Admission is $30 per car to Everglades National Park (as of Jan. 10, 2019), but if you take a free trolley from Homestead on weekends this winter, you get in free.
The trolley system in Homestead links visitors with Homestead’s two national parks – Everglades and Biscayne National Park – as well as to Homestead Bayfront Park, which features a natural atoll pool for swimming.
The trolley will operate every weekend from Dec. 29, 2018 to April 21, 2019.
Visitors can use the free parking in Homestead and then use the trolley to visit either or both parks.
The trolley has been offered for several years, but this year there are additional things you can do at each park, according to Homestead Public Information Officer Zachery Good.
Biscayne National Park offers additional boat tours, including snorkeling tours. (Florida Rambler’s story on the Biscayne National Park boat tours.) You also can rent kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards there.
On Saturdays, a trolley inside Everglades National Park takes people to the historic Nike Missile Base, where tours are offered. (Florida Rambler’s story on visiting the historic Nike base.)
The trolley to Everglades National Park stops first at the excellent Coe Visitor Center (worth a visit) and then goes to Royal Palm, home of the Anhinga Trail, the most reliable place to see alligators and wading birds up close. There is a second hike leaving from there – the Gumbo Limbo Trail – and there are often ranger talks there too. It’s easy to spend several hours at this location.
From there, visitors take the trolley back to the visitor center and then on to Homestead.
Except for the addition of the trolley that will bring visitors to the 2 p.m. tour of the Nike base on Saturdays, there is no additional public transportation into the rest of the large park this year.
If you catch the 9 a.m. tour to either national park, it is possible to visit both parks in one day, Good said. “I’ve done it, and it is a pretty long exhausting day, but it’s possible.”
Last year, the trolley transported 15,000 visitors, Good said. In winter, it is especially popular with foreign visitors.
It is possible to reach the park from Miami all on Miami-Dade County Public Transportation. The trolley site recommends you use the Miami-Dade Transit Trip Planner at MiamiDade.gov for a step-by-step guide on catching bus 38 to Losner Park, 104 N. Krome Ave., where the trolley stops.