About The Florida Everglades

everglades airboat tour route in everglades national park

Everglades National Park: The Gem of South Florida

Welcome to the Florida Everglades! Discover the Wonders of this Unique Ecosystem

The Everglades is a unique and awe-inspiring natural wonder that holds an immense amount of both historical and ecological significance. As the premier sightseeing destination, Everglades Holiday Park takes pride in showcasing the beauty and importance of our extraordinary ecosystem and providing our visitors with its fascinating history, emphasizing its importance as an ecological treasure and how visiting our Everglades Park is a one-of-a-kind experience that will deepen your appreciation of this truly remarkable place we call home.


Location and Geography

The Everglades is an unparalleled ecological marvel. Filled with an incredible diversity of habitats, the Everglades (often referred to as the “River of Grass”) is a shallow, slow-moving river system that covers approximately 1.5 million acres in the Sunshine State of Florida.

tall sawgrass marshes on an everglades airboat tour explaining the name river of grass

Habitat and Ecosystem

What makes the Everglades so distinct is its complex hydrological system, meaning the distribution and circulation of water within its ecosystem created by its seasonal patterns of rainfall, sheet flow, and water levels. This unique subtropical wetland has created a treasure trove of biodiversity. This intricate mosaic of plants, animals, and habitats is native to the region and not found anywhere else in the world!

These habitats include the following:

Freshwater sloughs

These serve as the lifeblood of the Everglades and provide essential water flow through the landscape.

Sawgrass marshes

The iconic symbol of the Everglades, create a vast, seemingly endless sea of grass that can grow up to 10 feet tall, providing refuge for countless wildlife species.

Cypress swamps

With their towering cypress trees draped in Spanish moss, create a mystical and enchanting atmosphere while providing vital habitat for various birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Pineland forests

Characterized by their pine trees and diverse understory, support an array of unique plant species and serve as crucial habitat for the endangered Florida panther. Coastal prairies, found along the fringes of the Everglades, are home to salt-tolerant vegetation and provide essential nesting grounds for wading birds and other aquatic species.

Estuarine mangrove communities

located at the southern tip of the Everglades where fresh and saltwater meet, play a crucial role in stabilizing shorelines, providing nursery habitats for many fish and invertebrate species, and acting as a natural buffer against storms and hurricanes.

Subtropical Wetlands

These wetlands are crucial for maintaining biodiversity, providing habitat for numerous plant and animal species, and supplying important ecosystem services.

Mangrove Forests 

Mangrove forests provide important nursery grounds for fish, nesting sites for birds, and other habitats

Florida Bay

Florida Bay is a unique and ecologically important estuarine habitat adjacent to Everglades National Park in Southern Florida. It is part of the larger Everglades ecosystem, characterized by its shallow, nutrient-rich waters and extensive seagrass beds.


The astounding biodiversity found within these distinct habitats is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the flora and fauna that call the Everglades home.

The Everglades play a vital role in water filtration, as the wetland ecosystems serve as natural filters that remove excess nutrients, pollutants, and sediments from the water. This process helps maintain water quality and protect the ecosystem’s delicate balance. Additionally, the Everglades is critical for flood control, as its vast expanses of wetlands can absorb and store large volumes of water during heavy rainfall events, reducing the risk of flooding in surrounding communities.

The Everglades functions as a critical habitat provider, supporting a multitude of threatened and endangered species, such as the Florida panther, the American alligator, and the elusive ghost orchid. Protecting and preserving these habitats are crucial for these iconic species’ survival and the ecosystem’s overall health.

history of the everglades - early florida everglades photo prior to development


The Florida Everglades, a mesmerizing natural marvel that has fascinated countless explorers, scholars, and nature lovers, carries a deep-rooted history that unfolds over millions of years. Once the bed of a shallow sea, the area we now recognize as the Everglades has experienced dramatic shifts through geological evolutions, weather fluctuations, and the ebb and flow of sea levels.

Over millions of years, the former seabed gradually ascended, and deposits from rivers and ocean currents laid the groundwork for the terrain that would ultimately evolve into the Florida peninsula. During this period, the powerful synergy between geological forces and climate shifts molded the region’s unique topography.


