This is the audio-only, described version of the brochure. The Everglades is a vast multi-ecosystem. This brochure provides a roadmap to experiencing the unique environments that make up the "only Everglades" in the entire world. The brochure is broken into two parts. Side one details the ecosystems, wildlife, and history of this World Heritage Site. Side two has descriptions of the different districts of the park and the overall park map.
Please consider the time of year you are traveling to Everglades National Park as some areas will be more populated, be it by wildlife and people in the winter or by insects in the summer. Prepare for rain in the summer as well, which is the typical rainy season. Happy exploring!
A quote by Marjory Stoneman Douglas reads "There are no other Everglades in the world."
Photo description: A group of adults stands on the wooden boardwalk at the overlook at Pa-hay-okee Trail as the sun sets across the Everglades. The word “Pa-hay-okee” is the Seminole Native American term meaning “grassy waters” which is what the Everglades truly is.
Text: This landscape is unlike any other -- beautiful, mysterious, and wild. Here, tropical and temperate species flourish side-by-side in an environment, part Caribbean, part North American. The essence of the Everglades is found in the sharp, ragged edges of sawgrass blades, an alligator’s deep bellow, the high-stepping dance of wading birds, the waterway labyrinth of the Ten Thousand Islands, and the sparkling, aquamarine waters of Florida Bay.
Water is the lifeblood of the Everglades. In summer thunder clouds carry the sweet smell of rain, signaling a time of renewal. This slow-moving river is dependent on the seasonal rise and fall of fresh water. It is also dependent on people. For over 100 years we dredged, dammed, and drained the landscape, controlling the ebb and flow of this life-giving force. In doing so, we endangered the Everglades and the life dependent on it.
Today there is hope. Critical restoration projects are attempting to emulate the natural flow of clean water to revitalize altered habitats. Everglades is one of a few national parks in the United States established to protect unparalleled biological diversity. It is also the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance. The future of the Everglades is in our hands.
Photo Credit: Glenn Gardner
For hundreds of years the Everglades was viewed as a mysterious place, an unknown, uncharted wilderness to most outsiders that extended from the Kissimmee River to Lake Okeechobee, over low-lying land to Biscayne Bay, the Ten Thousand Islands, and Florida Bay (diagram at right). This mosaic of marshes, sawgrass prairies, and forests—home to an abundance of birds, mammals, fish, and reptiles—was a prolific ecosystem that replenished the aquifer, the source of clean water for south Florida.
The American Indians who lived here—the early Calusa and Tequesta, and later the Seminole and Miccosukee, perhaps understood the Everglades best. Many non-Indians moved to the area in the 1800s and early 1900s and viewed this sensitive wetland as a worthless swamp. Dams, floodgates, canals, levees, and roads were built, diverting precious water from natural wetlands, reducing freshwater flow to productive estuaries, creating land for agriculture, growing communities, and setting the stage for ecological problems. Soon the Everglades was drying up. To complicate matters, invasive nonnative plants and animals, began to spread and compete with native species. Everglades National Park was created in 1947, but outside its borders people waged war on this wetland.
Projected global changes in temperature and precipitation may continue to alter the Everglades. Sea level rise erodes cultural sites, changes habitats, and increases salinity in estuaries and urban water supplies. Today the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is working to mimic the historic natural flow of water. Early results are encouraging—birds are returning to nest and nonnative plants have been removed in the wetlands restoration west of Royal Palm. Restoration efforts are helping the park address regional challenges and the global issue of climate change. You can help by reducing your carbon footprint.
Two maps diagram past and current water flow throughout the Everglades. The maps present the bottom third of the state of Florida. Everglades National Park encompasses the lower left side and around the tip of the state. The park extends into the waters of Florida Bay. The Kissimmee River flows east of center throughout the lower part of the state. A large section of the park encompasses the entire lower section of this river. Lake Okeechobee is in the middle of the Kissimmee River north of the park and west of West Palm Beach. Big Cypress National Preserve is just north of the park and is on the west side of the state. Biscayne National Park is east of the park along the east coast and includes a section of the Florida Keys.
Historic Water Flow Map Description:
For thousands of years, the Kissimmee River, flowing into and through Lake Okeechobee, fed the Everglades. As water levels in the lake crested, water would seep down through the middle of the state and out through many tributaries into the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and Florida Bay. This happened every rainy season, during the summer months. The water flow was abundant.
