Just an hour’s drive from Miami, Everglades National Park offers the perfect opportunity for a day trip to enjoy nature. Most people visit the Everglades during the dry season – November to April – to enjoy a relatively mosquito-free experience. The easiest way to explore this vast park – 3rd largest in the Lower 48 – is to drive the 38-mile park road from the East entrance to Flamingo. A stop at the Coe Visitor Center allows for a brief overview of the park and its history. Hiking in the park is done mostly on boardwalks, accessible to all. For wildlife viewing, your best bet is the Anhinga trail at Royal Palm – alligators, turtles, anhinga, and vultures abound. For a reprieve from the sun, the Gumbo Limbo and Mahogany Hammock trails are perfect. The Pa-hay-okee Overlook trail gives you a sense of the huge expanse of this river of grass.
Any further exploration has to be done by boat, either on your own or by guided tour. We opted for the Backcountry Tour offered a Flamingo visitor center. The relaxing 2-hour trip through Buttonwood Canal and Coot Bay is a great way to learn about the plants and animals indigenous to the area – we even sighted crocodiles and dolphins swimming amongst the mangrove.
Fun fact: The Everglades is the only place in the world where both American Alligator and Crocodile co-exist.
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