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5 reasons to head to the Everglades for a special birthday this Friday

Everglades National Park is one of Florida’s most cherished parks. This gigantic wetland (1.5 million acres, to be exact)  is a natural habitat for thousands of alligators, snakes, birds and other wild creatures. The park extends for hundreds of miles from Central Florida to South Florida, varying its size depending on the rain and/or drought.

On Friday, August 25, you can enjoy this national park for FREE simply by entering at the Homestead and Shark Valley entrances. This doesn’t include any camping or equipment rentals. Why? Because it’s the National Park Services birthday

So if you haven’t visited Everglades National Park yet, now’s your chance. And here are 5 reasons you’ll love it:

1. History
This shallow, slow-moving sheet of water covered almost 11,000 square miles for thousands of years — then humans came around.

By the 1900s, people started turning the wetland to dry land in order to build farms and cities such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The Everglades National Park was established in 1947 to conserve and protect the natural landscape and prevent further damage to the land, plants and animals.  

»Related: Boost for pollution-fixing Everglades protection plan

»Related: Top 10 public parks in Palm Beach County

2. See wild animals and endangered species

The Everglades is home to many animals that have adapted to the tropical wetland. The park’s swamps are a mixture of both sweet and salt water. Some of theatened animals living at the park include the Florida pantherAmerican crocodileAmerican alligatorWest Indian manateewood stork, and snail kite. You can also see turtles, dolphins and snakes.

3. Outdoor Explorations

The park offers an endless list of outdoor activities. Biking through the trails, hiking, bird watching, camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing are just a few of them. Many people take science workshops and guided tours or volunteer to learn more about the ecosystem and nature of the park.

»Don’t forget: Plan a stop by Robert Is Here, the Disney World of fruit stands

4. Thrilling boat rides

You can’t come to the Everglades and not take a boat tour (and then not post it on social media). This is a fast way to see a lot of the park in a short amount of time. You’ll go through narrow canals and open water areas, and you’ll see animals in their natural habitat.

»Can’t see the video above? Click here to experience an Everglades airboat ride.

»You make like: Scroll through photos of Everglades park, which is home to an abandoned missile site and turned 70 on May 30, 2017

5. Alligator Heaven

Whether you’re from Florida or not, seeing a wild alligator is a thrilling experience. And to see these creatures hunt and feed in person is quiet a scary show. The Everglades is the only place on Earth where alligators and crocodiles coexist. 

If you go: 

Tip: Call to make sure which entrance is open and near you.

Address: 40001 State Road 9336  
Homestead, FL 33034  

Phone:  (305) 242-7700 

Other free days: September 30 (National Public Lands Day) and November 11-12 (Veterans Day Weekend)

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