South Florida

National parks in South Florida are celebrating a birthday, and you get the gift

File Video: Everglades Park offers tour of historic missile site

In this March 2009 file video, Everglades National Park offered a tour of the Nike Hercules Missile Base. Today, the site serves no official use, but is a relic of the height of the Cold War in South Florida. To continue to preserve the oral histo
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In this March 2009 file video, Everglades National Park offered a tour of the Nike Hercules Missile Base. Today, the site serves no official use, but is a relic of the height of the Cold War in South Florida. To continue to preserve the oral histo

Want to become one with nature this weekend?

Admission to all U.S. national parks will be free Sunday to celebrate the National Park Service’s 103rd birthday.

The U.S. National Park Service was created on Aug. 25, 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Act.

The birthday celebration is one of five days this year that entrance fees will be waived. The entrance fee waiver does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours, according to the U.S. National Park Service website.

There also was free admission on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on Jan. 21 and the first day of National Park Week on April 20.

If you can’t make it Sunday, all parks will have free admission again on Sept. 28 for National Public Lands Day and Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.

Those in South Florida who want to take advantage of the birthday festivities can visit the following parks for free:

Everglades National Park

Where is it?

Unlike most national parks, Everglades National Park has three entrances in three different cities:

Homestead entrance:

The park’s main entrance is at at U.S. 1 and takes visitors to the Royal Palm area and the Flamingo area of Everglades National Park.

Miami entrance:

The closest entrance to the Greater Miami area is 36000 SW Eighth St. and takes visitors to Shark Valley.

Gulf Coast entrance:

The closest entrance for those in the Naples area is 815 Oyster Bar Lane, Everglades City.

Visitors should keep in mind that these entrances do not connect within the park. Boaters and paddlers can also enter the park through its coastal boundaries and waterways.

Biscayne National Park

Where is it?

There is never an entrance fee for this park, but if you still want to visit, prepare to arrive by boat.

According to the park’s website, 95% percent of the park is covered by water and 90% of visitors arrive by boat. If you don’t have a boat, the park does have a list of approved guided boat tours at nps.gov/bisc.

The park’s visitor center is at 9700 SW 328th St., Sir Lancelot Jones Way in Homestead.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Where is it?

Almost 70 miles west of Key West, this 100-square-mile park is mostly open water and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. The park offers a list of suggested charters, ferry and seaplanes and instructions for those who have their own boat or seaplane. You can find this information at nps.gov/drto.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Where is it?

There is never an entrance fee for this park, but if you still want to visit, you can access it by driving from Miami or Naples.

It has two visitor centers:

Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center is at 33000 Tamiami Trail East.

Oasis Visitor Center is at 52105 Tamiami Trail East

To see the complete list of Florida’s national parks, visit nps.gov/Florida.

To see the entire list of national parks that are waiving their entrance fees, visit nps.gov



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Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM
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