The Everglades were our first National Park visit while fulltiming in our RV. I had heard horror stories about trying to get reservations at National Parks. People were waking up at 4am only to have to try again and again at 4am for several straight days to get a reservation. With Alan working a regular full time job, our adaptability in schedule was a big issue. I could move our dates around a bit, but with reservations in Key West and Ft.Myers also needing to be done six months in advance, I wasn’t going to be able to alter them too much. I got online to “practice” the reservation process to ensure I knew how to do it when it became time. Next thing I know, I had a reservation! It was such an easy process online and I had no problem getting a spot. Maybe the issue lies in the larger more popular National Parks?
I had heard horrible stories in regards to the mosquitoes and as I’ve always been well loved by all mosquitoes, I was especially concerned. The winter months are the best times to venture into the Everglades because the heat isn’t unbearable and the insects are much less invasive, and this time frame worked perfectly for our trip! As you may know, winter didn’t really happen much in the south this year, so I was hearing rumors of the mosquitoes being worse than normal. We were going…regardless!
It was so neat driving through the Everglades to get to the Flamingo campground!We didn’t do tons of research prior to our trip, aside from our well trusted Trip Advisor recommendations. I had actually planned things outside in town until I realized it would take a good 45 minutes to even get back to the main gate. So we pulled through the main gate and had such a wonderful drive through the beautiful, wild landscape! We had nothing on our schedule except a lot of exploring and it felt wonderful! They didn’t have our name on the check-in list, even though we had a reservation, so we were told to go grab an empty spot. I thought there would be tons of people there, seeing as how it was winter in Florida, but there were only about fifteen to twenty RVs in our loop and about fifteen to twenty in the ten/small RV loop. We pulled into our site in shorts and tees because its 80 degrees outside. We quickly realized that protective clothing was more important than keeping cool at that point. We were in the middle of nowhere and it was glorious…until you went outside and stood still for 18 seconds and had dozens of mosquitoes swarming you!
We didn’t let that slow our adventures though! We went for an enjoyable bike ride to explore the Flamingo campground area and see what we’d like to do the following day! The next day, we headed to the Flamingo Visitor Center which had a small educational exhibit where we learned about the wildlife of the Everglades, as well as the past mistakes, present challenges, and future hopes for this amazing part of Florida! We learned about water, fire, elevation, and hurricanes being the major influences affecting the health of the Everglades.
The highlight of our Everglades trip was petting a sweet manatee for 45 minutes all while being 100 yards from two American crocodiles that appeared not-so-sweet! We then went on to hike several of the trails that the Everglades have to offer, as well as experiencing sunset on the way back from the Pa-hay-okee Overlook. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and feel like the absolute best way to get the most out of the Everglades would be to bring your own boat and tent and take advantage of all the tent camping along the waterways. There is so much that you will never see unless traveling by boat. I should mention that oddly enough, the mosquitoes were only at our campsite and campground. We were pleasantly surprised at the Visitors Center and on our hikes! I highly recommend bringing long sleeves and pants, bug spray, hats, bikes to travel on, and a cloth to swat the mosquitoes. With all that, we only got a handful of bites each while we were there.
Check out our video to see how amazing the Everglades were! Have you been? What was your favorite part?