Everglades National Park

National Park in The Everglades

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Encompassing 1.5 million acres, this vast wilderness is one of America's great natural treasures. As a major draw for visitors to South Florida, your biggest challenge is deciding to opt for quiet pleasures like spying alligators basking in the noonday sun as herons patiently stalk their prey in nearby waters, or going the active route and kayaking in tangled mangrove canals, then wading through murky knee-high waters among cypress domes on a rough-and ready 'slough slog.'

There are sunrise strolls on boardwalks amid the awakening glimmers of birdsong, and moonlit glimpses of gators swimming gracefully by narrow channels in search of dinner. There's also backcountry camping, bicycle tours and ranger-led activities that help bring the magic of this place to life.

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); a second 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. The admission fee covers the whole park, and is good for seven consecutive days.