Everglades National Park | ROYAL PALM AREA

Alligator in the Royal Palm are of Everglades National Park

Alligator in the Royal Palm are of Everglades National Park

Ernest Coe Visitor Center

Royal Palm Visitor Center

Hiking Trails

Guided Tours

Long Pine Key Campground

Backcountry Camping

The Royal Palm Area is located on the east side of Everglades National Park near Homestead, Florida. The road into the park, Main Park Road, runs all the way to Flamingo. For my review of Royal Palm, I will consider the area to cover all attractions down to the Mahogany Hammock Trail. Everything south of that is covered in the Flamingo Area review.

After Shark Valley, Royal Palm is my favorite place in the park. A walk along the Anhinga Trail will yield nearly as much wildlife as at Shark Valley. The only problem with Shark Valley is the crowds, for it is the most popular section of the park due to its location right on the Tamiami Trail, making it an easy stop for people who weren’t even planning to see the Everglades. Visitors to Royal Palm are people who have actually gone out of their way to visit the park. I stopped by the Royal Palm Visitor Center multiple times on a Sunday in February and could always find parking, whereas by noon at Shark Valley you may be parking as far as a mile from the entrance.

Royal Palm has one of the only two campgrounds in the park, Long Pine Key Campground. There are no electric or water hook-ups for RVs, so if that is what you need, try the Flamingo Campground (hook-ups at some sites) or stay at the private campgrounds in Homestead.

Rangers run a number of tours in Royal Palm, including my favorite, the Nike Missile Site Tour, the only history-based tour in Everglades National Park and one of which very few people are aware. Also, if you have a chance to do a swamp walk, which the park calls the “Slough Slog,” don’t miss that. I did a similar tour at Big Cypress National Preserve, the Big Cypress Discovery Hike, so I spent my time on other things while visiting the Everglades.

There are a few short trails in the area, but other than the Anhinga Trail, none are special. The longest hike is along the Old Ingraham Highway Trail. Bikes used to be allowed on the trail, but this section of the park is now a Wilderness Area and no wheeled devices are allowed.

Vultures are a problem at both Royal Palm and Flamingo because they love to tear the rubber off your car. This includes windshield wipers, rubber molding around the windshield, soft tops, and any exposed rubber gaskets. Tarps are provided at Royal Palm Visitor Center, but there are not nearly enough to go around (none are provided at Flamingo). I advise you to bring your own tarp and plenty of bungee cords to strap it to the car. It’s not a guarantee that your car will be victimized, as mine never was and I didn’t have a tarp, but I witnessed it happen (see photo below) and talked to a few others who had their vehicles damaged.

Tarps provided at the Royal Palm Visitor Center

Tarps provided at the Royal Palm Visitor Center

Vultures have a feast

Vultures have a feast

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Last updated on February 22, 2021
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