When considering of American nationwide parks, most individuals instantly think about Zion’s red-rock majesty, El Capitan in Yosemite, or maybe Yellowstone’s Previous Trustworthy. Whereas they could not image a large swamp, a seemingly limitless swath of the Atlantic Ocean, or a Nineteenth-century fort, these locations symbolize three of the nation’s most biologically numerous and charming nationwide parks. And all three are positioned on the southern tip of Florida.
Everglades Nationwide Park
Finest park for wildlife viewing
Whereas almost all nationwide parks are spectacular, Everglades may very well be thought-about a biodiversity overachiever. Along with its nationwide parks designation, the park can also be categorized as an Worldwide Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of Worldwide Significance, and a World Heritage Web site. Everglades’ 1.5 million acres of wetlands include greater than 120 totally different tree species, almost 40 kinds of orchids, and a whole lot of forms of wildlife, together with alligators, crocodiles, manatees, and the state’s namesake – and critically endangered – panther.
Hikers will discover a small community of trails behind every of the three customer facilities. One of many best and most well-known is the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm, a .8-mile boardwalk path the place guests can stroll alongside the sawgrass marsh. When you have somewhat extra time and introduced a motorcycle (or want to lease one), take a spin on the Shark Valley Path, which winds 15 miles beneath a cover of cypress, palm, and mangrove timber.
The western aspect of the park is good for exploring by kayak, with a number of marked canoe trails. The granddaddy of all of them is the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway, connecting Flamingo and Everglades Metropolis. That journey takes about eight days for skilled paddlers, who can camp on the various seashores and wooded platforms scattered all through the route. (Backcountry permits are required.)
Visiting Everglades Nationwide Park: The japanese gateways into Everglades are about an hour away from Miami, making it an extremely simple day journey. Though there are not any lodges inside the park, guests can in a single day at Lengthy Pine Key (open throughout the park’s peak season, November via Might) and Flamingo (year-round) campgrounds, with charges beginning round $25. Convey a number of insect repellent; mosquitoes could be brutal throughout the summer season.
Biscayne Nationwide Park
Finest park for scuba divers, snorkelers, and different water lovers
Most of this nationwide park’s 173,000 acres is ocean, so to get the total Biscayne expertise, you have to discover by boat. Guests flock to the park to catch a glimpse of migrating neo-tropical water birds and a whole lot of sorts of reef fish (fishing is permitted with a legitimate Florida fishing license), in addition to dolphins, endangered sea turtles, and extra dwelling alongside the world’s third-longest coral reef tract. Divers can discover the remnants of six shipwrecked boats mendacity on the ocean flooring.
Above the floor, the park encompasses the northernmost Florida Keys, together with Elliott and Boca Chita Keys. Stiltsville has been battered by hurricanes since its days of being an off-shore playing and vice haven, and now solely seven of the unique buildings stay. The Nationwide Park Service has been working to guard and protect the stilt homes as a reminder of the realm’s lawless previous and to doubtlessly function training facilities sooner or later.
Guests preferring to hike have a couple of choices, together with the so-called Spite Path that runs down the center of Elliott Key. The 7-mile, one-way path is the remnants of a six-lane street inbuilt 1968 by builders offended the federal authorities deliberate to show the realm right into a park. Fortunately, the land finally reclaimed that bulldozed swath, leaving an intimate dust path via a phenomenal hardwood forest.
Visiting Biscayne Nationwide Park: There’s no charge to enter the park. The Biscayne National Park Institute presents a number of paid guided water excursions, providing guests an opportunity to discover by way of sailboat, kayak, or underwater with scuba or snorkeling gear. In case you introduced your personal boat, skilled paddlers can kayak lower than 10 miles from the customer middle to Elliott or Boca Chita Keys, the place they’ll discover the islands and camp for $25 an evening. (There’s no RV tenting contained in the park, however you’ll find loads of privately owned choices all through the Keys and alongside the mainland.) The 65ft Boca Chita Lighthouse presents nice views of Miami and the encircling panorama, however is normally solely manned throughout the September to Might peak season.
Dry Tortugas Nationwide Park
Finest park for historical past lovers
Fort Jefferson was constructed within the Nineteenth century on Backyard Key to defend American waters from pirates. In the course of the Civil Struggle, it turned a key strategic base for Union forces, blocking Accomplice provide ships. Within the aftermath of the warfare, the fortress turned a jail. Its most well-known prisoner, Dr. Samuel Mudd, handled John Wilkes Sales space’s damaged leg hours after he assassinated Lincoln and was later tried and convicted for being considered one of Sales space’s co-conspirators. Throughout a yellow-fever epidemic on the island, Mudd started treating sufferers after the navy physician died within the outbreak. Credited by each the navy and his fellow prisoners for saving dozens, if not a whole lot of lives, Mudd finally earned a pardon in addition to a plaque on the fortress partitions. Years later, Ernest Hemingway and a gaggle of mates have been marooned on the fort for greater than two weeks as sturdy storms battered the island.
After touring the fort, most guests head all the way down to one of many island’s small seashores, the place they swim, snorkel, or sunbathe till it’s time to go again to civilization.
Visiting Dry Tortugas Nationwide Park: Like Biscayne, there’s no charge to enter Dry Tortuga’s waters, however there’s a little bit of a catch. When you have your personal boat and plan to cease on one of many islands, you’ll want a free allow, which you may get in-person on the Backyard Key boathouse. In case you don’t have your personal boat, you’ll have to take a ferry, seaplane, or private charter to get to Fort Jefferson. Plan forward early, as reservations go quick. Anticipate to pay $200 or extra per individual.
If you wish to lengthen your go to, primitive tenting is on the market on Backyard Key on a first-come, first-serve basis. Make sure you convey every little thing you want, as there’s no camp retailer to purchase provides. All trash should be carried out.