Royal Palm

Everglades National Park

Descriptive Transcript

Description Narrator: A group of alligators thrash into the water. Fish swim around underwater vegetation. A controlled fire burns a habitat. A bird appears in a hole in a dead tree. A ranger gives a guided canoe tour. Aerial footage of Mangroves. A snail glides along a tree branch.

Everglades National Park. National Park Service logo.

Double-crested Cormorants sit on the railing along a trail on the man-made lake at Royal Palm. The birds are black and brown with orange beaks and vibrant emerald-green eyes.

Royal Palm.

Speaker 1: If you have just one hour in the Everglades, Royal Palm is a great place to stop. You can spend as little or as much time here as you’d like. Royal Palm is the starting off point for the Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail.

Description Narrator: A sign points to the Anhinga trail (0.8-mile loop), and the Gumbo Limbo trail (0.4-mile loop). A female ranger stands at the beginning of the trail.

Speaker 1: The Anhinga trail is one of the premiere wetland trails in the National Park Service, that winds through Taylor Slough and the Sawgrass Prairie. It offers excellent nature viewing experiences year-round, but especially during the winter or the dry season.

During the dry season, the alligators and the Anhingas are breeding, and a shrinking Taylor Slough concentrates the wildlife.

You can explore these trails on your own or with a Ranger-led program.

Description Narrator: A brochure reads: Royal Palm Ranger-led Activities. Anhinga Amble: Join a ranger for a 50-minute walk along the Anhinga Trail. Discover unique subtropical plants, birdlife and watch out for alligators! Meet at the benches at the Royal Palm Visitor Center. Wheelchair accessible.

Glades Glimpse: Short on time? Try the Glades Glimpse! Discover summer subtlety along the Anhinga trail on this 30-minute stroll. Meet at the benches at the Royal Palm Visitor Center. Wheelchair accessible.

A Black Vulture takes flight next to some visitors.

A male ranger speaks to a group of visitors.

Speaker 2: So, to really grasp this landscape, we've got to come to grips with a little geology. About 100,000 years ago, there was a shallow sea here. It was just 3,000 years ago that we would have looked at a map or looked visually at South Florida and might have called it Everglades. This is a brand-new landscape.

Description Narrator: An alligator floats partially submerged in the water. Another male ranger speaks to visitors.

Speaker 3: These alligators will actually make pits out there in the Marsh. They will make gator holes and they can be about ten feet wide, four to six feet deep, so they make this habitat for themselves so that they can live and have a place to survive during the winter.

Description Narrator: Underwater footage of small fish. A Great Blue Heron walks in shallow water.

Speaker 3: Meanwhile, all their favorite foods come to live in the same spot with them. Those are also places where birds come to congregate, and those birds will be able to go on the edges of that gator hole and capture the fish that they need and then roost in the trees. You know, the cypress trees right above it.

We call them a keystone species, you know, and they're kind of an architect of the Everglades.

Description Narrator: A bird sits on a tree branch.

An Anhinga swims in the lake, dipping its head underwater looking for fish.

Speaker 3: These birds that you see across the way in the pond apple trees over there are in Anhingas. They are nesting here, that's why we call it the Anhinga Trail.

Description Narrator: Multiple views of Anhinga behavior including juveniles in the nest. A close-up of an Anhinga preening its feathers.

Speaker 3: Everyone's favorite spot is the Anhinga Trail because it's where you see the most up-close wildlife. And I like to remind people of this is that this is the kind of, it's a unique situation, the fact that we can get this close to birds like this and alligators. Typically, these same animals in a part of the park that doesn't have a trail like this are scared of people.

Description Narrator: An alligator crawls out of the water next to an Anhinga. Turtles sit on a branch and an alligator floats in the water near the visitors on the trail. Visitors take photos of the wildlife.

Speaker 4: You can see them better over here. [camaras click]

Description Narrator: Maria Guerrero of Miami, Florida sketches scenery in a sketchbook.

Maria Guerrero: We're actually taking pictures and doing sketches of different parts of the habitat so that when we go back to the classroom, we're going to mix them up and do a landscape. I'm drawing this area here where you see the little bridge, see there. I like the perspective, the diagonals of the bridge. The brownish, there's yellow, different shades of green.

Description Narrator: An alligator rests in muddy water. Visitors walk along the trail.

Speaker 1: The Gumbo Limbo Trail is a self-guided paved trail winding through a subtropical hardwood hammock, a habitat type unique to South Florida.

Description Narrator: Visitors walk the forested Gumbo Limbo trail. Close-up of patches of lichen on a tree trunk.

Mary Sholtey: What I saw today, well, a little lizard about that big, he was about the same color as the branch he was sitting on. I saw a couple of small little birds that would fit in the palm of your hand. They're kind of a blue-gray color. A lot of foliage. A lot of palms and ferny-type things that I sure wouldn't see if I went through a walk of native hardwoods in Indiana.

Description Narrator: Mary Sholtey of Syracuse, New York.

Mary Sholtey: It's a good example of probably successional growth and what happens to growth after like a hurricane.

Speaker 1: For your trip to Royal Palm, and the rest of the Everglades, it is a good idea to bring your own food and water. Additional water is available at the Coe Visitor Center and here at Royal Palm.

Description Narrator: Drinking fountains, vending machines, an information board, and gift shop at the Royal Palm Visitor Center.

Speaker 1: In addition to the two trails, Royal Palm also has restrooms, vending machines and a gift shop.

Description Narrator: The interior of the gift shop, selling books, clothes, toys, and other accessories. A realistic toy of two baby alligators on a mother alligator’s back. Image fades to two baby alligators in the water.

Speaker 5: Did you expect to see stuff like this on this trail or are you surprised?

Ian Stewart: Yes, but not so much. I didn't think we'd see all the Anhingas and stuff, even though it's called the Anhinga trail.

Speaker 5: Is there one thing that stuck in your head?

Description Narrator: A boy stands in front of a group of adults. Ian Stewart of Plymouth, Minnesota.

Ian Stewart: Well, how important the alligators are to the ecosystem, they dig the holes and get all the organisms come live with them in the water. And then they provide food for the gators, the bobcats, the otters, huge diversity of species.

Description Narrator: A cormorant walks along the paved trail toward a photographer with a tripod.

Speaker 5: What would you tell visitors that have never been to Anhinga Trail before?

Speaker 6: Take the guided tours.

Ian Stewart: Make sure you bring a camera,

Speaker 7: Take advantage of your tax dollars.

Speaker 6: And bring binoculars.

Speaker 7: Yeah, bring binoculars.

Speaker 8: You can see things without the guided tour, but you find out the background of everything by taking the guided tour.

Speaker 1: For more information on the Everglades, check out our other podcasts or check out the park's main website.

Description Narrator: An alligator walks slowly past buildings while text appears on screen: Royal Palm is open 24 hours a day. Food and pets are not allowed on park trails. Both trails are wheelchair accessible. Assisted listening devices are available.

Speaker 1: Royal Palm is located about five miles southwest of the Ernest Coe Visitor Center.

Description Narrator: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Everglades National Park.

Everglades National Park video.

Producer, Director, Editor: Jennifer Brown.

Executive Producers: Greg Litten, Allyson Gantt.

Featuring: Ranger Jennifer Wilcox, Ranger Leon Howell, and Ranger Mason McLeod.

Music performed by: LVX Nova, ‘Kyoto Nights’ from the self-titled album, and Jami Sieber, ‘Invisible Wings’ from the Lush Mechanique album. Magnatunes Records,


Informational video about visiting Royal Palm.


6 minutes, 57 seconds


NPS video by Jennifer Brown

Date Created


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