Flamingo Lodge is No More

Flamingo Lodge before the 2005 hurricanes ruined it.

You may have read about the imminent demise of the Flamingo Lodge in my earlier Traveler post or other sources. Well, the waiting is over. The building, which was hurricane-damaged beyond repair in 2005, has been demolished.

This is a pretty sad situation, and I don’t mean just the irrevocable loss of a beloved (if quirky) structure that was built half a century ago and used by Everglades National Park visitors of just about every conceivable stripe. The rub now is that there won’t be a replacement structure at Flamingo Key for many years – if ever.

Constructing a new “green” lodging complex, re-doing the marina, and taking care of related needs will cost $20 million or more. Where will that kind of money come from? NPS funds are not available for lodging construction in Everglades or any other park (a standing fact for decades). And alas, there were no “shovel ready” plans for a Flamingo lodging project that might have been considered for economic stimulus funding. Finally, and most regrettably, scrounging up adequate private funding in today’s economic climate is a mighty mountain to climb.

However this plays out, you’ll still be able to enjoy overnight stays at Flamingo if you like (or at least can tolerate) camping/RVing. The campgrounds have been reopened and electricity is available in the tent and RV areas.

There’s also good news for Flamingo marina users, including those who’ve enjoyed the houseboat rentals and have patiently waited for the marina to replace the eight houseboats lost to the 2005 storms. Two replacements houseboats now on order are reportedly due in soon. As you may know, canoe and skiff rentals are already available, Whitewater Bay boat tours are operating, the Marina Store is open for business, and fuel sales have resumed. For additional information, schedules, and reservations, phone the concessioner at 239-695-3101.

Comments

What a dump, glad it's gone, 36 types of mosquitos in the area.

The campgrounds are great and anyone who can't tollerate them can drive on over to Miami Beach. After all, there's nothing in the everglades but grass, water, and 'gaters.

Oh my.....I spent a couple of days, more like a week, touring the Everglades. It was May 2006. I loved it. Even the mosquito's. Of which there really weren't that many at that time of the year. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get down to Flamingo, only because it was still closed down due to the hurricane of '05. I would have loved to have seen it before the cane took it out. But then, I'm in love with that type of architecture anyway. Back in the day, built by the CCC, but then that's just me. So, there is NO WAY, it will be rebuilt, not at all? Only die hard campers, I suppose, would go on down there and camp/rv it. But then again, that's just what us "die hards" do, isn't it?

Too bad! We stayed there several times over the years and always enyoyed ourselves...even the lizards in the room. It was all part of the experience. Had some pretty good meals in the restaurant too. I'm sure that those people expecting the "Hilton" experience were disappointed, but we never were. After all, it was the Everglades.

I never had the pleasure of an overnight stay at Flamingo myself, Dick, but I've heard plenty of feedback from people who have. The Flamingo area of Everglades NP is an outdoor recreational cornucopia, offering great birding, fishing, boating and paddling, and other delights. I won't let the Lodge's demise keep me from enjoying those things when I get the chance. That said, I will make sure to avoid the place during the warmer/wetter months when the mosquitoes are at their worst. I don't mind tenting, but I do have strong objections to donating my blood to mosquitoes. It's in my hard wiring. Growing up in Michigan, I dealt with mosquitoes that were as big as eagles. They worked in teams of three. Two of them would hold you down while the other would drill you.

Bob mentioned mosquitoes. I worked in Everglades for 3 years. I probably traveled to Flamingo at least twice a month from park headquarters. One of the most comical sights in the Flamingo area was to watch foreign tourists in Flamingo during the summer--they were really the only ones there besides a few die hard fishermen and the park and concession employees. There were large patches of grass between the parking lots and the visitor center and the lodge. These areas were cut by sidewalks so people could get to these buildings without walking on the grass but it was a little longer walk. Many times you would see these foreign visitors, usually dressed in shorts and tank tops because of the warm, humid weather, begin to walk across the grass. After about 4 steps, they would have disturbed the mosquitoes lurking in the grass. The first sign would be that the visitor would slap the first mosquito to land on him/her. The rest of the way to the building became a mad dash with numerous slaps to various parts of the body. They looked like whirling dervishes. It was an absolute lock that they would walk back to their vehicles on the sidewalk.

Rick Smith

Our family stayed there in the late 80's and had a great time. It was March and we don't recall the mosquitos at all. We would have used repellent in any case, but perhaps they were hibernating? I think we still have the logo glasses from the bar/dining room. The birds and wildlife were teriffic and we still recall the story the guides told about witless tourists trying to pose next to alligators, even trying to get them to open their mouths. I'm sorry the deep everglades experience will be gone. It will be impossible for most people to imagine what Florida was like before it got built-up

The last time we stayed there, a rain storm came up early one morning. The wind was blowing and the rain was about horizontal. It was coming in around the windows so bad that my wife was putting towels down to try and keep some of it off the carpet. I'm sure those buildings would have rotted away sooner than later if the storms hadn't taken them. Great times there.

It's a shame that our government can't afford to keep up the parks better. I've been waiting for this lodge to open for years. Maybe we'll try to camp there. The Everglades are full of beautiful creatures.

I'm still mourning the loss of Flamingo Lodge. Since I travel alone, I always felt safe going to the lodge when I wanted to visit the Everglades. Staying in the local motels is NOT my favorite experience, though I have done it. The notion that a 30 room hotel will suffice, or that we should stay in "eco-tents" is ludicrous.

