Home to more than 700 species of wildlife and a vast network of rivers and hiking trails, it’s easy to see why Everglades National Park is a top draw for both nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. Two days allows enough time to explore the park’s wildly diverse ecosystems by land and water. Here’s how to make the most of your time.
Day 1: Hit the Trails
**Morning:**Everglades National Park is within 2 hours’ driving distance of Miami, Fort Myers, Naples, and West Palm Beach, so it makes an easy day trip from almost anywhere in southern Florida. Get oriented first thing at the Shark Valley Visitor Center, where you can catch a tram to an observation tower for panoramic views of the UNESCO-listed wetlands.
**Afternoon:**Head north to the Big Cypress National Preserve, a popular spot for hiking right smack in the middle of the park. Join a guided hiking tour to learn about the distinct ecosystems of the everglades and get help spotting resident reptiles and wading birds.
**Night:**Watch the sunset transform the everglades’ marshes into a spectacular display of colors, and listen as nocturnal creatures emerge from the forests. Depending on where you’re staying, stop in either Miami or Everglades City for dinner after leaving the park.
Day 2: Wild Waters, Dark Skies
**Morning:**Since the park is made up mostly of wetlands, it’s best explored by boat. Take to the water this morning on an airboat tour, a popular way to cover lots of ground on a high-speed, fan-powered ride. Onboard nature guides are experts at spotting alligators and crocodiles sliding beneath the water's surface (the Florida everglades is the only place in the world where both species coexist).
**Afternoon:**After lunch in Chokoloskee, grab a paddle and join a kayak tour of the Ten Thousand Islands, hopping off to explore Barrier Island Beach. It's an eco-friendly way to access remote areas of the park and look for marine animals such as dolphins and manatees.
**Night:**Thanks to its remote location, Ten Thousand Islands is one of the best spots in the everglades for stargazing. Look up for a spectacular viewing of natural lightscapes; if visiting near the new moon, you may get an especially clear view of the Milky Way. Heading back toward Miami, Flamingo is another ideal spot free from most light pollution.