Around 5,000 years ago, a transformative event occurred that altered the face of the Florida peninsula forever. As the peninsula took form, the receding sea forged a unique convergence of freshwater and saltwater ecosystems, which marked the genesis of the Everglades’ distinctive landscape. This remarkable fusion of fresh and saltwater ecosystems paved the way for the emergence of the vast and varied habitats that define the Everglades today.

The Everglades’ most remarkable feature is the slow, winding water flow from Lake Okeechobee, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States, towards Florida Bay. This sheet-like water flow, traversing a mere 100 feet per day, blankets the landscape and spawns extensive sawgrass marshes. These marshes, defined by their seemingly infinite stretch of tall, sharp-edged sawgrass, have bestowed upon the Everglades its famed moniker, the “River of Grass.”

The Evolution of the Everglades

This complex interplay between water and land has established a delicate equilibrium that nurtures the awe-inspiring biodiversity found within the Everglades. The sluggish flow of water over limestone bedrock has fostered a nutrient-scarce environment, which has led to the evolution of highly specialized flora and fauna uniquely equipped to prosper under such demanding conditions. Above the bedrock is a layer of peat from decaying sawgrass. The peat and sawgrass fires that can occur in the dry winter months give the peat its black color.

The Florida Everglades is a tribute to the formidable power of nature’s resilience and adaptability. Through countless years of geological transformations and climatic shifts, this extraordinary ecosystem has risen as a unique and incomparable gem, reflecting the intricate dynamics between water, land, and life that have crafted the landscape we marvel at today.


The Florida Everglades has been a sanctuary for the South Florida tribes, including the Seminole and Miccosukee, for thousands of years. These resilient communities forged a deep and enduring connection with the land, embracing the challenges of life in the Everglades’ dynamic and often harsh environment. They learned to live in harmony with the landscape, understanding its rhythms, patterns, and secrets in a way that allowed them to thrive.

The Native Americans of the Everglades developed sophisticated techniques for hunting, fishing, and agriculture, enabling them to harness the abundant resources of the Everglades to sustain their communities. They skillfully hunted alligators and deer for food while employing various fishing techniques to catch fish, turtles, and mollusks from the rich waters of the region. These tribes cultivated crops well-adapted to the Everglades’ unique soil and climatic conditions, such as corn, beans, and squash.

chickee huts of the indigenous tribes that live in the florida everglades

Chickee Huts of the Indigenous Tribes that live in the Florida Everglades Image Courtesy: Seminole Tribe


Life in the Everglades has always presented unique challenges, but the ingenious tribes who call it home found remarkable ways to adapt. They constructed stilted Chickee huts (the Seminole term for “house”)—raised platforms built from sturdy cypress logs and topped with roofs thatched from palmetto leaves. These huts offered sanctuary from floods, pesky mosquitoes, and other potential dangers, while the open design allowed for natural air circulation, keeping things cool in the subtropical climate.

Travel within the Everglades also required adaptation to the region’s distinct features. The tribes fashioned lightweight and maneuverable dugout canoes from cypress logs, perfect for navigating the Everglades’ network of waterways, sloughs, and marshes. These canoes provided quick and efficient travel, connecting communities and facilitating trade. 

The rich culture, history, and intimate knowledge of the indigenous tribes are intricately woven into the tapestry of the Everglades. Their enduring presence is a tribute to their profound bond with the land, adaptability, and steadfast dedication to preserving their heritage. Today, the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes continue their crucial role in conserving the Everglades, sharing cultural wisdom with researchers, conservationists, and global visitors. 


The arrival of the first European explorers in Florida during the early 16th century signaled a dramatic shift for the Everglades and its native inhabitants. Adventurous Spanish explorers, like Juan Ponce de León, delved into the region in pursuit of riches, thrill, and new territories. Their interactions with the native tribes sparked a complex and often tumultuous relationship that reshaped the region’s landscape and culture.

Despite facing numerous hurdles, such as disease, conflict with indigenous tribes, and the harsh, unforgiving Everglades conditions, European settlers remained tenacious in their endeavors to establish a foothold in Florida. Over time, the Spanish Crown founded missions and settlements across the peninsula, intending to convert the native tribes to Christianity and integrate them into the Spanish colonial framework.

The New Everlades Era

The geopolitical landscape took a drastic turn in the early 19th century when the United States obtained Florida from Spain via the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. The acquisition spurred initiatives to drain and develop the Everglades, as settlers and officials strived to convert the wetlands into fertile agricultural and urban land.

This era marked the start of a complex and often contentious relationship between humans and the Everglades. As settlers exploited the region’s resources, they undertook ambitious engineering projects to control and redirect the Everglades’ water flow. The construction of canals, levees, and dikes disrupted the ecosystem’s delicate balance, leading to far-reaching implications for the region’s flora, fauna, and indigenous communities.

sugar cane plantation in the everglades

Sugar cane plantation in the Florida Everglades

The Everglades Sugar Rush

Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the drive for development in the Everglades persisted, draining vast areas of land for agricultural use, especially for sugarcane cultivation. Railroad industrialists Henry Plant and Henry Flagler helped to create the railroads that made the region more accessible. The growing Florida population also spurred urbanization, expanding cities and towns into the Everglades’ outskirts.

This period of exploration, settlement, and development has left a deep and lasting impact on the Everglades. When the ecosystem’s delicate balance was disrupted, native plant and animal species teetered on the edge of extinction, and the region’s indigenous tribes faced challenges to their traditional lifestyle. Today, the Everglades’ story continues to evolve, influenced by the intricate relationship between humans and nature, as conservationists, government bodies, and local communities collaborate to safeguard, restore, and protect this unique and fragile landscape for future generations.


As the 19th century drew to a close and the 20th century began, the Everglades experienced a drastic shift in landscape and purpose. Visionaries, like Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, who held office from 1905 to 1909, noticed the untouched swampland and Governor Broward believed in the untapped potential of the Everglades and a future where the wetlands were drained to reveal fertile land for real estate and farming.

Colossal engineering feats were initiated, bringing this grand vision to life to control the Everglades water flow. This included building an intricate web of canals, levees, and pumping stations to divert water from the wetlands, thereby paving the way for development. The consequences were profound as the Everglades’ natural water patterns were radically disrupted, impacting the region’s ecosystems and inhabitants.

These engineering triumphs opened the floodgates for a boom in agricultural growth in the Everglades, especially for high-value crops like sugarcane and citrus fruits. The drained lands offered rich soil and ample space for farming, driving the region’s economy and luring settlers to South Florida.

At the same time, South Florida’s urban growth exploded, fueled by a thriving economy and growing population. The Everglades’ landscape dramatically transformed, turning pristine wetlands into a mosaic of agricultural fields, urban landscapes, and infrastructure.


Regrettably, the large-scale projects and subsequent development took a heavy toll on the Everglades’ delicate ecosystems. Habitat loss led to the decline of many native species, and water pollution from agricultural and urban waste further aggravated the situation.

Before being drained, the Everglades covered about 4,000 square miles. Today, over 50% of the Everglades has been drained and no longer exists. The number of wading birds has decreased by 90%.

In her book “The River Of Grass”, in 1947, Mrs. Douglas warned about the dangers of overdraining on the life of the Everglades Ecosystem.

The pursuit of progress in the Everglades during the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought significant ecological repercussions. Today, recognizing the importance of the Everglades, multiple stakeholders, including conservationists, government agencies, and local communities, are rallying together to reverse the damage and safeguard this unique and fragile environment.

In 1948, Congress authorized the Central and South Florida Project. This project was designed to protect agricultural and urban areas from flooding through a system of levees over 150 miles long that store water. A large portion of this area creates the Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area and the Big Cypress Swamp.

In the 1960’s there was an attempt to build a large airport in the Everglades. A preservation group rose up to fight it, and helped to kickstart the preservation efforts as we see them today. In 1994, the Everglades Forever Act was passed to help ensure water quality for water flowing into the Everglades.

Lake Okeechobee

Also known as the Florida Inland Sea, this large inland lake covers 730 square miles and has played a critical role in the impact of the Everglades. It first gained national attention in Christmas of 1837 when Colonel Zachary Taylors’ regiment of 800 men attacked about 380 to 480 Seminole and Miccosukee Native Americans on the banks of the lake.