Twenty years ago, I had the best piece of fried fish I've ever had in my life at Flamingo Lodge restaurant. I had returned after visiting as a kid in the 1970s. And to hear that I can't "go home again" is just down right sad. If I had $20 million, I would donate it tomorrow.

Never stayed in the lodge, but thought I would some day. I can always dream.

Just came across this article and must say good riddance to your kind or type....yeah what we need is more towering condo's here in Fl....... can't you see the spectacular country the untended land that is meant to hold you in its bosom ......yeah good bye to you go visit a small area covered with the ant-like people such as yourself ....probably despoiling the land with your trash and your attitudes.

Sadly we can Empire build around the globe, but can't rebuild a Lodge for the citizens. Trillions of tax payer dollars are sent to Iran, Afghanistan and Israel annually for these countries infrastructure.

The Military/Industrial complex has usurped the American people and the Constitution.

I was just on the maps reminissing about my season working at Flamingo, many more years ago than I want to admit, this truely is a sad loss. Hi so hope that one day it will come back, for the tourists and for the workers, we had people from all over the world working there, Very fond memeroies of that, and I still have very fond memerioes of a wonderful person from Finland, - A lifetime ago

There's more than grass, skeeters, and gators down in Flamingo. If you know where to look, there are crocodiles! Manatees too, but never found any of the elusive womanatees. Added over a hundred bird species to my lifetime list in my six months living in the park. RIP Flaming-O Lodge...


Not one more dime of foreign aid should be allocated until places such as this lodge are rebuilt by our so called government. Further, I can't understand why this place was not insured against damage from hurricanes, like every other building in Florida.

I was in Flamingo last week (Thanksgiving 2010) it was beautiful as always. Mosquitoes were thick as soup but so were the hawks and other birds. I spent most of my time changing out the trucks alternator on the side of the road next to Mrazek pond. There are worse places to be stranded. Can't wait to go back .
Stranded

And if you forget your jumper cables you can tie two baby gators tail to tail and clamp them onto the battery terminal! :-) I had the same problem with my car when I was there, but took three months to fix it. Was in no hurry!

I loved staying at the old lodge, and eating at the restaurant. Had lots of good times there. No, it wasn't the fancy uptown place some people seem to always expect, but, hey, it was deep in the Everglades, and Flamingo was great for star gazing at night. I used to like the screened-in pool. And the mosquitoes--those pesky little flower pollinators--were all part of the wild experience.

I'm not sure where all that stimulus money went (who is?), but it's too bad a few million didn't go to rebuilding a fine lodge for Everglades National Park.

To everyone that has a great memmory of a day or two spent at the last frontier of the florida EveryGlads (FLAMINGO LODGE & MARINA) as i do. working there in 2004. I had the best time of my life, making new friends and seeing old ones from another resort. sitting down on the back docks watching the birds, If i could i would rebuild it. For anyone reading this i was the pizza cook in the buttonwood lounge. miss the place i have been waiting to go back there to work., maybe one building at a time, I'm game, just takes some one willing to do it.simply by sending a dollar at a time or two right.

Two years after this comment was written, there is still no danger that the government will do anything. There are no labor unions or green jobs down there to fund.

In 1979,on my first excursion from home at age 18, I left N.Carolina and moved to Hialeah, Fla. Soon thereafter, I heard of jobs at Flamingo Lodge and a friend and myself went down there. We subsequently got jobs as waitresses in the restaurant. It was a truly fun and different experience for us. We lived in the employee cabins, drank beer dispensed from Pepsi machines for 75cents (in the employee housing areas only), and had some great times, along with beautiful scenery and sunsets. The Lodge and Restaurant were both in what I considered to be very clean and presentable condition, unlike the "dump" that was stated in an earlier comment (although the employee housing was somewhat crude and left a little to be desired). But I consider it one of my happiest life experiences. As the southern-most point of the mainland in Florida (and possibly all of th U.S. mainland?), it is an area that I feel should be preserved as a U.S. National Park and subsidized by the federal government as such. Best wishes for the future of Flamingo!

Today while looking at google satelite maps of Everglades Park today, I couldn't find the Flamingo Resort. I didn't know what occurred in 2005 till I found this site. 1978 (Late June of all times) - My wife, 8 yr old daughter and I took a camper-van road trip vacation that included Shenandoah, Smoky Mtns, and Everglades Natl Parks with a last stop at Disney World. Sleep a hot, humid night in the camper at Homestaed then toured Everglades the next day spending the night at the Flamingo. Definitely wasn't a 4 Star, but in that humid heat a room with AC was great. Took the an interesting guided tram ride from Tamiami Trail to the Observation Tower, drove back down to Homestead and the park road to Flamingo. After checking in we went to the room and must have killed 50 mosquitos. After eating - food was decent - we left the marina on a beautiful sunset cruise in the bay with beautiful sunset. When we got back to the room, we ran from the van to the door, entered the room and shut the door quickly. Only had to kill a few more mosquitos and had a cool, reestful night. On the way out we stopped at an overlook at a small lake and got to see to women fishing with bamboo poles with a gator moving back and forth about 20 feet out. Didn't get out of the van and watched as they turned to put more bait on their lines, the gator moved in close. One of them screamed and they both started beating the water or gator with the bamboo poles. The gator went further back out into the lake and they continued fishing. That scene was just unbelievable to us.

I don't like the heat, humidity or mosquitos but to this day I still the trip to the Everglades and Flamingo well worth it. In fact our framed Flamingo Resorts, Society of Explorers poster is still hanging in our family room.