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A Guide to Visiting Everglades National Park

Naples, located along the southwestern Gulf Coast of Florida, is a popular destination to millions of visitors each year.

Not only is Naples home to high-end shopping destinations, restaurants, golfing and white sandy beaches, it is also home to a number of endangered species living in protected wetlands and forests--also known as the Everglades. Everglades National Park, a protected U.S. National Park, is less than an hour drive away from the heart of Naples, Florida and is the biggest tropical wilderness in the country.

The Everglades 

The Everglades contains 1,509,000 acres of protected land, stretching from the southern coast of Florida to Lake Okeechobee. The park was formed in 1934 in an effort to protect the delicate ecosystems found within the Everglades. The Everglades are home to 36 endangered species, including the American crocodile.

Tamiami Trail

For those thinking about visiting or traveling through the Everglades, there are two roads that run through it. Highway 41, also known as the “Tamiami Trail,” runs from Naples to western Miami. A little north of Highway 41 is Interstate 75, running from Naples to Fort Lauderdale. Interstate 75, also known as “Alligator Alley,” runs through the wetlands and is home to many alligators that visitors can see while passing through. Scattered along Alligator Alley is rest areas where visitors can pull off, take in the natural beauty and view the wildlife.

If you’re looking for another way to take in the sights and sounds of the Everglades, airboat tours are an experience you won’t want to miss! Skim across the swamplands and get up close and personal with the wildlife by taking a guided tour on an airboat. Airboats can take visitors places within the park that are accessible only by water, weaving through mangrove forests and the foliage to get closer than the two roads allow. For more information on setting up an airboat tour ride through the Everglades as well as for hours and pricing, click here.

Skunk Ape

In addition to the protected species living within the Everglades, Southwestern Florida is said to be home to unique creatures. One unique creature that is said to have made its residence in southern Florida is the Skunk Ape, also known as the Swamp Ape. Akin to a modern Bigfoot, the Skunk Ape is supposedly a large mammal that walks on two legs and resides within the Everglades. It is claimed that this walking ape can be six to seven feet tall and weigh over 400 pounds. The Skunk Apes get their name from a strong, vile odor they are said to produce. While the United States National Park Service does not recognize this creature as legitimate, many individuals visit the Everglades for their chance of spotting a Skunk Ape and participating in the hunt for this legendary creature.

Whether you are interested in taking an airboat tour through the Everglades or heading up an exhibition to find the Skunk Ape, the area has something to offer everyone and can be enjoyed by the whole family. For more information on visiting Naples, Florida or the Everglades National Park, click here.

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