In 1881, Hamilton Disston purchased 4 million acres of land surrounding Lake Okeechobee and drained the area, making it suitable for development and agriculture. This newly reclaimed Everglades land created an influx of new farmers with 20,000 lots selling within a few months of 1912. Before this, land developers had considered the Everglades to be a worthless swamp.

Unfortunately, the flood mitigation efforts were subpar for storm situations, causing thousands of people to be killed in the hurricane of 1928. The Okeechobee Flood Control District was created in 1929, which resulted in a 66-mile-long dike that was ultimately created around the rim of the lake.

In 2007, it was discovered that the arsenic and pesticide levels in Lake Okeechobee were four times higher than normal, helping to highlight the environmental challenge facing the rest of the Everglades in preserving water quality. Lake Okeechobee is situated on the north edge of the Everglades.

map with the location of everglades national park depicting how the location of the everglades also includes the florida bay

Florida Bay

About 627 square miles of the Florida Bay are found inside of Everglades National Park. It is a shallow lagoon that the Everglades drains into. It averages about 3 feet deep and is stabilized by seagrasses, making it a perfect environment for various wildlife.

The Florida Bay extends from Everglades National Park down to the Florida Keys. It relies on inflows of freshwater from two major sources, the Shark River Slough and Taylor Slough, to keep salinity levels low.

Atlantic Coastal Ridge

Along the eastern edge of the Everglades is the limestone Atlantic Coastal Ridge. It rises about 20 feet in elevation and curves around the southwest edge of the ‘Glades. This ridge provides the elevation needed to support the communities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

The limestone from the Atlantic Coastal Ridge runs from the ridge down under the Everglades and helps create a solid layer of bedrock that traps the waters in the water in the Everglades.

Endangered Species and Conservation: Protecting The Everglades for Future Generations

A Florida panther prowling through a grassy field in the Everglades

Florida Panther

The Florida panther was first put on the Endangered Species list back in 1967. In the 50 years following, they have come back from the brink of extinction, rebounding from the estimated low of 10 animals to 200!

alligator laying on the bank of the florida everglades canal

Crocodiles and Alligators

Crocodiles and alligators face the very real threat of their habitat being damaged and destroyed. That combined with the previously unchecked hunting for skins and meat makes these creates ones to protect.

birds of the everglades walking through the water and marshes

Wading Birds

The Everglades is home to many species of birds that need our protection. Just like crocodiles and alligators, the egret’s habitat is threatened, which means we have to be vigilant if we want to preserve these incredible animals for future generations.

How Everglades Holiday Park Helps With Conservation

As the 20th century unfolded, the damaging impacts of the Everglades’ development became alarmingly evident. This led to a crescendo of voices—concerned citizens, scientists, and policymakers—calling for protecting and restoring this unique ecosystem. President Harry Truman heeded this call in 1947 by establishing Everglades National Park, a significant move that protected 1.5 million acres of this diverse ecosystem.

Since then, numerous conservation groups, government bodies, and passionate individuals have worked relentlessly to preserve and restore the Everglades. Their initiatives span scientific research, habitat restoration, policy advocacy, and public education. Through their collective efforts, substantial progress has been made in safeguarding the Everglades for the future.


Among these initiatives, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) stands out. Launched in 2000 as a partnership between the State of Florida and the U.S. Federal Government, CERP is the largest hydrologic restoration project in U.S. history. It aims to undo the damage caused by decades of human interference, primarily by reinstating the Everglades’ natural water flow patterns, a critical aspect of its ecosystem’s health.

CERP is composed of over 60 projects, each with interconnected goals, including improving water quality, restoring native habitats, and enhancing flood protection.  Through this comprehensive, scientifically grounded approach, CERP is ensuring the Everglades continues to provide essential ecological, economic, and cultural benefits for years to come.

The dedication and hard work of countless individuals, organizations, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to restore the Everglades is a testament to the irreplaceable value of this unique ecosystem. Their collective efforts strive to ensure that the Everglades remain a source of inspiration, nourishment, and life in its many forms.

