We all know Florida is known as the Sunshine State and surrounded by beautiful coastlines. But did you know it has the largest subtropical wilderness? Miami isn’t the only place in South Florida worth road-tripping to. Florida’s Everglades National Park is inhabited by numerous rare and endangered species like the Florida Panther, American Crocodile, and Manatees. You can also get weekly passes which means camping in Florida! Based on that alone, I’d say you’ll want to go check it out and you will also want to be prepared for the journey. The park is 1.5 million acres of wetland so hiring out a small campervan is a must if you plan on more than a one day trip. Keep in mind there are only three entrances to the park from Miami, Everglades City, or Homestead. Hence why renting a campervan for your journey is a convenient and comfortable option. They come fully equipped and keep the bugs out more so than a tent!
What else comes to mind when you hear the words Everglades? I think of adventure trails, stargazing, and soaking up the surrounding sounds of nature! So let’s talk about what you can do in an ecosystem covering 2,400 square miles. Activities that are campervan friendly and opportunities to meet new people along the way.
One of these would be a Ranger Lead tour, which means you get to hear from the locals and people who are passionate about the park. The rangers offer bike tours, canoe trips, and campfire tours just to name a few. Be sure to plan ahead as ranger tours are mainly available in the dry season between November and March.
Up for a bike ride? There are plenty of options like the Rowdy Bend Bike trail for some woodland bird watching. Did I mention the Bald Eagle population is the second largest in Florida? This bike trail will also lead you to other sections of the park like the Snake Bight Trail and the Flamingo Visitor Center. In the Flamingo or Gulf Coast area you can take a boat tour which is an experience in itself. It will take you deeper into the parks wild wonders, giving you the chance to see an American Alligator or American Crocodile depending if you are in saltwater or freshwater. If you are near freshwater lookout for manatees. They are one of Florida’s endangered species. You may also come across wild pigs, wild turkeys, and a more distinctive bird that keeps to the shallow water: a Roseate Spoonbill.
If you are more of an “on foot” type of person, you can explore the wetlands via a hike. It doesn’t need to belong and there are a couple of short ones just off the Tram Road behind the Shark Valley Visitors Center. Look out for it, it’s called the Bobcat Boardwalk and It’s about 0.5 miles (800 meters) one way. This scenic walk leads you towards a bayhead swamp from there you will come across views of sawgrass prairie. There are benches along the way where you can rest above a flowing stream. Be sure to notice the purple pickerelweed blossom and cocoplum’s round leaves.
Now if you want to be even more adventurous and you are prepared to get dirty, then Slough Slogging is the way to go. Make sure you’re ready with water, healthy snacks, long pants, and rubber boots (or shoes that are sturdy, closed, and you don’t mind having to toss afterward). You will be guided by a ranger as this is an off-trail experience where you will learn more about Everglades flora and fauna. With all this being said, get out there, rent yourself a campervan, take a road trip down to the Everglades, and treat yourself to an outdoor Florida camping experience with your travel buddies. This is a great way to switch off as you will literally have limited phone service. Come back to nature, it’s a grounding and enriching venture.