The Main Park Entrance is about one hour South-West from Miami, in Florida City near Homestead. This is also where the Park Headquarters are located.
Your starting point will be the Ernest C. Coe Visitor Center. This Visitor Center is open year-round and is where you get maps of the area and helpful advice from the rangers. They can tell you about recent wildlife sightings and recommend programs or things to do based on your interests and the amount of time you have available.
There are great educational exhibits here as well, a short film about the Everglades and informational pamphlets that tell you about the area and conservation efforts.
Once armed with all the information and maps you can cross the Main Entrance Gate where you pay the $10 per vehicle Park Fee and start exploring.
A few miles on the main road will lead you to the Royal Palm Visitor Center. This isn't more than a small shop with souvenirs and a few books, definitely not in the scale of the Ernest C. Coe Visitor Center. However, Royal Palm is the gateway to two of the most popular trails in the park: the Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail.
The Anhinga Trail is without a doubt the better of the two, full of wildlife and covering a diversity of landscapes in a vast array of boardwalks and paved stretches that get you up close with nature. Here's just a sample of what we encounter on one of our recent visits:
Here's more on the Anhinga Trail.
The Gumbo Limbo Trail, in contrast, is a shorter trail, about 0.4 miles on a paved path that cuts through a subtropical hardwood hammock. This trail is shaded and can be done in a half-hour. It is very different from the openness of the Anhinga Trail. Watch out for mosquitoes!
Where?: The Ernest C. Coe Visitor Center is located at 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034. It is about an hour drive from Miami. Directions: Take the Florida Turnpike South until it ends at US 1 at Florida City. Turn right at the first traffic light onto Palm Drive (State Road 9336/SW 344th St.) and follow the signs to the park.
See the Florida Everglades Map here.
Park Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Entrance Fee: $20 per Vehicle, motorcycles $15, $8 pedestrians (16+) or bicycles. The Park Fee is good for entrance into the Park at any of its other locations within 7 days.
Other Ammenities: Restrooms
What's Nearby?: Many Airboat Tours Operators before the park entrance, you can combine an Airboat Ride with a visit to the Park.
You can continue driving on the main road to Flamingo, the gateway to Florida Bay, just 30 miles away, it will take you about an hour. Best way to see the park here is from the water and it's a totally different environment and landscape.
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