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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.


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.

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