FAQ Ernest Coe Visitor Center

1. When does the park close? Everglades National Park Main Entrance in Homestead is open 24/7, 365. The entrance station is not staffed 24 hours a day, but visitors can enter or exit at any time. Visitors will NOT get locked in the park overnight.

2. How much are the entrance fees to the park? The VC doesn't handle passes, visitors will purchase or show passes at the entrance station. Most visitors will pay $10.00, the normal entrance fee. Visitors with Annual, Senior, Access, or Volunteer passes who have left them at home will be required to pay. The Park Service does not keep a database of passes.


Head of an American Crocodile

3. What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Where they live: Alligators live in freshwater habitats mainly, while Crocodiles live in salt or brackish water habitats. Everglades National Park is the only place in the world you may spot gators and crocs in the same body of water; perhaps Paurotis or Nine Mile Pond.

Color: Alligators are black to dark grey in color while crocodiles are a green-grey color.


Snout: Classic difference but hard to see unless you are up close. Alligators snout is more like a shovel -wide and blunt (used like a shovel too), Crocodile snout in pointed with more teeth sticking out (better for catching fish).

4. Are crocodiles more aggressive? Maybe, they are more likely to have a flight or fight response.


They generally encounter humans less frequently than alligators but have been known to be a bit more aggressive. As far as our visitors are concerned, we should behave in the same way (stay back 20', don't feed or touch, if it moves = you are too close)

5. How large do alligators and crocodiles get? Alligators average maximum size is around 12', these are the old ones, not many of this size in the park.


Most large gators we will see are between 7' to 10'. Crocodiles grow a bit larger than alligators, maximum size around 13'.

6. Has anyone in the park ever been hurt by an alligator? There are no documented accounts of any alligator attacks inside the park in the past decade. Gators that live near urban areas are typically more aggressive and dangerous as they have been fed by people in the past and are more likely to approach humans. Inside the park gators are not fed (let's hope not) and so do not associate humans with food, let's keep it that way!



7. Where can I take my pet in the park? Pets are allowed (6-foot (2 m) leash) in parking lots and campgrounds, but not on trails or in wilderness areas. Currently pets are only permitted in the following areas:

  • On roadways open to public vehicular traffic
  • In roadside campgrounds and picnic areas
  • On maintained ground surrounding publis facilities
  • Aboard boats
gator at anhinga trail thumb

All pets must be on a leash not to exceed six feet and under close supervision, even in designated areas.

Note: Pets and Service Animals present in areas not permitted, open themselves to predation by wildlife as well as posing a significant danger to the handler and other visitors.


Airboat traveling through wet prairies.

8. Why are there no airboats here? Most of the nearly 2400 square miles of Everglades National Park is managed as a wilderness area and Airboats are prohibited in these parts of the park (including Florida Bay).


9. Can you fish in the park? Where? Do you need a license? How much is it? Where do I get it?

Yes, there is fishing in the park. A Florida fishing license is required, and can be purchased at the Flamingo Marina, in town at bait and tackle shops, or Wal-Mart. They can also be purchased online from www.myfwc.com or by calling 888-FISH-FLO (305-347-4356).

Fresh Water

Nine Mile Pond and north is considered freshwater and you will need a freshwater license, south of nine mile a saltwater license is needed.

Everglades National Park fishing regulations, which are in some cases different from Florida's regulation, and Pole and Troll zone handout. Visitors can get a tide table from the entrance station if they want one.


10. Can I go swimming in Flamingo? No. Swimming/Snorkeling is prohibited in all canals, ponds, freshwater lakes, marked channels, and boat basins. Swimming/Snorkeling is allowed in Florida Bay and Nine Mile Bay which is near Key Largo.



11. How many Florida Panthers are there in the park? Are they black? When was one last seen? The scientists tell us about 10 - 15 panthers in all of 1.5 million acres, they are centered around the pineland forests. Panthers are tawny (or deer color) and range from dark brown to light brown. We have documented (by a ranger or with a photo) panther sighting perhaps once or twice a year, chances to see one today = not so good.


Burmese Python

12. How many Burmese Pythons are in the park? How did they get here? Thousands, tens of thousands, the real answer is no one really knows. Exotic animals were released by people into the wilds of south Florida; some were pets that got too large to handle, some were released for tourist attractions. Most did not survive but the tropical climate but pythons from Berma (SE Asia) did alright. Eventually males and females started breeding and now we have a serious population problem. No easy way to get rid of 'em, in fact there are probably here to stay until a novel and effective removal technique is found.



14. Is the water being restored to the park? Short answer: Yes. Further; Congress enacted the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) into law in 2000. Since then a number of preliminary studies and preparatory steps (mixed in with law suits) have been undertaken. In 2010 the first construction projects began to put more water into the park./p>


Flamingo master plan

16. Are they going to rebuild lodging in Flamingo? When?

Yes. We would like to and have developed extensive plans to rebuild. However the structures now required need to be Category V hurricane rated and incorporate some sustainable design elements (gotta be green). These criteria have put the cost over 70 million dollars. Considering today's economy it is not looking good.



17. Can I get a shower at Flamingo?

The Flamingo Marina offers hot showers for $3 at the Marina store. Showers are also available for campers at the Flamingo Campground but not at Long Pine Key Campground.


Flamingos at Mud Lake

18. Are there flamingos at Flamingo? Why is it called that?

The answer to this question comes directly from Bob Showler:
Flamingo was named in 1893 for the large number of flamingos that could be found in the area during the 1800's. Flocks of over 1000 birds were being recorded during that time. The last large flock was seen in 1902. After that, they became very rare in the area. During the 1800's flamingos were being hunted throughout the Caribbean and in Florida Bay, which is probably why they declined. They were considered good eating.

After 1902 only small flocks of flamingos have been seen in the area. It's believed they wander in from their Caribbean breeding grounds, from places like the Bahamas, Cuba, and the Yucatan Peninsula. Flocks of anywhere from 1 - 100 birds have been seen in recent years, mainly around Snake & Garfield Bights and in certain remote backwaters of the mangrove swamp. In recent decades Caribbean flamingo populations have increased substantially, and we remain hopeful that someday larger numbers of flamingos will appear in our area.



19. What time does the café at Flamingo close?

The Buttonwood Café at Flamingo operates on a seasonal sliding scale. Typically they are open 11am-7pm. Currently, they are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There is a menu at the desk for you to show visitors if they are interested.


20. Is there a movie in Spanish?

Yes, our park film "Everglades: River of Life" is available in Spanish and English. Start the film using the Cretron remote on the VC counter, press RIVER ENG to play it in English and RIVER SPA to play it in Spanish.



Where can I see a manatee?

Occasionally visitors can see a manatee in the boat basin at Flamingo. They are more likely to see them in the summer months. It is a good idea to tell a visitor "you may have an opportunity to see…" rather than "there is a manatee that always hangs out at…"


22. How long does it take to get to Key West, MIA, and Naples from here?

We have a "Common Destinations" folder under the VC desk with this info but roughly (with No Traffic): Key West: 3to 3.5 hours, MIA: 1 hour, Naples: 2.5 hours.



23.Is there camping in Big Cypress? Where?

Campgrounds may close seasonally, temporarily for repairs or for resource concerns. Contact the Oasis Visitor Center at 239-695-1201, or Big Cypress Welcome Center at 239-695-4758 for campground availability and information on closures. All campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.


24. How far is it to Biscayne National Park?

Biscayne National Park's Visitor's Center is about 17 miles from the Ernest Coe VC. It should take about 30-40 minutes driving time to get there from here.


25. I just brushed something off my shirt and my arm is beginning to swell. What should I do?

You may need medical attention. There are many plants and animals that can cause a systemic (full body) reaction.

Its address is: 975 Baptist Way (Campbell Drive and S.W. 147 Avenue), Homestead, FL 33033. (https://baptisthealth.net/en/facilities/homestead-hospital/pages/about.aspx)


Last updated: April 14, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034


(305) 242-7700

Contact Us