Current Water Flow Map Description:
As population swelled in middle and south Florida, ideas about how to best utilize the vast Everglades for personal and human benefit emerged. Draining the Everglades of water to use the land for farming was one idea, believing the soil and climate would make a farmer's dream.
North of the park, canals depicted with black arrows on the map ushered water from Lake Okeechobee directly east and west to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Even more canals diverted water to the cities of Fort Myers on the western gulf side of the state and West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami on the east coast.
With more water diverted, less and less water made it through to the southern portion of the Everglades, which is preserved by the National Park Service.
Photo description: A photo collage features three of the over 300 bird varieties found within the park. In one photo, a wood stork with a white body and long legs is perched on a tree limb. This threatened species is seen primarily in the winter as it migrates to south Florida to find suitable nesting areas. The second photo features a black skimmer in flight. The tops of its wings and body are black. The front of its neck and underbelly are white. The portion of its beak closest to its face is a distinct orange, which fades out into a gray color. The final photo shows a roseate spoonbill with bright pink plumage coming in for a landing.
Photo credits: Wood Stork (Bob Peterson); Black skimmer and roseate spoonbill (Philip Sidran)
Everglades National Park’s collage of habitats is dynamic. Water, elevation, fire, and hurricanes are major influences on the health of the Everglades.
Water flow is essential to all habitats in the Everglades. There are two main seasons here—wet and dry. The wet season May–November is a time of abundance and renewal when wildlife disperses, following the flood of rainwater across the landscape. During the dry season wildlife congregates in and around ever-shrinking water sources such as ponds and gator holes.
Although measured in inches instead of feet, elevation defines each habitat, from the lowest freshwater marsh to higher tropical hardwood hammocks.
Natural and prescribed fires help create the mosaic of habitats found in the Everglades and maintains the open, sun-lit environments typical of freshwater marshes and pine rocklands.
Powerful hurricane winds and storm surges can destroy vegetation and re-shape shorelines, but these storms contribute to the park’s biodiversity by opening coastal landscapes that favor certain plants and animals.
Everglades National Park
40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034-6733
Collage description: The locations of six habitats within the park are identified on six identical small maps of the park. They are the marine and estuarine, mangroves, freshwater marsh, cypress, pine rockland and tropical hardwood hammock. Additional text further explains each habitat.
Underneath this information at the bottom of the brochure is a color collage of these habitats and the flora and fauna that live within them.
Illustration credit: NPS/Robert Hynes
Text: Marine and estuarine waters extend from the Ten Thousand Islands to Florida Bay. Seagrass beds lie beneath these waters, providing critical food and shelter for marine life. The health of this environment is dependent on management of freshwater flows by people and is key to sustaining productive fisheries outside the park.
Map description: The marine and estuarine habitat is depicted in blue on the map and is represented as a sliver following the entire Gulf Coast side of the park. The largest part of this habitat is in the Florida Bay, which is the water surrounding the bottom tip of the park and state.
Collage description: Moving from left to right on the collage in its entirety, the first habitat presented is the Marine Estuary. The osprey, brown pelican, pink shrimp, and green sea turtle in this collage are just some of the inhabitants in the marine and estuarine habitat found in the sky, on land, and in the water.
Species description: The osprey is a fish-eating bird that can range from metropolitan areas near the coastline to more natural habitats like Everglades National Park. Their nests are rather large and can be found in unique places. One of the larger raptor birds found inside the park, this bird is depicted in the sky. It is a side profile with its wings and legs outstretched as if it is about to land. Its head, body, and part of its wings are white. The other part of its wings and its tail are black. It's outstretched claws or talons are yellow.
Species description: One of the pelican species found in the park, the brown pelican is common in the coastal areas of the park. In this image, the pelican is taking a nose dive with its long beak almost touching the water's surface.
Species description: This is one of the many creatures that resides under the water along the coasts of Everglades National Park. It is small, translucent pink, and has multiple legs in its front and back sections.
Illustration caption: Swimming along the coastlines and usually spotted from the boat tours and any higher access in the park, these turtles are one of many varieties that call Everglades National Park home. These turtles get rather large. This particular turtle is swimming. His head is outstretched as are its front and back legs. It has larger light brown spots on its mostly white underbelly.
Mangroves are found in coastal channels and winding rivers where fresh and salt water intermingle. Mangrove forests stabilize coastal land, sustain nurseries for marine life, and provide nesting habitat for wading birds. These forests are the first line of defense against storm winds and surges.
Map description: Mangroves are depicted in a soft green on the map and are located in the western section of the park adjacent to the marine and estuarine.
