Created in 1947 by President Harry Truman, Everglades National Park in
Florida is also a World Heritage Site, a mystery and a marvel to the
more than one million visitors annually. The slow-moving river, which
flows gently over the landscape rather than finding valleys and
crevices, stretches from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico and is
the third largest national park in the contiguous United States. Within
its boundaries are 25 varieties of orchids, 30 species of fish, 13
threatened or endangered species and an array of exciting activities.
Five visitor centers dot the park, but the main one is
the Ernest F. Coe Center (305-242-7700) west of Homestead. Ranger-led
programs on land and captain-led programs on water offer visitors a
better understanding of the mysterious park “that moves.” Birding,
hiking, biking, canoeing, wildlife watching and photography are among
the many options for visitors. The American Crocodile, Green Turtle and
Florida Panther are among the plethora of wildlife living in the park.
Camping options within Everglades National Park include
Chekika, Flamingo and Long Pine Key campgrounds. Chekika is day-use only
until all repairs are completed; Flamingo offers 234 sites and Long
Pine Key has 108 sites available to both tents and RVs. From May to
October visitors are asked to self register; from June to August, sites
are free; and from December to April, camping is first-come, first
served. Sites are $16 per night, with a maximum of 14 nights at any one
time and a total of 30 nights per year. The Golden Age and Golden Access
Passports are applicable. Entrance to the park is $10 per vehicle for
seven days, but guests may buy an annual Everglades pass for $25.
Freshwater fishing requires a Florida fishing license and
anglers have an opportunity to hook a largemouth bass or a tarpon; the
bass, however, are not considered edible due to large amounts of
mercury. Saltwater fishing is also possible in the area.
Camping information is available by calling (800) 365-2267.
For additional information: www.nps.gov/ever
Photo: Courtesy of The Clipart Site