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Everglades National Park Safety and Regulations 

Welcome to Everglades National Park, a beautiful place in South Florida where you can have an amazing adventure! 

But before you go, knowing how to stay safe and follow the rules is important. 

This guide will help you have a great time while keeping things simple and easy to understand.

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Planning Your Trip: Remember the Seasons

The weather in the Everglades changes a lot throughout the year.

There are two main seasons to be aware of: the Dry and Wet seasons.

The weather is nice and not rainy during the Dry Season (November to April). 

It’s a good time for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and paddling.

You’ll enjoy pleasant temperatures and beautiful views.

It gets hotter and rainier in the Wet Season (May to October). 

Hence If you visit during this time, it’s essential to be ready for the heat and humidity. 

But the Wet Season also brings lush greenery and many opportunities for boating, fishing, and seeing wildlife.

Important Safety Tips

Before you start your adventure, let’s go over some essential things to keep in mind to stay safe:

Be Aware of Your Physical Fitness and the Weather

Be Aware of Your Physical Fitness and the Weather
Image: Nps.gov

Ensure that you and your group are in good shape for outdoor activities. 

Remember, it can get scorching and humid, especially in the summer. 

Drink plenty of water, wear the right clothes, and watch the weather forecast.

Know the Trails and Tell Someone Your Plans

Know the Trails and Tell Someone Your Plans
Image: Nps.gov

Learn about the trails and their length before hiking, biking, or paddling. 

It’s also a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. 

That way, if something goes wrong, the park authorities can help you.

Be Prepared for Outdoor Activities

Bring plenty of water, especially during the summer. 

Use bug repellent if you’re going to be near lots of plants. 

Remember to wear sunscreen to protect your skin. 

And make sure you wear the right clothes for what you’re doing.

Keep a close eye on little Children and Pets

Keep a close eye on little Children and Pets
Image: Nps.gov

Watching out for little kids, especially wildlife and water, is essential in the Everglades. 

Animals move freely in the park, so it’s best to be cautious. 

If you bring your pet, remember they’re not allowed on most trails. 

Keep them on a leash and away from wild animals.

Don’t Feed the Animals

Feeding wildlife is a no-no. 

It can make the animals aggressive and is against the law.

Alligators and crocodiles may see humans as a food source if people feed them. 

So let’s let the animals find their food naturally.

Beware of Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are pretty common in the Everglades, especially at certain times of the year. 

Protect yourself from bites and mosquito-borne diseases by wearing long sleeves, pants, and insect repellent. 

Stay away from shady areas and tall grass. 

Mosquitoes like overcast days and dusk or dawn, especially in the summer.

Now, let’s dive into the boating rules and regulations to ensure we cover everything!

Everglades National Park Boating Regulations

Boating in Everglades National Park offers great opportunities for fishing and recreational activities.

But following the Everglades National Park rules and regulations is essential to ensure safety and protect the park’s resources.

Park Boating Regulations

Park Boating Regulations
Image: Nps.gov

Apart from Coast Guard and Florida State regulations, there are specific regulations that apply within Everglades National Park:

Prohibited Collecting

Collecting plants and animals in the park is not allowed, including orchids, air plants, sea horses, starfish, tropical fish, marine snails (live or dead), lobster, coral, sponges, and driftwood.

Wildlife Harassment

Harassing wildlife is strictly prohibited. 

It’s crucial to observe animals from a safe distance and not disturb their natural behavior.

Boater Education Program

Recreational boaters must finish the park’s Boater Education Programme and carry the certificate when boating.

This program helps ensure boaters are knowledgeable about safety and environmental regulations.

Safety Reminders

Safety Reminders
Image: Nps.gov

When boating in Everglades National Park, keep these Everglades National Park safety reminders in mind:

Check the Weather and Tides

Before heading out, check the weather conditions and tide predictions. 

Be prepared for mosquitoes, especially during certain times of the year.

Carry a Nautical Chart and Compass

Always have a nautical chart and compass with you. 

These tools will help you navigate park waters and avoid getting lost or running aground.

Use Marked Channels and Navigational Aids

To prevent propeller damage and protect seagrass beds, use marked channels and navigational aids, and rely on push-poles or paddles in shallow areas.

Prohibited Craft

Certain types of watercraft are prohibited within Everglades National Park:

Water Skis

Towing people using water skis, hydra slides, kneeboards, or similar equipment is prohibited.

Personal Watercraft

The operation of personal watercraft, such as “Wet Bikes,” “Jet Skis,” and other similar trade names, is prohibited.

Submersibles

The use of manned and unmanned submersible watercraft is not permitted.

