They had a widespread complex society with several different tribes joining together under a complex hierarchy system. As the Spanish invaded the Calusa tribes, unfortunately, they died out due to disease and other interactions with the Spanish. By 1763, the tribes had retreated far into the Everglades and some even escaped to Cuba.

In 1783, the Spanish claimed Florida as their own. But Andrew Jackson quickly questioned this and by 1818, the United States took sole ownership of Florida. During this time, the Seminole and Miccosukee Indians lived in Florida but had poor relations with the United States. Several wars ensued to move the Indian Tribes out of Florida and by 1856 a treaty was signed that gave over 2 million acres of land to the United States. The Indian tribes lived in relative peace after this time and continued cattle ranching and farming.

Important Safety Rules and Regulations

Following these basic yet important safety rules will lead to a more enjoyable experience for you and your family within the Everglades. It is important to always use common sense and have a general awareness of your surroundings. There is wildlife in this National park that can severely injure or even kill you if you do not respect its space.

Firearm Regulations

As of February 22, 2010, anyone who can legally possess a firearm is now allowed to do so within Everglades National Park. It is the park visitors’ responsibility to comply with all the laws associated with owning a firearm.

Note: Certain facilities may not allow you to enter with a firearm. Be sure to read and be aware of all rules before entering a building.

Boating Rules and Regulations

Knowing the proper rules and regulations that go along with boating in the Everglades helps keep you and the park safe. Navigating the waters of the Everglades can be an enjoyable experience when done correctly. But improper boater safety can lead to vessels running aground, you getting lost, or damage to the wildlife. In order to better prepare you for boating in the Everglades, we have linked to the National Park Services Page on boater safety.

Best Hikes: Everglades National Park

One of the most rewarding activities that can be done within the Everglades is hiking. There are 29 hiking trails that can be completed. Here are our top three must-visit trails when planning a trip into the Everglades. We have broken down the list into an easy hike, a moderate difficulty hike, and an advanced hike. All of these trails will give you the opportunity to explore the park and see some of its amazing wildlife.

  1. Anhinga Trail – The Anhinga trail is an easy 0.8-mile hike paved loop trail that will give you the chance to see several species of wildlife. It will take roughly 15 minutes to complete and can be done with the whole family.
  2. Hidden Lake and Old Ingraham Highway Trail – This 23.2-mile hike takes roughly six hours to complete. This out and back trail is regarded as moderate difficulty. Be sure to pack the proper equipment and water for your hike.
  3. Double Dome Wet Walk – This 0.8-mile hike is listed as advanced difficulty. Not because of the distance or time it will take you to complete the hike (10 minutes) but because of what you will have to do. You will be hiking in alligator-infested water for 10 minutes as you explore this trail. As the water gets to your waist level, you truly begin to feel like you are being watched.

Honorable mention: Our honorable mention is Shark Valley Trail. This trail has already been mentioned a few times in this article. The reason it did not make the list is that it is not a pure hiking trail. Instead, you can hike, bike, or even take the tram as you work your way down the trail.

Chapter 6: Accommodations

Vacationing in the Everglades comes with several different options. These options include tent camping, RV camping, boonbocking, and several nearby hotels and resorts. Picking the right lodging for you and your family can make the trip more enjoyable.

Within Everglades National Park there are 382 total camping sites split up between two camp sites. Both of these campsites are accessible through the Homestead entrance of the park. Here is a quick description of both of these campsites and what they have to offer.

The Flamingo Campground

  • 274 total sites
  • 41 total hookups
  • 65 RV only sites – 45 feet max length
  • 20-30-50 Amp options
  • 274 tent sites – RV sites can also be used for tent camping.
  • 3 Group Sites
  • Dump Station
  • Cell phone connectivity
  • Firewood
  • Camp store
  • Trash and Recycling
  • Ice for sale
  • Hot Showers

Along with all these amenities, you will also find plentiful fishing opportunities and several beautiful hiking trails located within minutes of your campsite.

This campground is open 24/7 365 days a year, including holidays. You can make reservations by heading to the Everglades official reservations page.

Long Pine Key Campground

  • Open seasonally from November – May
  • 108 total sites
  • 0 electrical hookups
  • 108 RV Sites – 35 feet max length
  • 108 Tent sites
  • 1 group site
  • No camp store
  • No laundry
  • Cell-phone reception
  • No ice
  • No firewood
  • Hot Showers
  • Trash and recycling collection

Long Pine Key Campground has plenty of hiking trails and scenic walks to do nearby.

This campground is open seasonally from November to May. You can make reservations by heading to the Everglades official reservations page.


