Hikers and cyclists are about to have something new to explore in Florida’s national parks. This development is the result of a decades-long battle.
Millions of visitors flock to the Sunshine State yearly to relax and enjoy the nightlife, but others are drawn to the natural beauty and outdoor opportunities. These adventurers will be excited to learn about the new 42-mile greenway connecting two of Florida’s most popular destinations.
Today, we’re exploring the effort to link the Biscayne and Everglades National Parks to non-motorized travel.
Let’s jump in!
Biscayne-Everglades Greenway Links Florida National Parks
After Hurricane Andrew devastated the Miami-Dade region, revitalization efforts took a new track. Instead of focusing on car-centric development, cyclists pushed for change.
Beginning in 1992, the pro-cycling group pushed for a linkup between Biscayne and the Everglades. First successful at the local level, lobbyists pursued their dream for decades. City, county, state, and federal officials had to sign off on the project.
The first section of the trail opens in early 2023 in the downtown area of Homestead. Situated halfway between the two parks, the city runs a weekend trolley for tourists. They’ve hopped on board with the plan and serve as the central hub of the 42-mile loop.
This shows Miami-Dade officials’ commitment to green development at the cost of $50 million. Long-term plans include bringing 500 miles of greenways to the county.
About Everglades National Park
Just an hour from the chaos of Miami, Everglades National Park is one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Since 1934, when Congress declared the 1.5 million acres protected, visitors have flocked to the region. The marshy national park is a World Heritage Site that protects the character of Florida.
Most visitors come to Everglades National Park during the dry winter months. Relatively warm temperatures bring tourists, as do high numbers of birds and reptiles. From December to April, tourists enjoy ranger-led programs and high-quality animal encounters. In the rainy months, May to November, mosquitos outnumber people, so most programs are on hold.
Visiting the park, you’ll enjoy ten ecological regions. Plan ahead for visits, so you have time to experience them all. You can access the park through the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, and Tamiami Trail.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for these Most Dangerous Creatures in Florida.
Is Biscayne National Park Worth Visiting?
Biscayne National Park is around ninety percent water. Best seen by canoe or snorkel, over 600 species of fish call the area home. Mangrove forests, part of the third oldest coral reef in the world, and Biscayne Bay bring visitors to the site.
Not only a site of natural wonder, the park includes a story of human evolution. Home to our species for over 10,000 years, Biscayne National Park contains signs of habitation nearly everywhere. Shipwrecks also dot the bay. The Maritime Heritage Trail, a famous canoe and scuba trail, showcases six shipwrecks dating back to 1878.
Biscayne National Park is one of the top scuba diving sites in Florida, so make sure to pack your flippers. The northernmost islands in the Keys are also part of the park. Elliot Key, the largest, used to house settlers who farmed pineapple and scavenged from shipwrecks.
Now, Elliot Key has some of the best camping in the park. Visitors are encouraged to reserve sites early!
Other Places to Visit Near the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway
The Biscayne-Everglades Greenway circles a diverse area. Homestead, and other nearby towns, give visitors many reasons to stick around.
Homestead Bayfront Park
A popular access point to Florida’s Biscayne National Park, Homestead Bayfront Park, is right on the water. A shallow atoll pool draws family simmers, and canoes and snorkelers love the area. Sunbathers and swimmers love the vintage lifeguard stands too.
Herbert Hoover Marina, the park’s full-service marina, tackle shop, and fuel depot, is popular with boaters. The boat launch can handle vessels up to 50 feet long. A large pier puts anglers in prime real estate for perfect views and excellent fishing.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset throughout the year. Make sure to call ahead for the latest updates on amenities and weather.
Schnebly Redland’s Winery and Brewery
Getting out of the Miami gridlock may take forever, but Schnebly Redland’s approach to wine-making is worth it. Possibly one of the most unique wineries you’ll ever visit, this spot uses the local bounty. Instead of grapes, Schnebly uses tropical produce to make his wines.
Mango, lychee, passion fruit, and even avocado make it into Peter Schnebly’s concoctions. Limestone and thatch palms make the winery and nearby brewery feel like part of the landscape. If you’ve got time to spare, check the calendar for things like goat yoga, live music, happy hour, and more.
Everglades Outpost in Homestead, Florida, is an animal sanctuary with a mission. Different from a zoo, sick or injured animals are brought in and rehabilitated. Once they’re healthy, the critters get released back into the wild if they’re able.
Get up close and personal with wildlife on one of their behind-the-scenes tours. For an additional fee, you can get a chance to see the workings behind the sanctuary. Everglades Outpost, founded by Bob and Barb Freer in 1991, continues its mission through donations.
As a non-profit organization, volunteers run the show. You can make an appointment during the week, but weekends are open to walk-ins. Weekend availability runs Friday through Sunday, and you can book tours on their website.
Pro Tip: You’ll love exploring these 7 Underrated Florida Tourist Attractions.
Best Camping Near the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway
Camping is one of the best ways to see the natural wonders of the Biscayne-Everglades region. As expensive and crazy as Miami is, camping offers a quiet respite. Some of our favorite camping spots are centrally located to great nightlife and Florida’s national parks.
Long Pine Key Campground
One of two front-country campgrounds, Long Pine Key, is open from November to May. One hundred eight sites allow tent and RV camping with incredible views. Reservations are available, but they keep some walk-ups held aside if no spots are available.
Nature is the most significant amenity in Long Pine Key. Even though showers are available, they’re only hot later in the day. If you’re looking for white-glove service, this isn’t the place for you. But as a jumping-off point for exploring the parks, the campground is ideally located.
RVs larger than 35 feet won’t fit the camping pads, but the park doesn’t restrict you to those spots. Dry camping is the only option, so fill your tanks before you arrive.
Miami-Everglades RV Resort
With the word “resort” in the title, you get what you pay for at the Miami-Everglades RV Resort. Full amenities, including gas and groceries, mean prices are higher than other campsites. Hot tubs, pools, and proximity to the parks make for fully booked camping in the winter months.
Walking trails, mini-golf, and other community activities ensure you meet the neighbors. Sites are spacious, but consistent rule enforcement is difficult. Long-term residents also take up some of the prime locations.
Limited options in the area give Miami-Everglades a boost for sites with amenities. Most people report enjoying the resort, but check the reviews before you book. It’s a mixed bag.
Florida’s National Parks Linked at Last
Florida’s weather is perfect, especially in the winter when the rest of the country is indoors. Investment in the region constantly improves options, and you’ll love the new greenway. When it’s fully open, cyclists will appreciate an option that doesn’t involve motorized traffic.
Miami-Dade drivers are some of the worst. But traveling between Florida’s national parks is about to get much safer if you can handle the heat.
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