Last weekend I did a road trip to the end of State Route 9336 in Florida. Once you reach the end, you reached the small town of Flamingo. Well, it used to be a fishermen’s town before the Everglades became a National Park. After that, people left and also got forced out of their homes later on. The National Park Service built a ranger station and visitor center in Flamingo. Besides that, there is now a small marina with a shop.
There used to be a lodge and a restaurant but the hurricanes Wilma and Katrina damaged the buildings here a lot. The lodge got demolished and the restaurant is still closed.
Before the 60 mile-long State Route 9336 was built, Flamingo was connected to the outside world via a small road – Old Ingraham Road. The Old Ingraham Road connected Flamingo with Florida City. This road is now part of the Anhinga Trail and is used for hikers and bicyclists only.
The new state route takes you to Flamingo in about 60 minutes. There is another visitor center right before you enter the National Park. You don’t need to pay to visit this one, but if you want to continue down to Flamingo, you need to pay the National Park fee.
Along the way, you find numerous turnouts with information placards and trailheads. The drive itself is not very scenic. It’s just flat swampland with no real views.
It gets interesting once you reach Flamingo. There are quite a lot of activities but during the summer month, most of it is on hold or reduced to a minimum. The main season for this area is the winter time, from November to April. November and April are the end and beginning of the rain season. This time is also high season for the campground located at the very end of the road. During my visit last week, nobody was out there camping. It is just too hot and too many mosquitos are around. Make sure you wear repellant, even in the winter time.
There are boat tours to the backcountry and the bay. If you want, you can rent boats and bikes at the marina. The little shop at the marina has everything you need, from groceries to camping supplies to boat and road fuel.
At the visitor center is a small museum telling you the story of Flamingo before and after the Everglades became a National Park.
There are two trails I can recommend, the Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail at the Royal Palm Visitor Center. It’s super easy to find. Once you passed the National Park Entrance Station, where you pay for getting in, make a left a few miles down the road. There is a big sign right on the street.
I saw a turtle swimming in the pond, which you will pass on the Gumbo Limbo Trail.
And of course, if you are lucky enough, you can see Flamingos here as well. I didn’t see any during my visit.
Have you been to Flamingo yet? The main reason I went down here, was to make use of the annual pass for National Parks which I bought during my visit to Zion National Park in Utah.