Collage description: This important ecosystem provides a necessary buffer to keep the coastline intact and also provides a home for the wildlife that live on the edges of the park. This collage depicts the trees, which live in brackish and coastal saline waters, and a few of the wildlife on land and in the water that call this habitat home. Included species are the manatee, mangrove snapper, great egret, and white pelican.
Species description: One of the pelican species found primarily around the park's coastline, this illustration depicts a cluster of four white pelicans in flight. The tips of their outstretched wings are black. The rest of their bodies are white. Their necks are long and slender and bent in a backward "C" shape. Their beaks are long and yellow.
Species description: This is the second largest wading bird found in the park. Here, the white egret is standing on its legs. It is white with a yellowish beak or bill. It appears to be stalking lunch, looking into the water with its head and beak pointed downwards.
Species description: One of the fish varieties found in the park, the mangrove snapper swims through the tree roots of the mangrove. It has a pinkish cast and a fin that spans most of its back on top.
Species description: The manatee is a large gray sea mammal that can weigh 400 pounds or more. It will spend its day eating seagrass and will come to the surface for air. This illustration shows the manatee looking for its next snack near the bottom of the water. The manatee is facing forward and has front flippers that look like small arms right below its large egg-shaped head, which includes a large mouth, snout, and nostrils. Its body is even larger and much longer than its head and at its back is a large tail fin.
The Everglades freshwater marsh is a wide, shallow, slow-moving “river of grass,” the iconic ecosystem of the park. Two major drainages—the broad Shark River Slough (pronounced slew) and the narrow Taylor Slough—are the main avenues for fresh-water flow.
Map description: This habitat is identified on the map in yellow and covers the eastern section of the park. In the collage, it is depicted in two sections on either side of the cypress habitat.
Collage description: This illustration shows some of the wildlife that frequents this ecosystem of water and grasses. Wildlife pictured include a great blue heron with its white morph flying in the sky, roseate spoonbills on the water line and an American crocodile swimming in the water.
Species description: The largest wading bird found in the park. This illustration shows the Great blue heron with its white morph phase, flying in the air. Its body and head are white. Its long beak or bill and legs are yellowish. Its legs are stretch out and pointing towards the back. Its long neck is curved upwards like the letter "U."
Species description: This bird is named for its pinkish color. The spoonbill refers to the distinctive shape of its bill, which is shaped like a flatted spoon. In this image, two birds are standing in the sawgrass looking at the water. The head of the bird on the left is tilted down with its bill touching the water. The bird on the right has its wings outstretched. Both birds' reflections are shimmering on the water's surface.
Species description: This American crocodile is immersed in the water at its northernmost habitat, which is located at the southern end of the national park. It is lizard-shaped with four short legs and a narrow triangular snout.
Collage description: This illustration captures the second half of the freshwater marsh ecosystem. Wildlife depicted in this scene include a snail kite hovering in the air about to perch or strike prey, white-tailed deer in the marsh, a tricolored heron looking for food along marsh's edge, a purple gallinule bird hovering on the water and a cooter turtle and Florida gar fish swimming under the water.
Species description: Part of the hawk family, this bird is hovering in the air. Its wings are outstretched as is its tail which looks like an open fan. Its body is primarily brown. It has a strip of white across the part of its tail that connects to its body, then a strip of brown. The very tips of its tail feather are white. It feasts primarily on snails.
Species description: Two reddish-brown white-tailed deer stand in the freshwater marsh. Their underbellies and the undersides of their tails are white. This is one of the mammals that call Everglades home.
Species description: This is one of a few varieties of herons in the park. It is looking for food along the fringes of the freshwater marsh. It is primarily bluish-gray with a white underbelly. It has long legs, a long curved neck and a long beak pointing downwards toward the water.
Species description: The Purple gallinule is considered one of the most colorful birds in the park with its red-banded beak and primarily purple plumage showing shades of blue and green. As depicted, it can often be seen fluttering around the water on the spatterdock, which resembles lily pads.
Species description: A large aquatic turtle, this cooter has a hard shell and is swimming underwater.
Species description: This is a variety of the gar fish seen throughout Florida and can be over three feet in length. It has a long narrow body with a fin on the top and bottom of its body close to its back tail fin. It has smaller fins underneath its body closer to its head and midsection. Its head comes to a narrow point at its mouth.
Cypress trees thrive in flooded conditions. Cypress forests often grow in the shape of a dome, with taller trees in the center of the dome, or in a linear ”strand” where tree growth follows the flow of water. A long-lived, deciduous wetland species, cypress can live as long as 600 years.