Houseboats are a more luxurious way to experience the Everglades. Starting at $300/night houseboats are able to sleep up to six adults (but 4 is the recommended amount) and come with all the basic amenities. They are 42 feet long and sit on the backcountry marina at Flamingo. The marina is located 38 miles from the Enttance of Everglades National Park. Here are some of the most popular features each houseboat comes with:

  • Two Bedrooms – One with a queen and one with a full size bed (3 Houseboats have this arrangement)
  • Two Bedrooms – One with a queen and the other with a full-over-full bunk-bed (one houseboat available with this arrangement)
  • One shower
  • Refrigerator / freezer, microwave, small coffee maker, utensils, and glassware
  • 70 gallon water tank
  • Hot water

If you’re interested in learning more about the houseboats, check out this page Flamingo Adventures has put together.

Nearby Resorts: Miccosukee Resort and Gaming

The Miccosukee Resort and Gaming hotel is one of the best resorts in the area. Located at 500 SW 177th Ave Miami, FL 33194 it is just a short drive to the Everglades. This resort offers gambling, a nice place to stay, and a break from the Florida heat.


There are several free campsites located around Everglades National Park. Be aware that these campsites are not always maintained and may be severely overgrown. Also, these campsites include places for you to park your RV. Here are three of the most popular boon-docking sites within the Everglades.

  1. Cracker Barrel Homestead – The cracker barrel located in Homestead offers the perfect place for RV travelers to rest for the night. The parking lot has plenty of space for RVs and having a breakfast spot nearby is always a plus.
  2. CREW Cypress Dome Trails (Gate 5) – It is located at 3980 Corkscrew Road (C.R. 850) Immokalee, Florida and roughly one mile from the nearest paved road. There are five campsites at this location.
  3. Clubhouse Beach – GPS Coordinates – 25.1292, -81.03889 – This campsite is free to the public, but you will require a permit to stay the night. It is maintained by the National Park Service.

Chapter 7: Safety

Knowing how to stay safe within the Everglades will be beneficial for you and your family. There are several species of wildlife that can cause serious harm or even kill a fully grown adult if you are not careful. These animals include alligators, panthers, black bears, black widows, brown recluses, and several species of snakes. Taking the proper care can ensure safety for you and your family.

Keeping Your Distance

One of the easiest (but not always possible) ways to stay safe is keeping your distance from predatory animals. Many times, alligators, rattlesnakes, and other species of animals will let their presence be known. These signs include hissing (alligator) and rattling of their tail (rattlesnakes). Knowing these signs will help you remain safe and give the animals the space they deserve. It is also vital that you wear the correct clothing. Keeping your distance is not always easy when you cannot see the nearby danger. Certain species of snakes and spiders will not have any warning before they attack. Wearing jean pants and long sleeve shirts can help keep you better protected.

Dangerous Plants

The animals are not the only dangerous things in the Everglades. Unfortunately, there is one species of plant in particular that can cause major harm to humans that is found in the Everglades.

The Manchineel Tree is a beautiful, tropical tree that you would expect to be growing in the Everglades or other tropical areas of the world. But, this tree has a sinister side that can leave you blind, blister your skin, or severely ill from just standing next to it for long periods of time. The fruit this tree bears is similar in shape and color to an apple. One of the top 10 most dangerous plants in the world, the “the little apple of death” is best to avoid at all costs.


Florida is known for its sporadic weather, especially during the “wet” season and Everglades National Park is no different. During the months of May to November (Summer) you can expect afternoon rain showers followed by high humidity. The temperature fluctuates in the high 80s and low 90s. This is also the time of year Florida experiences hurricanes and other tropical storms that can dump inches of rain in just a few hours.

The “dry” season lasts from December to April and is typically the busy season for the Everglades. During this time of year, the watering holes dry up, making wildlife easier to spot as they tend to congregate in the remaining water. The temperature during this time of year ranges from the low 50s to the 70s and significantly less humidity. If you plan on visiting the Everglades during the dry season, it is advised that you arrive early as lines to the parks attractions can get long.

Proper Gear For The Everglades National Park

Having the proper gear can make your trip significantly more enjoyable. Here is a list of the must-haves when entering the Everglades regardless of the season:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Sunscreen
  • A hat
  • A backpack
  • Proper Clothing (long sleeves and long pants)
  • Any medicine you may need
  • Cell phone
  • Map of the area
  • Inspect Repellant

These are some of the must-haves when visiting the Everglades. Of course, everyone is different, so your needs may be different from what is on the list. Feel free to comment in the comment section what items you feel we should add to the list.


No one ever thinks they will find themselves in an emergency situation but being prepared for the worst can save your life. While there is fair cell phone service in the majority of the park, some areas will not have cell phone coverage. So, here at rvResortScout we always suggest carrying a satellite phone as a backup. These phones tend to have service even when our regular providers do not. Having the ability to get in touch with the proper help can make all the difference.

Chapter 8: What Is In The Surrounding Area

Southeast Florida is home to one of the party capitals of the world. Miami gives you a reprieve from the wilderness and an opportunity to explore Miami’s culture. Known for its nightlife, the city has a little bit of everything for everyone. You can explore the beach, walk ocean drive, or dine at one of the best restaurants in the world. If you’re interested in learning more about what Miami has to offer we have put together a short guide for you.

Other popular towns and cities near the Everglades include Homestead, the Florida Keys and Tampa. You will find amazing eats, fun activities, and plenty of places to stay if you need a break from the wilderness.

Best Food In The Area

We have put together a list of the five best restaurants in the area. All of these restaurants are within a 30-minute drive to one of the park’s main entrances.

  1. Everglades Gator Grill – Drop by and get their famous grilled gator sandwich. Who knows when you’ll have the opportunity to taste fresh gator again.
  2. Miccosukee Resort and Gaming – Known for its gambling and resort, this hotel also offers great bites at a great price. Drop by for a few hours of fun and some steak and lobster.
  3. Robert Is Here – This local hangout spot is one of the most popular spots in all of Homestead. Come by to grab some fresh fruit, amazing milkshakes, and browse their vast array of jams.
  4. Triad Seafood Market and Café – Amazing seafood for an affordable price. This is a must-do restaurant when visiting Everglades City.
  5. Island Cafe – Stop by for a fresh bite to eat. We suggest getting the shrimp po’boy when you check out this restaurant.

Dump Stations Near Everglades National Park

There are a few dump stations located within the Everglades. Here is a quick list of three of the most affordable and easy-to-use dump stations in and around the park:

  • Long Pine Key: GPS Coordinates – 25.417, -80.647
  • Flamingo: GPS Coordinates – 25.137, -80.943
  • Dona Drive Wildlife Check Station: GPS Coordinates – 25.90075, -81.30958

Chapter 9: Nearby National Parks

Having an idea of the closest National Parks can help you plan your trip and give you more vacation ideas. Luckily for you, Florida has two other stunning National Parks that you can visit. Each of these National Parks comes with its own set of adventures and things to do. These two parks are Biscayne National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park.

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is rich in history dating back over 10,000 years. There is evidence of prehistoric tribes, several shipwrecks, and farmers that cultivated the land. Today the park is a popular destination for outdoor recreational activities such as boating, snorkeling, and swimming. Located less than an hour away from Everglades National Park, this is the perfect way to spend a day in South Florida.

Dry Tortugas National Park

The Dry Tortugas National Park lies toughly 70 miles west of Key West. This is one of the few parks in the country that is only accessible by boat or plane so getting here requires a bit of planning. But once you arrive in the Dry Tortugas you will experience clear waters, amazing fishing, and some snorkeling and diving opportunities. Exploring Fort Jefferson is a must when you visit the islands. It is one of the oldest 19th century forts still standing today.

Chapter 9: Nearby State Parks

Visiting Florida gives you the opportunity to visit several State Parks as well. While the National Parks tend to get the majority of the recognition, some of these State Parks hold hidden gems that the locals love to explore. There are three State Parks in Southern Florida that you must visit when visiting the Everglades.

John Pennekamp State Park

Known by the locals as one of the best State Parks in Florida, John Pennekamp coral reef state park is a must-visit. Offering hours of family fun, you will have the opportunity to snorkel, dive, fish, canoe, kayak, and much more. Explore roughly 70 nautical square miles of beautiful ocean reefs, large mangroves, and several species of wildlife.

Egmont Key State Park

Located just south of Tampa, Florida, this State Park is roughly a 4-hour trip from the Everglades. But once you get here it’ll be worth it. We suggest booking an Island Boat Tour before you get to the State Park since that will give you the best opportunity to explore the island. Many of the tour companies are reasonably priced and will drop you off at the shore, which will allow you to swim and explore the island at your own pace.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Located near the Southernmost point of Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is a civil war era fort. Explore the rich history of this State Park and take a step back into history as you discover one of America’s earliest military structures. And as with the majority of Floridas State Parks, you will have the opportunity to get in the water and enjoy the scenery.

Chapter 11: Top Sites / Places to Visit

This section will cover five of the most popular places to visit inside the Everglades. You can use this guide to plan a day trip to the Everglades or take a whole day exploring each of these places. It’s worth mentioning that this list is in no particular order.

  1. Shark Valley Trail – This trail is worth mentioning again since it has some of the best views and best chances to see wildlife. We suggest taking the tram since it is the most family-friendly way to explore the trail. Exploring the trail can easily turn into a full day activity as it is a 15-mile-long hike and can take several hours to complete it on foot.
  2. Any Airboat Tour Operator – A trip into the Everglades is not complete without an airboat ride. There are several options you can choose from; just be sure to read the reviews and know what to expect. As a tip we suggest wearing ear protection since it can get pretty loud on the airboats.
  3. Eco Pond – This is where you go for almost guaranteed wildlife spotting. The Eco pond is known to attract alligators, several species of birds, and other wildlife to the area.
  4. Earnest F. COE Visitor Center – The main visitor center of the Everglades is a must-visit. Not only will you find plenty of information within the center, you will also have the opportunity to ask the park rangers about any activities going on that day. If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon a fun family-friendly activity.
  5. Hike a Trail – It does not matter which one, just hike a trail. We have mentioned a few trails early that can be fun for the whole family.

Chapter 12: Places To Visit With Kids Within Everglades National Park

The Everglades has several kid-friendly activities that range in activity level. In this section we will suggest a few different activities that are fun for the whole family. Some of these activities will be directed towards older children. For example, going on an 8-mile hike with a two-year-old is not highly advised.

Family Friendly Activities

  1. Fishing – There are several popular fishing spots within the Everglades. Be sure to get your fishing license before entering the park, so you are up-to-date on the newest fishing regulations. Several species of fish within the Everglades have been known to have a high mercury count. We do not advise eating any fish near the main park road or any saltwater species caught in northern Florida Bay.
  2. Guided Tours – Taking a guided tour can be a sure-fire way to see wildlife and have a safe experience for you and your family. It will also give you and the kids a chance to ask questions to the knowledgeable park rangers. Take a look at the full list of tours the Everglades has to offer.
  3. Camping – Camping in Everglades National Park is one of the most popular family-friendly activities the park has to offer. rvResortScout suggests camping at the Flamingo campsite, which is located near the Homestead entrance. This campsite has several amenities which lead to a better experience.

Kid Friendly Hikes

The three hikes listed in this section range in difficulty from easy to hard, so be sure to pick the hike that is best suited for your child’s age range.

  1. Shark Valley Trail – By now you guys are probably tired of hearing about the Shark Valley trail. But this trail is perfect for all age ranges since you have the option to take the tram. This is perfect for small children who might not be able to make the whole 15-mile hike.
  2. Hidden Lake and Old Ingraham Highway Trail – This long 23.2-mile trail is not for the faint of heart. This trail is suggested for you and your teenagers. This trail can take 6-7 hours depending on the pace of your hike. Be sure to pack the proper equipment and water if you plan on completing this trail.
  3. Gumbo Limbo Trail – This 0.8-mile hike is perfect for younger kids. Kids 4+ can take on this hike with adult supervision. This short paved path will give you the opportunity to see some of the amazing flora and fauna the Everglades has to offer.

Chapter 13: Museums

Within Everglades City there is a museum dedicated to the history of the park. This is the perfect place to visit if you’re a history buff looking to learn some new things about the Everglades. The building originally opened in 1927 as a laundry facility but has now transformed into a museum dedicated to keeping the past alive.

You can find it at: 105 West Broadway Avenue Everglades City, FL 34139 and it is open Tuesday-Saturday 9AM to 4PM. Take a deeper look into some of their exhibits before you go.

Chapter 14: Shopping And Other Important Locations

The information in this section is designed to keep you in the know with regard to the surrounding area. Knowing where to find the popular malls, grocery stores, RV repair shops, and more can be key to having an enjoyable trip to the Everglades. You might even find an activity outside the Everglades that you feel like visiting.

Most Popular Malls

Near the main entrance (Homestead) to the Everglades, there are several malls and shopping centers within driving range. Here is a list of the most popular malls and shopping centers:

  1. Dolphin Mall – A busy “tourist” mall with several shops and restaurants. This is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, watch a movie, or do some shopping.
  2. The Palms at Town and Country – This open-air shopping center is known for its restaurants such as Tap 42 and Chef Adrian’s.
  3. Brickell City Center – Explore shops such as Apple, Bath and Body Works, Dr. Smood, and Nike.
  4. The Falls – There are several reasons to visit the Falls. Amazing food, several shops, and a movie theater to pass some time.
  5. Florida Keys Outlet Marketplace – If you’re shopping on a budget, the Florida Keys Outlet Marketplace is the place to be. Browse the Nike outlet, Adidas Outlet, Gap stores and more all for an affordable price.

Florida Everglades National Park Wrap Up

Visiting the Everglades can be an enjoyable experience when planned correctly. There are several fun activities such as hikes, airboat rides, and things to do in the surrounding area to keep you entertained. We suggest taking at least a week to get to know this iconic National Park and everything it has to offer. rvResortScout invites you to add to the conversation. Take advantage of our comment section below and tell us about your favorite Everglades experience.


  • No comments yet.
  • Add a comment


    Reach out.