The Best of the Everglades
The Everglades National Park is one of the most popular nature reserves in the world – over a million tourists
visit the World Heritage site everyday. The Everglades is known for its alligators, exotic birds, beautiful open
grassy areas, and countless miles of cypress and swamp forests.
If you’re planning to head there for a look-see, here are some activities and sights/sounds you don’t want to
The Anhinga Trail is a short trail of just under half a mile that you can take with your family. It begins at the
Royal Palm Visitor Center, which is about 4 miles from the entrance of the park. The trail goes over Taylor
Slough, which is a wetland full of turtles, herons, alligators, egrets and, of course, the colorful anhinga. The
anhinga is a colorful water bird that is common to the area.
The word “anhinga” means snake bird in the Brazilian Tupi language. The bird has a neck like that of a snake,
so that it looks like it’s always ready to strike.
Shark Valley is one of the best places in the Everglades to spot wildlife. Shark Valley has a trail and an
observation tower from which you can spot wildlife like ibis, alligators, raccoons, white-tailed dear and wood
storks. It has a Visitor Center where you can learn more about the park and spot alligators in the Shark River
with an underwater camera. Shark Valley is actually a depression which floods during the rainy season – hence
the name “Valley” It joins the Shark River and is famous for the beautiful sawgrass prairie it supports.
Royal Palm Visitor Center
The Royal Palm Visitor Center is a must visit, especially when you’re pressed for time. The Center houses a
bookstore and vending machines. You can learn more about the Everglades from the books and find
informational brochures here.
The Royal Palm Visitor Center joins the Anhinga Trail boardwalk and the Gumbo Limbo Trail – two of the
most popular trails in the Everglades. These two trails give you a glimpse of the diversity of the ecosystems that
you can find in the reserve. You can find guided tours here, as well as bike tours and starlight walks.
Loop Road is a 24 mile road that you can take with a car. It’s a long drive through the wilderness of the
Everglades (in the Big Cypress National Wildlife Refuge). The first few miles of the road are a smooth drive
and after that the road is full of potholes. You can see a great variety of wildlife from the trail, like alligators,
deer, otters and, if you’re very lucky, the Florida panther. Sometimes the alligators wander onto the road, so be
sure to drive carefully.
We also recommend you sign up for an Everglades airboat tour. The best way to experience the wetlands and
see the wildlife is from the comfort of a powerful airboat operated by an experienced captain. That way, you
can be sure you won’t miss anything.