Wednesday, July 26, 2017

the cost of visiting Florida's national parks

If you're a regular reader around here, then you may have noticed how much we love the national park system. And it's our goal to visit all 59 of America's national parks. This will probably take us a decade, but is a fun adventurous goal to have.
Lately, we've started visiting all the parks within a state at once, like hiking through Utah's Mighty Five in Seven Days or Wandering Washington. So it should come as no surprise that we visited all 3 of Florida's parks within as many days. One thing I noticed compared to other national park visits is that we had to do a ton of research with trying to sort out our options for each park. Florida's national parks are unique and don't have as much hiking emphasis as others, so it can get costly with paying for activities in each park. I thought I'd share our budget friendly cost breakdown for visiting each national park. 

Everglades National Park 
Going in ascending order from least expensive to most expensive, Everglades National Park only charges a $25/car entrance fee for 7 day access. Luckily for us, we have an America the Beautiful Pass that gives you unlimited access to all US national parks for a year. In our case, our pass has already paid for itself 2X over. 
This park has the most options for hiking trails, which gave us plenty of chances to spot alligators up close. We opted to skip out on paying for activities here as the trails and free ranger talks offered exactly what we were looking for. After all, it's not everyday that you get to spot alligators in the everglades for free. 

Biscayne National Park 
There is no entrance fee for Biscayne National Park because only 5% of the park is on land. To really experience this park, you have to get onto the water. Renting a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard via the visitor's center is a great way to get onto the water inexpensively. On the pricier end, there is also the option of doing a sailing excursion for $150/person. For campers, drop-offs on the islands of Boca Chita Key & Elliot Key ($25 camping fee) are only $59/person
Alternatively, there is an educational boat tour of the bay and islands from the national park visitor's center for $39/person. We opted for Boating Biscayne, totaling our our national park visit at $80. For more info on pricing/options...check here

Dry Tortugas National Park 
This is by far the priciest national park to visit due to access. After you make it to Key West, you have to travel by boat or seaplane to get to the main island of Dry Tortugas National Park. Riding by seaplane runs $317/person for 2.5hours or $555/person for a full day tour of 6.5hours. Or you can take the ferry at $175/person. 
We opted to pay $195/person to ride the ferry AND camp, the extra $20 more per person gave us the opportunity to spend up to 3 days on the island instead of just a few hours. Definitely best bang for your buck. And the camping fee is only an additional $15 per night. I won't go into too much detail here, since we already shared a camper's guide to dry tortugas national park. But even though this was the priciest park, it's also the best and so worth it in our opinion.  Our grand total was $385including ferry and camping minus our national park pass discount. 

So there you have it, it cost us $465 to visit the national parks of Florida which is pricey by national park standards. But where else can you see alligators and jaguars, swim with a wild crocodile, snorkel with nurse sharks and barracudas, and live like a king on your own private island? I can't think of a better to place to have have spent our bucks than Florida's National Parks. Worth every penny.  


  1. These parks sound amazing! Even if you have to pay a little more you experience things that you wouldn't normally be able to see. Beautifully Candid

    1. definitely agree! It was so worth the extra expense