South Florida National Parks Continue Rolling Openings After Hurricane Ian

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Less than a week has passed since Hurricane Ian completely devastated regions across Florida, and, national parks located in the state’s southern regions are continuing to reopen.

According to the National Park Service website, openings began on Monday, October 3rd. Nevertheless, while areas including Everglades National Park’s Main Park Road and Flamingo District have opened without restrictions, Florida national park officials continue to warn visitors about potential hazards in the park. They specifically said, “Visitors should exercise caution because of the potential for unidentified hazards on land and in park waters.”

More than anything, the statement is likely referring either to debris or potentially threatening animals that have washed into park waters or onto park shores and land regions.

Reopening near Main Park Road is the Homestead Entrance and Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. In the Flamingo District, park officials are welcoming visitors to the marina as well as its visitors’ center. In addition, national park visitors have also been welcomed back to the Shark Valley entrance and visitor center. That all said, campgrounds and sites located near the Flamingo District remain closed.

The NPS added additional locations and regions of Florida’s national parks that remain closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Several of these include the Gulf Coast Visitor Center and Everglades City entrance, Long Pine Key campground (seasonally closed), and various wilderness camping locations.

Other Florida national parks suffering the after-effects of Hurricane Ian include Dry Tortugas National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Biscayne National Park. Be sure to check back at Outsider for the latest updates on Florida’s national park closures and reopenings.

South Carolina Closed Their National Parks Ahead of Hurricane Ian’s Florida Departure

Hurricane Ian proved more than destructive enough when it made landfall on Florida’s west coast on Wednesday. However, the Category 4 storm also ravaged regions throughout South Carolina. To best protect its citizens as well as its national parks, South Carolina began closing national parks of its own after seeing the destruction in Florida.

Before making its third landfall on Thursday, South Carolina closed the following national parks: Fort Sumter National Historical Park, Fort Moultrie, and Charles Pinckney. Fort Sumter and Charles Pinckney stopped admitting visitors on Wednesday, September 28th, the same day Hurricane Ian completely ripped through areas of Florida, most heavily in places like Naples and Fort Myers.

The NPS stated after issuing the closures, “All closures will remain in place until severe weather passes…and the National Park Service conducts post-storm assessments to determine that employee and visitor facilities are safe. Current status of the parks will be posted as an alert on the park’s websites.”

Aside from Florida and South Carolina National Parks, however, storm damage from Ian appeared so intense that parks as far away as Georgia also began shutting their doors.