Flamingo Everglades National Park


Flamingo, Everglades National Park

The old fishing town has become the park favorite

 

 

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Flamingo, Florida
Everglades National Park

Originally, the old fishing village of Flamingo could be reached only by boat, traveling across Florida Bay and later through the Homestead-Flamingo Canal.

Today, you can drive right up to the Flamingo visitor center and marina at the Everglades’ southernmost tip.

Will you see flamingoes at Flamingo? Probably not, although some claim to have seen them in Everglades backcountry for the first time in years.

Flamingo is the gateway to Florida Bay and the coastal prairie. Florida Bay, a huge expanse larger than some states, extends from Flamingo to the Keys. It is incredibly shallow with parts of it dry at low tide. Nine feet is the maximum recorded depth.

Florida Bay is ideal habitat for the scores of birds that feed on the mud flats and in the shallows. Look for sandpipers, ospreys, egrets, pelicans, and others.

The magnificent snowy egret once thrived here in such large numbers that in the late 1800s Flamingo became an important center for the trade in bird plumage.

Thousands of egrets, roseate spoonbills, and others were killed to supply plumage for women’s clothing.

The collecting methods were particularly brutal. Plumage hunters normally waited until the birds were nesting, when the plumage was at its finest and the birds easiest to kill.

Hunters would kill all the adult birds in a nest and leave the young to die.

The National Audubon Society ended this wholesale slaughter by having the sale of plumage outlawed in New York, headquarters of the fashion industry.

Walking the coastal prairie bordering Florida Bay, you will see such salt tolerant plants as mangroves and grasses.

You’ll notice hardwood hammocks, too, which survive here thanks to the Indian shell mounds that keep their root system high and dry. These trees are also stunted because of the salty, harsh environment.

Flamingo offers 8 separate hikes through the coastland.  Most walks are less than 5 miles, but a 14-mile roundtrip coastal trek will take most of a day. See map.

Or you can overnight on the Coastal Prairie Trail with the appropriate backcountry permit.

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