Planning your trip to the Sunshine State? Visiting the Florida Everglades from Naples is fun, accessible and…exciting! Whether you want to go searching for manatees, alligators, or birding. You can enjoy all types of marine life and wildlife from Everglades National Park.
In this post, we cover ranger programs and activities, and self-guided tours offered at Everglades National Park Gulf Coast and what you need to do to participate in one.
10 ways to enjoy your visit to the Everglades National Park:
1. Ernest Coe Visitor Center
Books, film, postcards, and insect repellent may be purchased in the adjoining bookstore. A series of popular walking trails begin only a short drive from the visitor center. Restrooms are available.
The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center is open 365 days a year. It offers educational displays, orientation films, and informational brochures. Special collections by local artists are often displayed.
2. Airboat Tours
Climb aboard their well maintained and state of the art airboats for a one of a kind Everglades airboat tour experience. Their guides are native Floridians who will take you deep into our 200-acre preserve for a tour that’s one part education and two parts fun. Prepare yourself for exotic tropical wildlife and lush plants as the Florida Everglades spreads out before you. During your Everglades day tour you’ll glide effortlessly through waterways and marshlands, down paths and around ponds. Be sure to keep a lookout for alligators!
3. Shark Valley Tram Tour
The Everglades is a unique and fascinating ecosystem. When you take an Everglades National Park tour at Shark Valley, you’ll travel in a relaxed setting, learning about the ecology and history of The Everglades from our friendly and knowledgeable Park-trained naturalists. They’ll turn your sightseeing visit into a highly educational tour of the Everglades, and at the halfway point on your adventure, you can walk to the highest accessible point in Everglades National Park, the viewing platform of the Shark Valley Observation Tower.
4. Shark Valley Observation Tower
This flat, paved road is used for tram rides, bicycling, and walking. Along the road, you may see alligators, herons, egrets, deer, turtles, and snail kites. An observation tower at the halfway point provides panoramic views. Below the Observation Tower is a short trail through a tropical hardwood hammock. Bicycles can be rented from the Shark Valley Tram Tour Company.
5. Gumbo Limbo Trail
This self-guiding, paved trail meanders through a shaded, jungle-like hammock of gumbo limbo trees (Bursera simaruba), royal palms (Roystonea elata), ferns, and air plants. It starts from the Royal Palm Visitor Center, four miles (6 km) from the main park entrance/Ernest Coe Visitor Center.
6. Anhinga Trail
This self-guiding trail winds through a sawgrass marsh, where you may see alligators, turtles, anhingas, herons, egrets, and many other birds, especially during the winter. This is one of the most popular trails in the park because of its abundance of wildlife. It starts from the Royal Palm Visitor Center, four miles (6 km) from the main park entrance/Ernest Coe Visitor Center.
7. Mahogany Hammock
This self-guiding boardwalk trail meanders through a dense, jungle-like hardwood “hammock.” Lush vegetation includes gumbo-limbo trees, air plants, and the largest living mahogany tree (Swietenia mahogani) in the United States. Directions to Trail: Twenty miles (32 km) from the main park entrance/ Ernest Coe Visitor Center.
8. Bicycle Tours
This tour, lasting two hours, allows visitors to tour Everglades City with the help of a ranger. Guests who take this tour will be able to learn about the history of the city and the area. This tour starts at 10 am, and requires guests to bring a bike with them, either one that they own, or to rent one. This tour is only held during the dry season, or wintertime.
9. Canoe the Glades
These tours enable visitors to see the park in a way they wouldn’t get to see with the boat tour. This is because these tours are longer than an hour and a half, only occur when a reservation has been made, which means that the ranger can go into more detail about the flora and fauna in the park, the ecosystem that makes up the 10,000 Islands and the Western Everglades, in addition to the park itself according to the individual interests of the visitor. In order to attend one of these tours, you must make a reservation in advance.
10. Beginners Course: Saltwater Fishing
Saltwater fishing is a very popular activity within the park. After all, this park is the gateway to the 10,000 Islands, which is considered to be one of the best fishing destinations in the world. However, some of you visiting the park might have never done saltwater fishing before, or maybe you haven’t done it in a while. This course is really just a fun drop-in activity that can help guests to Everglades National Park learn or refresh their skills in saltwater fishing in a way that is very informal, economical, and most importantly, very fun!
Please note that not all of these activities are held year-round, and the website doesn’t clearly state which activities are available all year long or not. In order to get the best information, you must contact the Gulf Coast visitor’s center directly at 239-695-3311. For more information on Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Center and the other visitor’s centers related to Everglades National Park, visit their website at http://www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm.