Exploring the vast national park that encompasses the Florida Everglades is an adventure every RV camper should experience. The wildlife, scenery and enormous land and water mass of Everglades National Park come together to create an unparalleled camping experience. If you’ve never been, you may be wondering if it’s all about ‘gators and airboats, but there’s so much more to discover when you come to South Florida’s ecological treasure.
Camping Opportunities You’ll Find in the Everglades
The National Park Service serves up top-notch camping facilities in all fifty states, and campgrounds at Everglades National Park are no exception.
Two campgrounds within the National Park can accommodate RVs—Flamingo Campground and Long Pine Key Campground. You may find portions of the campgrounds closed during wet season (May to October) but they are both wide open and welcoming campers every day from November to April.
If you choose to camp at Long Pine Key, you’ll be on the Park’s southeast side, near the Homestead entrance. The quickest route is through Miami, south on the Florida Turnpike to Florida City. This plan positions you to explore the Long Pine Key Trail (see below) and the wildlife-rich trails connected to the Royal Palm Visitor Center. This is a no-hookups campground but water and a dump station are available. Campsites are first-come, first-served.
Farther south, at Florida’s most southern tip, Flamingo Campground has developed campsites, dump stations and solar showers. It’s also accessed via the Homestead entrance by traveling about forty miles into the park past Long Pine Key and the Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook to the Flamingo Visitor Center. Camping at Flamingo puts you close to plenty of outdoor adventure, with easy access to water and hiking trails. We strongly advise reserving your campsite if you plan to stay at Flamingo Campground during the winter months.
Wildlife You Can Find in the Everglades
With more than a million acres covering the gamut from sawgrass prairie to mangrove swamps, you won’t miss out on wildlife watching opportunities when you visit the Everglades.
As you hike the trails, take a tram tour, paddle a canoe or take advantage of access points like the Shark Valley observation tower, you might just see not only alligators but also saltwater crocodiles, West Indian Manatees, bottle-nosed dolphins, several species of bats and an abundance of wading birds.
Depending on the habitat, you may cross paths with raccoons, grey fox, river otters and flying squirrels. Keep your eyes on the ‘River of Grass’ in all its forms—there’s always some kind of creature making its way through this one-of-a-kind sanctuary.
Outdoor Recreation You’ll Find in the Everglades
We’ve mentioned wildlife viewing and RV camping, but what else is there to do outdoors at Everglades National Park? Plenty!
The extensive paddling, biking and hiking trail system within the Park can keep you busy for weeks, so let’s talk about some of the most popular pathways:
- Anhinga and Gumbo-Limbo Hiking Trails, Royal Palm Visitor Center: Anhinga Trail is a little less than a mile long, full loop, and is accessible. Lots of bird and wildlife watching along the way. The shorter, quarter mile, Gumbo-Limbo Trail is also paved and wheelchair accessible, offering a quick view of the coastal hammock habitat.
- Bayshore Loop Hiking Trail: Two miles long and offering a view of Florida Bay, this trail can be reached via the Flamingo Campground.
- Shark Valley Biking Scenic Loop: This fifteen mile bike trail is for experienced bicyclists able to make the whole loop, but it is also a terrific opportunity to observe wildlife, birds and the ever-changing landscape of the Everglades. If you’re not up for the bike ride, tram tours are also available for this loop.
- Ten Thousand Islands Water Trails: Experienced paddlers will find the perfect challenge by following one of the water trails along the Gulf Coast of the Everglades. Start at the canoe launch at Everglades City and follow your chosen trail toward Big Cypress National Preserve. Not confident of your ability to paddle these backcountry trails safely? There are boat tours available, so you won’t miss out on the mystery and beauty of this vast wilderness area.
You can also indulge in saltwater and freshwater fishing at many spots throughout the National Park. Check the website for information on other activities such as birdwatching, kayaking and eco tours for an in-depth Everglades experience.
Setting up camp in Florida’s Everglades National Park can be the beginning of one of your best RV vacations. Make plans to visit now by reserving your Miami RV rental and planning your Everglades activities. The River of Grass is waiting to take you on the ultimate outdoor adventure.