An unparalleled landscape of exceptional beauty, Everglades National Park encompasses 1.5 million acres of subtropical wilderness in South Florida. Everglades National Park was established on December 6, 1947, and 70 years later, it remains an international treasure attracting visitors from around the world.
Check out these interesting facts about this vast and unique national park:
1. Everglades National Park is home to one of the largest wetlands in the world. Nine distinct habitats have been identified in the park, including pine rocklands, coastal lowlands and marine waters. But the park is best known for its mangroves, sawgrass prairies, and freshwater slough that draws water from Lake Okeechobee southward.
2. The work to preserve the Everglades started nearly 20 years before the park was established. In the 1800s, speculators started dredging and draining the Everglades, but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the harmful side effects were apparent. In 1928, landscape architect Ernest Coe began an effort to designate a national park in south Florida. His persistence paid off when Congress passed legislation in 1934 to establish Everglades National Park. It took another 13 years to acquire the land and define the boundaries of the new park.
3. The Everglades is teeming with plant and animal species not found anywhere else on the planet. The Everglades provides important habitat for numerous species like the manatee, American crocodile and the elusive Florida panther. The park has long been a birder’s paradise -- it is the winter home of more than 360 different species of birds. Check out tips for staying safe while viewing wildlife.
4. The Everglades receives an average of 60 inches of rain a year. To put that in perspective, Seattle, Washington, receives a little more than half of that annual amount! And since water is the lifeblood of the “River of Grass,” the summer wet season usually gets to the glades just in time to cool things down. Southern Florida doesn’t have much of a winter, but it’s during this time that the Everglades get a break from warmer temperatures and heavy rains.
5. Exploring the third largest national park in the lower 48 states can be quite adventurous. Visitors can canoe or kayak hundreds of miles of water trails, bike through pine rocklands or enjoy world-class fishing. If you are feeling extra adventurous, experience a side of the Everglades that most people never see by joining a ranger-led hike called slough slogging -- where you’ll be waist-deep in the pristine Florida swamp. Check out more amazing activities to experience in the Everglades.
6. Evidence of human settlement in Florida’s southern tip dates back thousands of years. From the original Archaic period settlements to the modern tribal communities of the Miccosukee and Seminole Indians, the region has a rich history of human culture. Settlers known as “Gladesmen” explored south Florida’s natural landscape, coming to rely on its abundant fish, game and plantlife. Learn more about the people who have called the Everglades home throughout the ages.
7. Invasive species are threatening the Everglades ecosystem. Far from their native homelands, invasive species like Burmese python have dominated headlines in recent years. While eradication measures are continually being pursued, detection rates and a lack natural predators give them an advantage over native species in the Everglades. Learn what you can do to help the park control the populations of pythons in the Everglades.
8. Everglades National Park contains the largest contiguous stand of protected mangroves in the western hemisphere. The word mangrove is used to describe a cluster of several trees -- all with impenetrable root systems and the ability to flourish in salty environments. Both mysterious and beautiful, mangroves help clean water clean while also providing shelter to marine organisms. During the dry months, wading birds congregate here to feed and nest, and in the summer, the mangroves provide the first line of erosion defense against the winds and waves of tropical storms and hurricanes.
9. A Nike Hercules Missile Base is still housed in the heart of Everglades National Park. This site remains in virtually the same condition as it did during the Cold War. Park visitors can take guided tours of the base and occasionally meet soldiers who were stationed there during the conflict with the Soviet Union. Learn more about Nike Missile tours.
10. An intergovernmental partnership is working to restore the Greater Everglades ecosystem, which extends beyond the park’s border. Widely known as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program, this vast environmental undertaking is critical to the area’s freshwater supply, biodiversity and flood control. The park and the pristine blue water that encompasses its southern boundary will one day enjoy a virtually endless supply of clean, fresh water as a result of Everglades restoration.
There is a lot more to discover at Everglades National Park! Start planning your trip today at https://www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm.