No trip to South Florida is complete without a journey through the lush, subtropical wilderness of the Everglades.
Although the Glades lacks towering mountains, gaping canyons or majestic waterfalls, this national park – the third largest – is perhaps more remarkable. Its 1.5 million acres of water, sawgrass, mangroves and teardrop-shaped tree clusters comprise a river, a slow-moving table of water that supports a complex ecosystem of habitats and wildlife species as it flows south from Lake Okeechobee into Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The Everglades is the only such environment on Earth.
The Everglades draws thousands of visitors every year. Most people venture out during the dry, cool winter months from December to April, when wildlife flourishes and the weather is better suited for an outdoor trek. During this time of year, temperatures range from the mid-80s to the chilly 40s at night, and you’re likely to see sunbathing alligators and graceful wading birds by the hundreds.
Summer in the Glades is hot, muggy and buggy – if you plan a visit, make sure to pack sunscreen and insect repellant. Rainy season temperatures soar into the 90s, and afternoon thunderstorms blow in daily, so make sure to pack an umbrella or poncho. Despite the hot weather and relatively sparse
wildlife, there are still plenty of nature’s wonders to behold.
The Everglades appeal to all kinds of travelers, and we’ve put together itineraries for exploring the River of Grass two ways – one for lovers of airboats and tourist traps, the other for those who want to commune with nature.
Day One: Tourist
Airboats, reptile wrestling, Indian villages and more…
Day Two: Nature-lover
Hiking, biking, kayaking and more…
Also, check out our guide on how to prepare for your trip: Preparing for the Everglades.
An Everglades vista: overlooking Ponce de Leon Bay. Photo: Tim Chapman