Which Entrance Should We Take?
The Everglades National Park covers more than 1.5 million acres in South Florida. While most of the park is remote and inaccessible, there are plenty of spots within a few minutes of Miami and Naples, where you can get a feel for the “River of Grass”.
Your first decision in visiting the Everglades is which entrance to use; there are three and they are hours apart from each other. If you want the opportunity to observe the heart of the everglades you can either enter through Shark Valley in Miami or the Main Entrance of the Park in Homestead. However, if you are looking to explore the Gulf Coast, then you should plan to boat from the Gulf Coast in Everglades City.
View the map of the Everglades to get a better idea of different regions of the Everglades.
Named because its water flows southwest toward Shark River, Shark Valley is the heartland of the Everglades. At Shark Valley you can walk, bike, or ride a tram along a 15-mile loop road and see some of the park’s best wildlife concentrations. The Shark Valley observation tower offers a 360 degree view of the Everglades. The viewing deck overlooks a life-filled water hole, providing a bird’s eye view of alligators, turtles, fish, and birds. Tram tours and bicycle rentals are available through Shark Valley Tram Tours.
From the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in the town of Everglades City, take a boat - your own or a scheduled sightseeing boat tour - to explore the vast mangrove estuary of the Ten Thousand Islands. *Note: due to construction, concession boat tours are not operational at this time. For more information, read "Everglades National Park announces the construction of the Marjory Stonemen Douglas Visitor Center in Everglades City."
Along the Main Park Road in Homestead, which connects our south entrances, there are a series of stops with short walks that show the Everglades' diverse ecosystems.
Royal Palm is the departure point for two interpretive walks: the Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail. Expect to see plenty of wildlife along the Anhinga Trail, a world famous boardwalk trail bordering Taylor Slough. The Gumbo Limbo Trail is a paved path through a hardwood hammock. On your car ride to Flamingo, there are many trails to explore off the main park road.
Flamingo (38 miles south of the Main Park Entrance in Homestead)
At the end of the park road, Flamingo is the gateway to Florida Bay. The bay and its adjoining maze of mangrove waterways provide homes for thousands of birds and a wealth of fish, crabs, shrimp, and other marine life. Facilities, products, and services at Flamingo include a campground, a marina with boat launching areas, and hiking and canoe trails. Kayak, canoe, and bicycle rentals are available through Flamingo Adventures.