For a girl who’s afraid of unpredictable wild animals, exploring the depths of the Everglades National Park–with its thousands of alligators–was not too¬†exciting a prospect.

Especially when my husband thinks wading around and kayaking with them is a good idea.


But we survived. We saw a couple dozen gators and we didn’t get eaten. Accomplishment enough for me. But Cole wasn’t quite satisfied so we also hiked, went slough-slogging (well, Cole did), kayaked, took pictures, shared a campground with a million mosquitoes, dodged the rain, joined a few ranger programs, and learned a lot about this precious slice of the National Park Service down in southern Florida.

Enjoy a few clips of our adventure.

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Check out our post on Everglades wildlife sighting tips here… And remember to use code SWITCHBACKKIDS for 10% off any Purple Moose Basics order!

Written by Elizabeth

  • Paul

    We couldn’t stay in the Everglades longer than an hour due to the voracious mosquitoes despite having coated ourselves in Off spray. No wonder we didn’t see any other visitors there that day! Will definitely go back in the dry season.

    • Cole

      Yeah, we were there at the very end of the rainy season. The volunteers said that November rains had kept the water level high and the mosquitoes bad longer than normal. So I can’t imagine how bad it could get at the peak! I’d also like to go back in the middle of the dry season because you can see even more wildlife when it concentrates in the few remaining pools (mostly gator holes).
      I’m sure you’re not the only ones they have chased off!

  • Syd

    I’m really impressed with your ability to walk around in that water. We were there a couple years ago and went on one of the tours. You know. The ones with the big fan that scoot you really fast (sometimes) across the water? We stopped and our guide was throwing food in for the alligators and one rammed my side of the boat. I’m sure they could hear me screaming in Key West!
    Safe Travels!
    Syd Faassen
    Copper Harbor, MI

    • Cole

      Haha, wow! I would not want to be too close to the water when they’re in feeding mode. But I’m sure that was an awesome sight! I want to do a tour like that next time we go.

      All the rangers and guide books made it seem like going slough slogging in the water was a very casual thing to do, but I couldn’t blame Elizabeth when she wanted to stay behind. The water is so clear, but it’s still a bit unnerving when you have have no idea what you’ll run into or how far into the mud you’ll sink.

  • James Bordonaro

    Kinda surreal how S. Florida development goes right up to the edge of the park. Enjoyed reading Syd’s comment about the encounter with a gator.

    • Cole

      I agree. It’s like you’re driving through Miami and Homestead then all of a sudden everything disappears and you’re in miles and miles of sawgrass and cypress! It’d be cool to live in such a big city and be that close to true wilderness.

  • I frequent the Swamp People on TV. What I saw is much of what is depicted on the show. From what I viewed gators are not to be messed with. I’m glad I didn’t know you were in the swamp. Prayer of thanks has been said. When you have children you might be a little more cautious. Somehow the Lord builds that into your physci sp.

    • Cole

      I’ve only seen previews for that show, but there were definitely places where we were that looked the same. Fun fact: The rangers made sure to point out the Everglades are not a swamp. All the water is actually flowing very slowly in a wide swath from south of Orlando to the bottom coast of the Everglades. Elizabeth still maintains it seems exactly like a swamp to her ;). We were also surprised the rangers said we would have no problems in our kayak and really encouraged people to venture beyond the boardwalks. Either way we appreciate the prayers!