Map description: The cypress habitat is depicted in tan on the map. It is a very small habitat located primarily in the lower eastern border of the park as well as the northwestern section of the park, bordering Big Cypress National Park where this habitat dominates.
Collage description: This section in the middle of the collage depicts the tall cypress trees and what is found living in and around them, including white ibises in the trees, a river otter floating on a log, a soft-shell turtle and a mosquito fish in the water.
Species description: The white ibis, seen throughout the park, has a long crooked beak, good for digging into the ground for food. This depiction shows the white ibis perched in the cypress trees. It is the first bird to return after a hurricane.
Species description: One of the mammals found in the park, this is a semi-aquatic mammal. Here, it is seen sitting on a log floating in the water. It has grayish-brown fur and a long body and tail.
Species description: A common freshwater fish, this is one of the smaller fish found in the park. Here, three fish are grouped together.
Species description: Another of the turtle species that call south Florida and Everglades home, this turtle is swimming underwater. Its neck is extended and its head is pointed upright. Its nose and mouth are above the water. This turtle has a flat, round leathery shell.
Pine Rockland, the rarest and most diverse habitat in the Everglades, occurs on the highest elevations, along a limestone ridge on the east coast of south Florida. This habitat includes slash pine forest, an understory of saw palmetto, and over 200 varieties of tropical plants.
Map description: This habitat is depicted in a lime green color on the map and is a west to east sliver located in the middle of the eastern edge of the park close to and north of the cypress habitat.
Collage description: The ecosystem is a tropical and subtropical moist broad leaf forest in south Florida. In this section of the collage, a Wood stork is coming in for a landing, an American alligator is resting in the shallow water, and a walking catfish is swimming in the water.
Species description: Coming in for a landing, this stork has its wings outstretched and its head and beak pointing forward. While its body, including the tops of its wings, are white, the undersides of its wings are black.
Species description: One of the most well-known of the species that call the Everglades home, the American alligator is seen here, resting with its head and only part of it body above water. It is shaped like a reptile and has a long muscular tail. It is a "Keystone" creature and the Everglades would not be what it was and is without the presence of the American alligator.
Species description: This fish is native to Southeast Asia and is one of the invasive species the Everglades is currently monitoring. It has an orange hue and a large head and mouth that is wider than its body. In this image, its body is shaped like a "C" with its head at the top and its tail at the bottom curving towards each other.
Text: These dense island forests grow on slightly elevated land and rarely flood. Temperate trees, such as live oak, are out-numbered by tropical mahogany, gumbo-limbo, mastic, and others. Ferns and air plants thrive here. Natural moats around hammocks help protect them from fire.
Map description: This habitat is depicted in dark green and is largely scattered throughout the northeastern quadrant of the park.
Collage description: In this section of the collage, a rat snake is seen coiled around a tree, a Florida panther is on the embankment looking for food on the water line and a large mouth bass is swimming in the water, headed for the surface.
Species description: The medium to large non-venomous constrictor snake is coiled around a tree. Its body is yellow, and it has brown stripes.
Species description: One of the most elusive mammals in the Everglades, the Florida panther is protected and is also the state's mammal. It is a medium shade of brown with a creamy colored underbelly.
Species description: A large mouth bass, which some consider a fresh water game fish and part of the black bass family, is native to North America. It has a greenish hue and plumpish body and is swimming to the surface.
The upper third of side two of the brochure provides information and supporting photographs for exploring the Everglades.
Photo description: At the bottom of this section, a great blue heron is pictured against a dark background. Its entire body is outstretched from head to toe. Its neck, head, and bill appear to be almost the same length as its body, not including its legs. Its legs and feet appear to be almost two-thirds the length of its body. Its torso and the majority of its wings are white. The borders around its wings are blue.
Photo credit: Philip Sidran
Photo caption and description: Camp at a primitive site on the Gulf Coast. Two popup tents and sea kayaks on either side of the tents are pictured on the shoreline.
Photo credit: NPS
View the Everglades from the Observation Tower. The Shark Valley Observation Tower sits seven miles into the 15-mile loop at Shark Valley. It is the highest structure visitors can access in the park and is an open-air circular structure with a long, walk-up ramp.
Photo credit: Glenn Gardner
Walk along the Anhinga Trail. A cormorant bird, sitting on the railing at Anhinga Boardwalk as visitors in the background walk down a paved path with lush green foliage on either side of them.
