Everglades National Park protects an unparalleled landscape that provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species
With 1,508,538 acres of trails, swamp, and nature preserve, Everglades National Park is enormous.
There are a lot of great parks and wildlife preserves all over the state of Florida, but none of them compare to the massive size of the Florida Everglades.
Located right in the heart of the swamps of south Florida, Everglades National Park is just over four hours away from the Villages of Citrus Hills.
History of the Park
Everglades National Park was established in 1947 in order to protect the natural habitat of the wildlife in southern Florida.
Originally, the swamps of the Everglades stretched from the southern tip of Florida and Florida Bay all the way north to Lake Okeechobee. The area has been severely diminished over the years, and today it occupies only 25% of that original area.
Despite its status as a nature preserve, Everglades National Park played a key role in the Cold War when the United States government decided to build a missile site there shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Primary Areas of the Park
Everglades National Park is far too large to explore without a particular plan and plenty of time to execute it. It is recommended that you start your day at one of these four locations, depending on what types of activities you would like to participate in.
Shark Valley: The Shark Valley Visitor Center is a great place to start for any first time visitors. From here, you can venture out onto a 15-mile loop through the Shark River Slough where you will likely spot alligators and wading birds, as well as other types of wildlife. This is a great trail to walk or bike, but there is also an option to take a narrated tour on a motorized tram.
Royal Palm: This is the starting point for two of the most popular trails in Everglades National Park. The Anhinga Trail is an extremely popular boardwalk trail that is great for wildlife lovers. The Gumbo Limbo Trail is actually paved and also provides access to lots of great wildlife.
Flamingo: With amenities like a visitor center, restaurant, campground, picnic area, and marina, Flamingo is the area of Everglades National Park that most resembles other national parks located throughout Florida. This is a great place to start for boating enthusiasts, and for anyone looking to go on a sightseeing boat tour.
Gulf Coast: Located near Everglades City in the northwest corner of the park, this is the most common place for visitors from the Villages of Citrus Hills to enter the Everglades. It is also the place to be if you are looking to take a boat tour through the absolutely amazing mangrove estuary of the Ten Thousand Islands.
Safety in the Park
While you are traveling through Everglades National Park, it is important to appreciate the safety concerns as well as the beauty of the park. Due to the size and nature of the park, the wildlife here moves more freely than in other parks and can be extremely dangerous if you are not careful.
One of the most important safety rules is that pets are strictly forbidden on most of the trails. Their presence can put their own lives in danger, as well as the safety of their owners. It is definitely best to leave your pets at home for this trip!
It is also important to maintain awareness of your surroundings and the current weather conditions. However, as long as you are conscious of the importance of safety in the park, you should have no problem enjoying the stunning beauty of both the natural environment and the magnificent animals that call it home.
If you have been exploring many of the parks that are located around the Villages of Citrus Hills, you have been naturally building up to a trip down to Everglades National Park.