How You Can Help

Your visit to Everglades Holiday Park allows you to step into this extraordinary landscape, immerse yourself in its rich history and ecology, and play a part in the crucial work of conservation and restoration. Come and experience the magic of the Everglades, an adventure that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation of nature’s wonder. Everglades Holiday Park is nestled in Fort Lauderdale, providing a convenient location for visitors from Miami, West Palm Beach, and other parts of Florida. The park provides an effortless gateway to the Everglades, allowing you to immerse yourself in its natural splendor and experience its breathtaking landscapes.

beautiful canals on a sunset airboat tour miami


Drinking Water for Floridians

The Biscayne Aquifer in South Florida is an underground river replenished by water flow through the Everglades. The wetlands in the Everglades function as a filtration system, purifying the slow-moving water as it travels. This aquifer is a significant source of drinking water for Florida natives and a vital part of the South Florida ecosystem.

Habitat for Numerous Species

The Everglades provide the perfect safe space for hundreds of species. There are 360 species of birds alone! This is part of why it’s so important that we take the initiative and protect these crucial habitats.

Wetland of International Importance

The Everglades is an essential lifeline for Florida, not just as a source of drinking water for millions but also as a vital cog in water filtration and flood control. As one of the largest wetland ecosystems in the United States, the Everglades serves as a natural absorbent, soaking up surplus water during heavy rains and slowly releasing it during drier periods. This balance is key to South Florida’s economic, ecological, and lifestyle stability, safeguarding against flooding, maintaining water quality, and replenishing the region’s water tables.

The Everglades’ filtration prowess is especially noteworthy. Within this natural wonder, a complex network of plants, microorganisms, and soils works in harmony to cleanse the water of pollutants and impurities. This natural cleansing process aids in preserving the quality of drinking water supplies and protecting the health of aquatic ecosystems, thereby supporting an array of plant and animal life.

Cultural Importance

The Everglades is a treasure trove of cultural, historical, and recreational richness. Serving as a living testament to the region’s indigenous heritage, it provides a window into the lives of the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes, who have called this landscape home for generations. The Everglades is also a poignant reminder of the intricate dance between humans and nature, showcasing the potential for environmental degradation and the power of restoration and stewardship.

The Everglades’ sprawling wilderness and its unique blend of plant and animal life make it a top-tier destination for outdoor lovers and nature enthusiasts. Visitors to the Everglades can traverse the diverse habitats by foot, by boat, or on an airboat tour, soaking in the sights and sounds of this extraordinary landscape. With opportunities for birdwatching, wildlife photography, fishing, and hiking, visitors can fully immerse themselves in the serenity and beauty of this unique environment.

By visiting Everglades Holiday Park, guests can get up close and personal with the multifaceted aspects of the Everglades and better understand the crucial role this ecosystem plays in preserving the health and prosperity of South Florida. Through education, recreation, and conservation, Everglades Holiday Park seeks to instill a lifelong reverence for the Everglades and a dedication to preserving its extraordinary legacy. We invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and to explore the unparalleled beauty and wonder of the Florida Everglades for yourself.

exploring the everglades on a miami airboat tour

Exploring the Everglades

Everglades Airboat Tour

Our custom-built, state-of-the-art airboats are unmatched for stunning views, wildlife sightings, and thrilling adventure. Our professional tour guides navigate you and your group through the sub-tropical Everglades ecosystem in a way you’ve never seen before!

Every airboat tour includes an exclusive live alligator show and two free professional-grade group photos per party.

Hiking and Camping

Choose one of the many gorgeous camping sites to immerse in the Everglades fully.

Interesting Everglades Facts

  • It’s 1.5 million acres
  • Of all the national parks, the Everglades is North America’s largest remaining subtropical wilderness.
  • It has its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Everglades National Park protects and houses rare, unique, and threatened species, such as the elusive Florida panther
  • The Everglades borders the Big Cypress National Preserve
  • The park boasts the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere

And many more! See More Facts About The Everglades

everglades national park entrance sign



Often referred to as the River of Grass, the Everglades is a sprawling, shallow, slow-moving river system stretching across a significant portion of Florida. This mesmerizing subtropical wetland ecosystem is characterized by its sawgrass marshes, mangrove forests, and its astounding variety of unique plant and animal species The Everglades’ rich biodiversity boasts over 360 bird species, 60 reptile species, 40 mammal species, and countless plant species. Some of the most iconic and endangered animals residing in the Everglades include the American alligator, the American crocodile, the Florida panther, and the West Indian manatee. The unique hydrological features of the Everglades facilitate a delicate balance of fresh and saltwater ecosystems, fostering a diverse range of habitats such as freshwater sloughs, cypress swamps, pineland forests, coastal prairies, and estuarine mangrove communities.


