Vast and remote, the Ten Thousand Islands off Florida’s southwest coast seems challenging to visit, a labyrinth of twisting channels through thousands of remote mangrove islands.
Since Hurricane Wilma destroyed lodging in Flamingo in 2005, the only way to stay overnight in Everglades National Park has been to camp. At last, new lodging has opened at Flamingo — 20 eco-tents, a cross beween a tent and a cabin, with beds and linens but using a central bath facility.
Renting a houseboat in Everglades National Park lets you glide into the wilderness of Whitewater Bay and experience its splendor at dawn, at sunset and marvel at its starry skies. Fishermen will love it, but even without fishing, there’s plenty to enjoy.
Big Cypress National Preserve offers excellent Everglades experiences. It’s adjacent to the famous national park, is free and has some spectacular scenery.
Flamingo is a long way from the entrance to Everglades National Park, but we love it for the wildlife — manatees, crocodiles and an osprey nest right in the marina. Kayaking into Florida Bay is a splendid way to see the many birds and spectacular scenery. Our guide provides tips for hiking too.
Cape Sable is 11 miles from Flamingo, the end of the road in Everglades National Park. It’s a wild and wonderful destination for a canoe/kayak camping adventure.
One of the best ways to see Florida’s Everglades is via the Tamiami Trail to the Shark Valley entrance, home to a terrific bike trail and abundant wildlife.
The free trolley from Homestead to Everglades National Park & Biscayne National Park runs every winter weekend. Riders enter free, saving the $30 admission.
Backcountry camping permits can now be reserved online. Meantime, Veterans and Gold Star Families no longer have to pay entrance fees to national parks.
Explore dozens of islands in Florida waters where you can enjoy soft breezes, gentle surf and soaring birds while camping under the stars. (You’ll need a boat, canoe or a kayak.)
I’ve paddled a lot of trails in the Everglades, but so far, the Turner River is my favorite. It goes from pristine cypress swamp, through mangrove tunnels to sawgrass marsh, and it teems with birds, gators and fish. It’s everything the Everglades offers in one trip.
Several national parks in Florida are hidden treasures. In honor of National Public Lands Day Sept. 26, when national parks are free, here’s a guide to Florida’s national parks, from the famous to the obscure.
In the middle of Everglades National Park is the best preserved Nike missile base in South Florida, a relic of the Cold War and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Today it reminds us of those days of John F. Kennedy, fallout shelters and Bob Dylan protest songs.
Whoever named this kayak trail Hell’s Bay was giving you a hint: It won’t be easy. During National Parks Week at the end of April, I paddled this forbiddingly named trail. It’s mile after mile of mangroves with tight twists and turns that make going slow. If you’re heading for a backcountry camping site — a chickee on a platform in the middle of the Everglades wilderness — then this trail is worth the trouble. If not, well, I have some suggestions for you.
Our Everglades National Park paddle on the Coot Bay/Mud Lake trail offered two hours of gorgeous scenery through magical mangrove tunnels. It also required about two hours of hard paddling against the wind.
Kayaks and canoes are one of the best ways to surround yourself in the Everglades. Here’s a guide to the trails in the national park.
Halfway Creek is a well-marked kayak trail just off the Tamiami Trail. It’s good for short or long paddles, taking you to a wild green world thick with airplants.