Hurricane Ian Closes Both Everglades and Biscayne National Parks as Category 4 Storm Produces Record-Breaking Winds

by Jon D. B.
Chief Science Officer of The Everglades Foundation to underwater vegetation Steve Davis, points on a map explaining Everglades wildlife in Everglades National Park, Florida on September 30, 2021. - The largest wetland in the United States is the battleground for one of the largest ecological conservation efforts in the world. But time is running short, and global warming is threatening a subtropical wilderness that is home to more than 2,000 species of animals and plants. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

After rapidly intensifying, Hurricane Ian has made landfall in Florida and is shutting down the state’s beloved national parks.

Now a Category 4 hurricane, Ian is causing catastrophic damage and the National Park Service isn’t taking any chances. Florida’s most visited national park, Everglades National Park, is now closed to the public and bracing for impact. The park would close alongside Biscayne National Park Tuesday evening, September 27 at 5:30 PM.

As ABC News reports, “Only four hurricanes have ever made landfall in the continental U.S. with winds over 155 mph.” Ian is set to break this record as it approaches with winds already at 155 mph.

Park entrances and visitor facilities are unavailable as the park places the “safety of visitors and staff” above all else. During the storm, “Emergency services are extremely limited. No visitor services are available while the closures are in effect,” the park states in their media release.

Some Floridians cannot evacuate, however, as they live on the water. “If you must be on the water,” the park adds, “stay tuned to the forecast and keep a sharp lookout.”

Thankfully, Everglades will continue to offer safe harbor to these residents during Hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Ian’s Impact on Everglades National Park:

  • Vessels may continue to seek safe harbor in the designated areas within the area of Ponce De Leon Bay, the Little Shark River between marker 1 and marker 69, and the main tributary of the Shark River
  • The Flamingo Marina is closed
  • Chickee camping platforms are closed, and vessels are not permitted to tie off to the chickees
  • No wilderness camping permits will be issued until further notice 
  • Concession-operated services and tours are also suspended

Biscayne National Park Closures Include:

  • Convoy Point Grounds 
  • Dante Fascell Visitor Center 
  • Biscayne National Park Institute tours 
  • Florida National Parks Association bookstore 

These following areas remain open in Biscayne for the safety of residents:

  • Boca Chita Key 
  • Elliott Key 
  • Adams Key 
  • All park waters  

After Hurricane Ian and resulting severe weather pass, the National Park Service will assess park conditions to determine when it is safe to reopen. Until then, potential visitors from outside the parks should assume all access is unavailable.

If the storm track changes, however, the parks may issue a new advisory with updated status. This may include lifting any closures. Please check the NPS Hurricane and Severe Weather Response for updates for all National Park Service sites.

Previous Gulf Closures Amid Ian’s Wrath

As Hurricane Ian approached inland Florida, Dry Tortugas National Park also closed all public access until further notice.

The national park, located some 70 miles west of Key West, first closed at noon on September 26. Then, three more NPS sites would close in preparation for the storm’s arrival. Closures stretch all the way from the Florida Keys to Savannah, Georgia, emphasizing the impact of hurricanes on America’s Gulf region.

Stay safe out there, folks!