Photo credit: Glenn Gardner
Paddle through the mangroves. A paddler in a yellow kayak and red lifejacket is paddling straight ahead. Dense vegetation is on either side of him.
Photo credit: Patrick Nichols
Photo caption and description: Watch a beautiful sunset. A sunset across Everglades National Park. Deep orange clouds peppered with yellow fill the sky, which is also reflected in the water. Silhouetted are several tall cypress trees and tall grasses.
Each individual selection in this section of the brochure provides important logistical information regarding your visit.
Photo credit: Paul Marcellini
Bring water, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Supervise small children at all times. This is a wilderness area, wildlife moves about freely. Do not feed or approach wildlife. Be aware of alligators, poisonous plants, and snakes.
Drive-in camping is available at Long Pine Key and Flamingo. Get more information at visitor centers and the park website.
The park offers wilderness camping, greater solitude on longer trails, outstanding night skies, and much more. For things to do, ask a ranger or visit the park website.
Please control pets on a six-foot leash. They are permitted on public roads, campgrounds, picnic areas, maintained grounds, and boats. Temperatures are extreme. Do not leave pets in a parked car.
Emergencies call 1-800-788-0511
Ask at a visitor center or check the park website for fishing regulations.
Drones, Jet Skis, water-skiing and off-road vehicles are all prohibited in the park.
We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For information go to a visitor center, ask a ranger, call, or check our website.
Florida state law applies to firearms in the park. Hunting is prohibited.
Everglades National Park; 40001 State Road 9336; Homestead, FL 33034-6733. Phone: 305-242-7700. Website: www.nps.gov/ever. To learn more about national parks, visit www.nps.gov.
In addition to the large map, a much smaller map denoted wilderness areas in the park on side two of the brochure.
Text: South Florida is one of the nation’s fastest growing urban areas with six million residents. It is also home to a remarkable wilderness. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness Area preserves nearly 1.3 million acres of marine estuary, mangrove and cypress forests, hardwood hammock, and sawgrass prairie and is the largest wilderness east of the Mississippi River.
Wilderness once encircled humans. Now we encircle it. Wilderness gives us a glimpse of what America once was.
Map description: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas National Wilderness covers almost 90% of the national park, including submerged wilderness areas. Small sections of the park, primarily in the northeast and northwest corners, are non-wilderness areas.
Map description: The park map makes up over half of side two of the park brochure. Colors varying from light yellow to dark green identify nine ecosystems, which are the marine and estuarine, coastal marsh, mangrove, cypress, coastal prairie, freshwater slough, pineland, freshwater marl prairie and hardwood hammock. These ecosystems and their locations generally line up with the locations already identified and covered under the six habitats of the park of this audio described brochure.
The park is very large, at 1.5 million acres. The scale of the map at the bottom right of the brochure is set to 10 miles per 2 inches and 10 kilometers per 1 1/4 inches
Everglades National Park encompasses the lower portion of the state and extends into the majority of the waters of Florida Bay. The northwestern boundary of the park extends slightly into the Gulf of Mexico and follows the coastline around the tip of the state where the Florida Bay is located.
The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is in the far northwestern corner of the park. The western half of the park in the north is bordered by Big Cypress National Park.
At the top northeastern section of the park is Shark Valley Visitor Center. Miami is due east of this visitor center and Route 61 travels east to west along this northern border of the park before heading slightly north into and through Big Cypress National Park.
In the northeast of the park, two water conservation areas can be found north of the Shark Valley Visitor Center. The majority of the park's eastern land borders environmental and rural development zones, separating it from the Atlantic Ocean about 30 miles away.
Further south on the eastern border of the park is the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. Route 9366, which becomes the park's road, runs past the visitor center and southwest through the park all the way down to the Flamingo Visitor Center, which is on the shoreline in the southwestern section of the park and the Florida Bay.
Do not use this map for navigation. Navigational Ocean Survey charts are essential for safe boating. Charts are available in most communities around the park and throughout the Keys. Knowing the draft (depth) and limits of your boat is critical, as is the ability to read and utilize nautical charts.
Throughout the map, symbols are used to identify services, facilities and activities and other information. This list has been annotated to indicate generally where these services, facilities, and activities are located. It is not all inclusive and nearby could mean anywhere from 5 to 20 miles or more. For additional information, revisit the options under the Exploring the Everglades sections of this audio described brochure and visit the park's website.
A chart to the left of the park map notes distances from the Coe Visitor Center, which is on the eastern border of the park, to other areas in and around the park. They are: