Two Great Things To Do in Everglades National Park

A bunch of our friends joined us for a day trip to Everglades NP. The two targets were a short drive from the southwest Miami county RV park. Our first visit was to the NIKE Missile Base for their free tour. Debbie and I did this a few years ago when we stayed in Okeechobee for two months. It was fascinating then and we were happy to return. The big surprise on this year’s tour is the addition of a completely restored NIKE missile.

picture of restored NIKE missile

NIKE missile base tour is a must do

Our tour guide, Kirk, was the same guide as at our last visit. He was just as good as before. Kirk really knows his material and projects a great feel for the cold war period events. We walked and listened to Kirk, then drove to the missile barns where we saw the new NIKE missile. A local group located and restored a NIKE missile for this exhibit. It really improves the talk and our understanding of what the airmen went through for each launch preparation.

Picture of vulture warning sign

A stark warning against potential damage

We picnicked at Long Pine Key State Park under beautiful skies then took a short drive to Royal Palms State Park. Although we found it difficult to believe, there have apparently been some expensive vulture attacks on parked cars at Royal Palms since our last visit.

picture of tarp on car to stop vultures

Vulture-proofing Herb’s car at Royal Palms

A large footlocker by the visitor’s center parking lot provides blue tarps and bungee cords to cover your car’s windshield trim, windshield wipers, and side view mirrors. The car of a friend of ours was “vulture-damaged” last year. Can you believe $1,200 damage to the windshield trim and the windshield wipers? Debbie and Herb take a few minutes to securely cover Herb’s car. They don’t have to do a great job, just better than the adjacent cars.

picture of laughing alligator

Laughing alligator


Royal Palms is a fun place to walk about. There are tons of alligators and colorful birds near the walk paths and raised wood deck areas. This alligator seemed to be smiling or laughing when we walked by. Or maybe he thought we looked pretty tasty?

picture of neat bird at Royal Palms

Very cool bird at Royal Palms

This bird was sitting on the deck railing as we walked by. I was within three feet of him for several minutes waiting for him to smile. He didn’t, but he did turn nicely and pose for this profile. Doesn’t he have great coloring on his neck and around his eye?

The NIKE missile base tour and a visit to Royal Palms State Park are entertaining and educational. Two visits to each give us a good feel for the venues. The birds and gators at Royal Palms change by the minute. And the historic site group supporting the NIKE missile site is doing a nice job updating their exhibits. We will look forward to a return in the future.

We spent a day in Hollywood, a day at South Beach, and a day in Everglades National Park. Are we at any risk of running out of appealing attractions in Miami? There are plenty more things we want to do! We haven’t visited the Metro Zoo, Biscayne National Park, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, or Coral Castle, just to name a few of the must-see things in the area. And we haven’t explored downtown Miami. Let’s return to Miami in 2014!

Jim and Debbie
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2 responses to “Two Great Things To Do in Everglades National Park

  1. Richard Hunt

    Thank you for the report on these day trips and photographs. We are gathering information for places to visit and/or camp in Florida. I did not know that vultures were such a menace to parked cars. I presume they must be going after the bug debris on or around the windshields.

    • Rich, Good on you! We tried to think what attracted the vultures, and wondered if it might be some sweet coating formulation people appñy to their trim (e.g., RainX or Back to Black). Your notion sounds much more feasible to me.

      We ARE looking forward to spending next March in Miami — great things to see and do, wonderful climate in March. Only wish Larry Penny Thompson Park had tennis courts too. Oh well. . .

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