10 Essential Ranger Tips For Visiting Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park has one important purpose: it “provides important habitat for many rare and endangered species, such as the manatee, the American crocodile and the elusive Florida panther.”
The enormous park, which has an entrance about an hour from Miami, includes 1.5 million acres of wetlands in Miami Dade, Monroe and Collier counties in Florida.
Planning a trip to the Everglades is a challenge. First, a plan should take into account the size of the park. Then, if you plan to visit the Everglades in the summer, you will need to consider the sweltering summer temperatures and frequent thunderstorms.
The good news is that National Park Service (NPS) staff recognize these issues. With those challenges in mind, the NPS has released its “Top 10 Tips for Visiting Everglades National Park,” written by the park rangers who work there, to make planning your trip easier.
Let’s get right to the point. Here’s how rangers suggest planning a trip to Everglades National Park.
1. Prepare for summer conditions
It is generally hot and humid in the Everglades from May to November, with temperatures in the 90s, humidity over 90%, and a heat index over 100 degrees. Additionally, although they subside quickly, there are usually daily thunderstorms that produce heavy rains.
“Summer is beautiful but difficult in the Everglades”, explain the rangers. “Be prepared for the sun, the heat, thunderstorms and mosquitoes. Stay hydrated, wear protective clothing, wear insect repellant, and find shelter when a thunderstorm sets in quickly. “
2. Take a guided tour
Summer, due to heat and thunderstorms, is the slowest season in the Everglades. As a result, there are fewer programs run by rangers.
There are, however, a number of dealer partners who offer informative tours year round. You can find out more about guided tours and other services here.
3. Have a great day on the water
Most of the Everglades are only accessible by water, which means boating, fishing, and canoeing are popular activities. There’s even a 99-mile-long Wilderness Waterway that takes 7-10 days to explore by canoe or kayak – although there are other shorter trails that are clearly marked.
Again, other popular activities include hiking, biking, and camping. You can find out more about all Everglades activities – on and off the water – here.
4. Give wildlife their space
Rangers realize that while it can be exciting to see wildlife, they urge visitors to keep a safe distance of at least 15 feet from any wildlife. Alligators and crocodiles, for example, “can look like a statue at times, but they are alive and alert and can react like lightning fast.”
Pro tip: Feeding or harassing an animal, including throwing things at it, is a criminal offense punishable by a fine.
You can read more about safety around crocodiles, alligators, and other wildlife here.
5. Download the app
The Rangers suggest downloading the NPS app to make it easier to plan your trip. The free app, which can be downloaded through the App Store and Google Play, provides interactive maps, park tours and on-the-ground accessibility information for over 400 national parks.
6. Be very prepared if you are wild camping
Wild camping is always a challenge, but wild camping in the Everglades in the summer requires even more diligence. “Be prepared for intense levels of biting insects, heat and thunderstorms,” the rangers explain.
It is important to note that wild camping also requires a permit. While campers can pre-book campsites through the Recreation.gov website, wilderness permits must be picked up in person at Visitor Centers on the Gulf Coast or Flamingo no earlier than 24 hours a day. hours before your trip.
Pro tip: Most wilderness campsites are only accessible by water. Use the Wilderness Trip Planner to make sure you are well prepared. You can find it here.
7. Don’t share your lunch
“We know your sandwich is tasty, but please don’t feed any wild animals, including birds,” the rangers write. “Feeding wild animals of any kind is illegal and will eventually make the animal aggressive. “
8. Respect park closures
Weather conditions in the Everglades during the summer can change quickly. Hurricanes and tropical storms can even force the park to close on short notice.
Rangers remind visitors to be aware of closures, alerts and other notices before heading to the park. You can check alerts and monitor current conditions on the Everglades website here or by using the NPS app.
9. Get your park pass online
All visitors to the park are required to pay an entrance fee to the Everglades. This money is used to “directly improve visitor experiences and help cover the costs of providing safe and meaningful experiences to park visitors.”
That said, rangers recommend learning about the different types of entry passes and checking whether you’re eligible for a free or discounted pass while you plan your trip. You can read more about the park passes here.
You can even purchase your park pass in advance to save time when entering the park. You can do it here.
10. Leave pets at home
Everyone loves to travel with their pets, but let’s face it: the Everglades might not be the most comfortable place for pets, especially during the summer heat, the rangers explain.
Another reason to leave pets at home is that they are only allowed in very limited areas of Everglades National Park, the rangers continue. Pets are not allowed in other areas as they are vulnerable to predators which also creates a dangerous situation for pet owners as well as other visitors.
You can read more about how to bring pets to the Everglades here.
For more, be sure to read all of our coverage of Everglades National Park. Since one of the park entrances is about an hour from Miami, be sure to read our Miami coverage as well. Finally, you can find all of our Florida coverage here.