Tips for Visiting the Everglades
Some tips to make your Everglades experience enjoyable instead of miserable.
Best time to visit: December-March
Summer is hot and humid and the mosquitoes make life misery.
Best time to see animals: December-March
This is the traditional dry season when the deep holes in the otherwise shallow grassy plain makes attractive holding ponds for fish, which draw in the birds and the alligators. During the rainy season, when wildlife is dispersed throughout the wetlands, animals are much harder to see.
Come early, stay late: A lot of feeding activity takes place just after sunrise and before sunset. Of course, anything can happen at any time of day, and usually does.
Stay in Florida City: Unless you're camping, the closest motels are in Florida City, about 25 minutes away, depending on traffic. Lodging comes in all price ranges. Having a microwave and refrigerator in your room is a big advantage for a fast breakfast.
Bring food and drink: Pack an ice chest with sandwiches, drinks and plenty of water. It can be warm even in the winter. There are no supplies except at Flamingo.
Have at least half a tank of gas: Once you leave the outskirts of Homestead, there is nowhere to stop for fuel. Not the ideal place to run out of gas.
Carry a workable cell phone: Some cell networks don't work in the Everglades wilderness, though it's getting better. A cell is the best way to call for help if your vehicle breaks down or someone is injured.
Leave your pet at home: Pets, which must be on a leash, are permitted only on roadways open to public vehicles and in roadside campgrounds and picnic areas. Never on the trails.
Bring a cover for your vehicle. Why you may want to pack tarps and ropes to cover your ride. Vultures are destroying windshield wipers and more.
Visit the same areas more than once: There is a pattern according to time of day. Just because you stopped at a spot on the way to Flamingo doesn't mean you shouldn't also stop by on the way back. What you could be very different . . . or more of the same. You can never know.
Be camera ready as you drive: Everglades animals are accustomed to traffic, and they can suddenly dart out of the brush and appear running alongside the road. Have your camera ready.
Close car doors quietly: Nothing announces your arrival better than a loud mechanical sound. Or loud talking and laughter. The animals may seem semi-tame but they are not.
Carry extra mosquito repellent: Carry it in your car and keep it handy. Once a day may not be enough. In the dry season, you may not need it all, but you never know.
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