Flamingo, on the shore of Florida Bay, is the center for sightseeing in the southern sector of the primeval Everglades. Visitors have their choice of foot trails, canoe trails, and privately operated cruises to take in the beauty of this area.
Of the trails suitable for families and children, Snake Bight Trail (four miles round-trip) is the most popular. You can walk it or bike it. The trail unwinds beneath the umbrella of a hardwood forest inhabited by hundreds of species of birds and butterflies, from white-crowned pigeons to zebra longwings.
The park is host to a diverse array of wildlife, including manatees and turtles. It is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles exist side by side. On the Rowdy Bend, Bear Lake, and Christian Point trails, you can see other facets of this unique ecological system.
In winter two cruises ply the local waterways, one of them into scenic Florida Bay, where at low tide you can expect to see brown pelicans, egrets, herons, and other large birds scouting the shoreline for food. (The flamingo, however, is rarely seen.) For those more intrigued by the inland waterways and plant life, a pontoon boat makes sorties into the Everglades wilderness.
Canoeists can take any of five different trails. If time is no problem, you can tackle the 100-mile Wilderness Waterway, which takes you through the backcountry between Everglades City and Flamingo. Canoes, skiffs, kayaks, bicycles, and fishing gear may all be rented. Ranger-guided canoe tours are available during the winter.
Open late Dec.– Mar. Admission charged.
(239) 695-2945 For ranger-led tours