After Hurricane Ian, Florida’s national parks reopen with restrictions

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Last week, Hurricane Ian swept away highways, leveled homes and swept away at least 100 lives while sweeping the south. The national park system was also not immune to damage. As Florida continues to tally the wreckage, the National Park Service released a statement on the state of Florida’s National Parks and Preserves.

Visitors to Florida’s National Parks and Preserves should expect to see downed trees, debris, damaged infrastructure, and other potential obstacles. Marine waters are currently open in all locations. The Gulf Coast, wild camping and campgrounds in national parks and reserves are closed until further notice. And here is the status of the parks themselves:

Biscayne National Park: Open

Although Biscayne National Park experienced heavy rain and wind during the hurricane, most of the storm missed the park, leaving it relatively unscathed. The park is currently open for normal operations. Visitors will have access to the following amenities:

  • Convoy Point Land
  • Dante Fascell Visitor Center
  • Park Headquarters
  • Biscayne National Park Institute Tours
  • Florida National Parks Association Bookstore

Everglades National Park: partially reopened

Everglades National Park officials have worked diligently to clean up hurricane wreckage from the park, and those efforts are starting to pay off. On Monday morning, the park reopened the Flamingo District and the rest of Main Park Road to visitors, according to a Facebook post. The entrance to Shark Valley opened at 8:30 a.m. and airboat tour operators along the Tamiami Trail will continue standard tours.

Nevertheless, visitors should keep in mind that the park actively cleans up debris and fallen trees. Some trails were washed away by the hurricane and it may take some time for the park to fully recover.

Wilderness camping and the frontcountry remain closed. Some park amenities may be temporarily unavailable. Park officials encourage visitors to check directly with park concession businesses to confirm they are open. The Gulf Coast District in Everglades City suffered the most damage and will likely remain closed.

Dry Tortugas National Park: partially reopened

Hurricane Ian directly hit Dry Tortugas National Park, initially causing it to close completely. Most of the damage from the hurricane was caused to the coastal area of ​​Garden Key, where docks suffered extensive damage. Since Monday, the park is partially open again. Seaplane tours are available to the public, but the docks on the Loggerhead and Garden Keys will remain closed until Thursday, October 6 or later.

Big Cypress National Preserve: partially reopened

Due to a number of identified hazards on the preserve, Big Cypress was initially closed to the public. But, as of today, the park is open with one exception: Bear Island Campground, which suffered massive flooding, forcing it to close until further notice.

The park service warns that the damage to these historic sites has yet to be fully assessed. Those who choose to visit Florida parks should exercise extreme caution due to unidentified risks. Consider calling ahead or checking local websites for post-hurricane status.

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