Florida Guide > Other Florida
Visiting the Everglades
Visiting the Everglades is something you can do if you are touring around Florida. Heading onto HIghway 41 - The Tamiami Trail - you need to go East from Naples skirting along the northern edge of the Park which provides the only land excess to Everglades City and Shark Vally park entrances, and to Fakahatchee Strand, the Cypress National Preserve and the Miccosukee Indian Village. To reach the Flamingo entrance you will need to touch the edge of Miami and head South. Between Naples and Fort Lauderdale, Greyhound buses use “Alligator Alley” the popular title for Route 84.
The park is open all year round but changes in character between its wet summer and dry winter seasons. The most favourable time to visit is winter - between November and April - when the receding floodwaters cause wildlife, including migratory birds, to congregate round gator holes and sloughs (fresh water channels), ranger led activities such as guided walks, canoe trips and talks are frequent, and the mosquito life is somewhat bearable.
Throughout the summer, afternoon storms flood the sawgrass prairies and pour through sloughs, with just the hammocks showing above the water. Food being plentiful, wildlife spreads through the park, the migratory birds have gone back north, park activities are substantially reduced, and mosquitoes are a severe annoyance rendering the backcountry campsites almost uninhabitable.
A clever compromise is a visit between the seasons - late April to early May or late October to early November - which avoids the worst of the mosquitoes and the winter tourist crowds, but reveals plenty of wildlife and the park’s ever changing landscape.
Some practical tips to help you enjoy your time in the park is to always have a hat with you, sunglasses, loose fitting clothes with long sleeves and long trousers. Always carry plenty of insect repellant. As well as the hazards of sunburn - there is very little shade - and mosquitoes, you need to take special measures for the walking trails, most of which are short trots along raised boardwalks. !
Travelling and camping in the backcountry requires more caution. Most exploration is done by boat or canoe along marked trails with basic campsites available on longer routes. Don’t set off without ample provisions, including at least a gallon of water per person per day, and carry all your supplies in hard containers - the raccoons have been known to chew through soft plastic ones. Always carry a compass and maps and be sure to leave a detailed plan of your journey and its expected duration with the park ranger. Pay attention to the latest weather forecast, and note the tidal pattern if you are canoeing in a costal area.
This is a trip with a difference and be sure you will enjoy most aspects of it.
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