Introducing Everglades National Park
Although the grassy waters – the Everglades ecosystem – extend outside Everglades National Park (the third-largest in the continental USA), you really need to enter the park to experience it. There are three main entrances and three main areas of the park: one along the southeast edge near Homestead and Florida City (Ernest Coe section); at the central-north side on the Tamiami Trail (Shark Valley section); and a third at the northwest shore (Gulf Coast section), past Everglades City. The Shark Valley and Gulf Coast sections of the park come one after the other in geographic succession, but the Ernest Coe area is entirely separate. At all of these entrances you’ll pay $10 for a vehicle pass, or $5 if you’re a cyclist, both of which are good for entrance for seven consecutive days into any entrance in the park.
These entrances allow for two good road trips from Miami. The first choice is heading west along the Tamiami Trail, past the Miccosukee reservation and Shark Valley, all the way to Everglades City, the Gulf Coast and the crystal waters of the 10,000 Islands.
The other option is to enter at Ernest Coe and take State Rd 9336 to Flamingo through the most ‘Glades-y’ landscape in the park, with unbroken vistas of wet prairie, big sky and long silences.