South Florida National Parks Issue Post-Hurricane Ian Update

by Amy Myers
Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Following the devastation and destruction of Hurricane Ian, Florida’s southern national parks have posted updates on the park’s closures and availability to the public.

The Big Picture

  • Hurricane Ian, a Category-4 hurricane, hit the west coast of Florida on Wednesday, closing down many of the state’s parks
  • Biscayne, Everglades, Dry Tortugas and Big Cypress National Parks have issued updates regarding reopenings
  • NPS officials warn that waters could still have “unidentified hazards”

On Wednesday afternoon, Florida’s NPS officials were on high alert as the Category-4 storm slammed into Naples and Sanibel Island with 150 mile-per-hour winds, just seven miles per hour under a Category 5 hurricane. As a result, the storm brought widespread floods, millions of power outages and, sadly, at least 10 confirmed deaths so far.

Naturally, Florida’s southern national parks closed down for the safety of visitors, staff members and natural residents. Now that the storm has passed, though, the parks have revised their statuses according to the condition of the environment.

Here’s what to know about the changes:

Current Statuses of South Florida National Parks

Biscayne National Park (partial reopening)

As of September 30, Biscayne National Park will be reopening the following areas for normal operations:

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

Everglades National Park (partial reopening)

Similar to Biscayne, the Everglades will be reopening only certain portions of the park on September 30. These include:

  • Shark Valley entrance, beginning at 8:30 a.m. 
  • Tamiami Trail airboat tours
  • The Homestead entrance and portions of the Main Park Road from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, starting October 1, these areas will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. “until the park is able to reopen the Flamingo area”

Contrastly, the following areas will still remain closed in the Everglades:

  • Gulf Coast Visitor Center and Everglades City entrance  
  • Flamingo area
  • Main Park Road south of Paurotis Pond 
  • All wilderness and front-country campsites and grounds

Dry Tortugas National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve (fully closed)

According to the NPS, Dry Tortugas sustained a “direct hit” from Hurricane Ian’s path. In an earlier release, the park stated that “Rangers completed hurricane preparations at the park this morning. Garden Key, Loggerhead Key and all other islands and facilities in the park are closed, including the campground, main dock and visitor courtesy slips on Garden Key, as well as the main dock at Loggerhead Key.”

These areas are still unavailable as park staff assesses the damages. Likewise, Big Cypress National Preserve, located just 40 miles inland of Naples, will not be open.

While the parks continue to update their statuses, the NPS reminds visitors to use caution while exploring both land and marine attractions as there may be hazards in the area.