Unmanned Aircraft

Using drones, quadcopters, remote control planes, or any other device for flight without direct human control is prohibited.

Motors Prohibited

Motors Prohibited
Image: Nps.gov

Certain areas within Everglades National Park have restrictions on motorized vessels. 

Before entering these regions, remove all combustion engines and trolling motors from the boat. 

Freshwater Lakes

All freshwater lakes, including Paurotis and Nine Mile Ponds, prohibit combustion engines and trolling motors.

Noble Hammock and Hells Bay Canoe Trails

These trails from Park Road to Lard Can are designated as motor-free zones.

Long Lake to Garfield Bight

Motors are not allowed in this area, except for watercraft with engines of 6 horsepower or less on West Lake.

Specific Lakes and Bays

Little Henry, Henry, Monroe, Middle, Seven Palm Lakes, Joe and Snag Bays, and other inland creeks and lakes north of Long Sound have motor restrictions, except for certain ponds and lakes associated with Taylor River.

Other Designated Areas

Coot Bay Pond, Mud Lake, Bear Lake, Homestead Canal, small lakes along the canal, and associated small lakes on Cape Sable, have restrictions on motorized vessels.

Closed Areas

A small percentage of Everglades National Park is designated as a closed area to protect sensitive habitats and wildlife.

These closed areas include:

  • Islands in Florida Bay
  • All keys (islands) in Florida Bay are closed to protect bird nesting areas. 

Some exceptions apply, such as:

  • North Nest Key
  • Little Rabbit Key
  • Cape Sable (for landing and camping)
  • Carl Ross Key (for summer day use) and 
  • Bradley Key (open for day use all year, permits required for camping).

Northeast Florida Bay: 

  • Little Madeira Bay
  • Taylor River
  • East Creek
  • Mud Creek
  • Mud Bay
  • Davis Creek and other creeks and bays inland from the northern shoreline of Long Sound to U.S. 1 are closed areas.

Everglades City Area

  • The Lane Cove Colony, a small group of islands south-southeast of Everglades City, is designated as a closed area.

Other Posted Areas

  • Additional areas may be closed by order of the Park Superintendent.

Idle Speed Zones

Idle speed zones are designated for vessel operation below five mph (idle speed). 

In Everglades National Park, the following areas have idle speed zones:

Key Largo Area

  • Marker 42 Creek
  • the Bogies
  • Shell Creek
  • Nest Key (as posted)
  • McCormick Creek.

Flamingo Area

  • Florida Bay and Whitewater Bay boat basins
  • Tarpon
  • Avocado and North Prong Creeks
  • Buttonwood and East Cape Canals (where marked) and
  • the shoreline of Florida Bay east of the marina (as posted).

Everglades City Area

  • Alligator Creek
  • Plate Creek
  • Halfway Creek
  • Gopher Key Creek (where marked) and 
  • the area between Wilderness Waterway Markers 86 & 87.

Pole/Troll Zones

Pole/Troll Zones are areas in Florida Bay with a maximum depth of two feet. 

In these zones, combustion motors are prohibited, and all propulsion must be done by poling, paddling, or using electric trolling motors.

Manatee Protection Zones

To protect manatees, certain areas in Everglades City and Chokoloskee are designated as idle speed, slow speed, or limited speed zones. 

Please observe manatee protection signs in these areas and throughout the park.

Now let’s talk about the Everglades National Park fishing regulations.

Everglades National Park Fishing Regulations 

Everglades National Park Fishing Regulations
Image: Nps.gov

Fishing is a popular activity in Everglades National Park. 

You can catch different types of fish in both freshwater and saltwater areas. 

But, to ensure that the fish population stays healthy and the park is well looked after, there are rules for fishing. 

These rules are meant to protect the fish, their homes, and make sure everyone has a good time.

Before fishing in the park, you need to know the rules. 

You must have a fishing license if you are aged 16 or older. 

You can get this license online or at special places. 

Sometimes, you may need extra permission to fish in certain areas or catch certain kinds of fish. 

This is to ensure responsible and sustainable fishing.

There are also limits on how many fish you can catch and keep. 

These limits change depending on the kind of fish and where you are in the park. 

In addition to freshwater fishing, you can also go saltwater fishing in Everglades National Park. 

There are specific Everglades National Park saltwater fishing regulations, such as size and bag limits for different fish species, and certain areas may be closed for fishing. 

Make sure you know and follow these rules for a great fishing experience while caring for the park’s precious resources.

It’s important to check the official park resources or ask a park ranger about the specific fishing rules.

By following these Everglades National Park regulations, you can enjoy your time in Everglades National Park while ensuring the safety of yourself, others, and the park’s unique natural resources.

Featured Image: Nps.gov

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