The Everglades National Park was established in 1947 to protect areas of Florida’s Everglades and the important ecosystem they foster. To date, the park protects 20% of the Everglades and the wildlife that comes with it over a total area of 6,110 km2 (2,359.1 sq mi). The Park is also an International Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar Wetland site.
The Everglades National park is almost completely covered with water during the wet seasons (May to November), when most of the animals will be spread across the park. In the dry winter seasons (December to April), huge volumes of animals clump together in areas which retain the most water.
The Park is home to at least 36 threatened or protected animal species, such as the Florida Panther and American crocodile; and equally rare plant life. It is a significant breeding ground for a number of rare birds, including North America’s most significant breeding site for tropical wading birds. There are five species of endangered or threatened sea turtle living within the Park’s boundaries.
Due to diversity of activities and abundance of things to see, the Park receives nearly one million visitors a year. There are numerous walking trails, both guided and self-guided, that vary in difficulty and allow visitors to get close to the amazing wildlife and plant life here. Trails include those suitable for off-road cycling and rugged treks through mangrove swamps and dense forests. Camping is available – both close to civilisation and in the backcountry (by permit only).
Some trails are closed or impassable in the wet season because of mosquitoes and high water levels. Swimming is not recommended anywhere in the park due to the abundance of snakes, turtles, alligators and crocodiles in freshwater; and sharks and sharp coral under salt water.