The Everglades are located in South Florida and cover a massive 1.5 million acres of the region, encompasses multiple counties including Miami-Dade, Monroe, Collier, Hendry, and Palm Beach. The Florida Everglades stretches from the Kissimmee River near Orlando in the north, through Lake Okeechobee, down to Florida Bay in the south.


The Everglades is an expansive and intricate ecosystem, spanning approximately 1.5 million acres or 2,342 square miles. It holds the third-largest national park spot in the contiguous United States, only behind Yellowstone National Park and Death Valley National Park. The enormity of the Everglades makes it a crucial habitat for a myriad of endangered and threatened plant and animal species.

Although the park is vast, you cannot just enter the park wherever you like. Instead, the best places to enter are either through the Shark Valley Visitor Center in Miami or the Gulf Coast Visitor Center near Naples.


The Everglades are more than just a haven of biodiversity; they are an integral part of Florida’s water supply and climate regulation. Beyond the obvious, something you may not know about the Everglades is that the wetlands serve as a natural water purifier, absorbing pollutants and excess nutrients while also mitigating flooding by storing vast volumes of water. The Everglades are home to numerous species highlighting its importance in conservation efforts. The Everglades also hold profound cultural and historical value, having been home to various indigenous tribes, like the Seminole and Miccosukee, for millennia. These communities have a deep bond with the land and its resources, and their history is woven into the fabric of the Everglades.

airboat tours in the everglades


Everglades Holiday Park offers a cornucopia of thrilling events and enlightening activities. These events allow you to experience the wonders of the Everglades firsthand. The national park is a premier sightseeing destination and dedicated to unforgettable experiences that showcase the beauty and uniqueness of this incredible ecosystem.

Airboat Tours

A highlight of Everglades Holiday Park is our adrenaline-pumping airboat tours. These high-speed, guided shore excursions whisk you deep into the heart of the Everglades. These airboat rides display the stunning landscapes and glimpses of the diverse wildlife that calls this place home. Skim across the shallow waters and be awe-struck by the breathtaking sights and sounds of the River of Grass. Our expert Everglades tour guides will impart fascinating facts and stories about the ecosystem. Learn about native animals in the Everglades and the rich history, creating an educational adventure for visitors of all ages.

Alligator Shows

Everglades Holiday Park is renowned for engaging and informative alligator shows. Led by experienced wildlife experts, these interactive presentations offer fascinating facts about these incredible reptiles, their behaviors, and their role in the Everglades ecosystem. You’ll even get the chance to see alligators up close, making for a truly unforgettable experience.

Wildlife Encounters

The park also provides opportunities for intimate encounters with a variety of other native animals, such as snakes, turtles, baby alligators, and birds. Furthermore, these interactive experiences are not only fun, but educational, as they also help cultivate a deeper appreciation and understanding of the amazing creatures that inhabit the Everglades. With expert guidance, you can learn about the animals’ habits, their environmental adaptations, and the importance of conservation efforts.

Educational Programs

Everglades Holiday Park promotes awareness and appreciation of the Everglades through various educational programs. Visitors can partake in nature walks, attend lectures and presentations, and engage in hands-on activities to educate about this unique ecosystem’s ecology, history, and significance. These programs cater to all ages and interests, making Everglades Holiday Park a spectacular destination for families, school groups, and nature enthusiasts alike.

Dive into the heart of the Everglades at Everglades Holiday Park, where every visit is an adventure! We can’t wait to welcome you to our park and immerse you in the wild beauty and rich history of one of America’s greatest natural treasures. Let’s embark on this journey together and discover the awe-inspiring wonder of the Florida Everglades!

Skip to toolbar