Why go? The Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, with 1.5 million acres of marshes, estuaries,
and prairies, and shady stretches of pine, cypress, and mahogany. The great “River of Grass” flows from its northern headwaters
at Lake Okeechobee southwest into the mangrove tangles at the southern tip of the Florida peninsula.
Why care? Decades ago, the Everglades’ freshwater flow was altered to accommodate agriculture, growing cities, and safety concerns. The dams and diversions starved and polluted the delicate ecosystems―and the species that relied on them.
Plan your trip: Everglades National Park (nps.gov/ever) is open year-round, but some facilities have limited hours during the wet summer season. Seven miles from the Flamingo Visitor Center, hikers can pick up the West Lake Trail, on which American crocodiles often make appearances. Search Green Lodging Florida (dep.state.fl.us/greenlodging) for a place to stay or check out Ivey House Bed & Breakfast (iveyhouse.com); rooms start at $70.
How to help: The Everglades Foundation (evergladesfoundation.org) leads the battle to protect and restore the River of Grass.