Great Outdoors Month: Things to Do in Florida’s National Parks This Summer

Celebrate Great Outdoors Month by exploring Florida’s national parks!

Winter and spring are known to be “the season” in South Florida, but even during the summer months, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors.

We’ve highlighted some of our favorite summer activities below to give you some outdoor inspo, but as always, check the weather before heading outside, apply sunscreen regularly, and make sure to stay hydrated!

Explore the Everglades virtually this Great Outdoors Month

Bringing the Outdoors Inside

Each year, rangers from the education team of Everglades National Park lead thousands of students into the many different habitats of the park, allowing them to become scientists for a day during these immersive field trips.

In celebration of the park’s upcoming 75th anniversary, the education team is now bringing that experience TO YOU!

Adults, families, and children alike are invited to join the team on a live-streamed virtual program to explore habitats and watch for wildlife in the third largest national park in the lower 48 states – Everglades National Park!

Habitats that will be explored include:

Sawgrass Prairies: Flooded marshland with alligators, birds, fish, and other aquatic animals
Pine Rocklands: Fire-dependent ecosystem that boasts many endangered plants and animals
Hardwood Hammock: The highest and driest habitat – former home to many Native Americans!

This virtual event is free to attend, but please register via the following link to receive instructions on how to watch! www.evergladeslive.eventbrite.com

Anhinga Amble

Then head to the park to test what you’ve learned! Take a stroll with a ranger and explore the renowned Anhinga Trail where alligators, wading birds, and other wildlife are easily spotted! Meet at the Royal Palm benches at 10:30 am any day of the week – this ranger-led program is offered 365 days a year. Check out Everglades National Park’s calendar for more details!

Trail blazes lead the way through Big Cypress National Preserve

See how the wonderland that is Big Cypress National Preserve transforms during the summer rainy season.

Thanks to our partners at the Florida Trail Association, every mile of the Florida Trail in Big Cypress National Preserve – plus Robert’s Lake trail, the blue loop trail and the trails north of I-75 – all received maintenance in one season.

In addition to routine maintenance and blazing, two new benches were installed in Big Cypress. One is now located at Ivy Camp and the other at the Tropical Island, which serves as a great destination for those interested in experiencing Big Cypress for a half day outing of 2.8 miles round trip.

The FTA crew also spent some time clearing additional space at Thank God Island. Get all of your questions about hiking the Florida Trail answered at www.floridatrail.org.

The lighthouse of Loggerhead Key towers over vibrant, underwater coral

It’s easy to wax poetic about at Dry Tortugas National Park because if a traditional picture is worth a thousand words, than a photo of Dry Tortugas is worth a million.

World class snorkeling, voted as one of the top 10 places to camp in the Southeast by The Dyrt, the largest brick masonry structure in the Americas, a haven for native wildlife. Dry Tortugas offers a little bit of everything and then some!

But the remoteness of the park – it’s 70 miles off the coast of Key West – usually means that you’ll be able to spend the quality time that you want to in the park without the chaos of big crowds.

The best way to get to there is via the Yankee Freedom ferry. Seats are already booked through the last week of July, but you can use Great Outdoors Month as an opportunity to treat your future self with a trip later in the year!

Book a trip to Dry Tortugas on the Yankee Ferry at www.drytortugas.com.

Great Outdoors Month on the trails of Biscayne National Park

Last year, Biscayne National Park kicked-off a $6.3 million project to complete repairs to areas that were significantly damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017.

One of those projects was the rehabilitation and renovation of the beloved boardwalk and trails surrounding the park’s visitor center.

What are some new things visitors expect to find there once the trail and jetty reopen this summer?

The 4,320 square feet of hardened trail, between the existing boardwalk and fixed bridge to the jetty, will be replaced with boardwalk.
The boardwalk will be extended approximately 50 feet beyond the fixed bridge to provide accessibility to the jetty.
The rock retaining wall has been repointed and low-voltage lighting has been placed at edge of the boardwalk.

This area will reopen to the public later this month at the tail end of Great Outdoors Month or possibly early in July – and we’ll make sure you get all of the details once it does!

These programs are only possible with your support. Please consider donating today! https://floridanationalparks.org/donate/

And don’t forget, winter activities are just a few months away!!