Pinky-Keen at Flamingo in Everglades National Park

Retro Pink on the Flamingo National Park Service Visitor Center and Restaurant
Retro Pink on the Flamingo National Park Service Visitor Center and Restaurant

Pink? Seriously? Most buildings at Flamingo in Everglades National Park are no longer government issued brown or cream but pink.

My Personal Connection to Flamingo
When living and working in Flamingo during the 1990s, I always felt we were the step-child of the national park system. It seemed as though “rules” applicable to other parks managed by the company didn’t apply to us. (When I started it was TW Recreational Services then acquired by what was called Amfac and most recently Xanterra.) As a park, it doesn’t have the dramatic geology and scenery most other parks have. There are no mountains. No canyons. No geysers.

Instead, Everglades National Park holds a treasure of biodiversity. Both American crocodiles and American alligators inhabit Flamingo. More than 300 species of birds have been spotted (as well as 43 species of mosquitoes but we won’t discuss that) and renowned for world-class fishing. The flora is pretty special, too, with sawgrass, orchids and cypress trees – just to name a few. Everglades National Park is the third-largest park in the continental U.S. yet still doesn’t gain the recognition it should.

Knowing all this, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised the National Park Service has painted most of the buildings in a 1950s retro flamingo pink hue. Just like an ignored child, Flamingo is now screaming, “Look at me!”

Flamingo Marina Store Screaming
Flamingo Marina Store, Everglades National Park, Screaming “Look at Me!”

Flamingo – Where Did the Name Come From?
Visiting Flamingo in Everglades National Park, one expects to see pink flamingos. While living there in the 1990s, I saw plenty of roseate spoonbills and maybe one or two flamingos. So why is this town located on the shores of Florida Bay at the southern-most tip of continental Florida named Flamingo?

This is the tale I heard while living there:

Back in the day (1893) the outpost needed a name in order to receive mail. “End of the World” was already taken by Key West so the founders settled on Flamingo. One school of thought is they chose Flamingo because the houses were built on stilts and looked like the tall, elegant birds. Another story says the town was named after the exotic pink bird because they were spotted there frequently.

In either case, the town is called Flamingo.

See that Building in the Background? It's Rocking Pink. Everglades National Park
See that Building in the Background? It’s Rocking Pink. Everglades National Park

Rose-Colored Glasses Not Needed in Flamingo
I last visited Flamingo in 2008 following Peter’s (former husband) passing. The Flamingo Lodge was in ruins thanks to the 2005 hurricanes named Katrina and Wilma. The eateries, the Flamingo Dining Room and Buttonwood Cafe, were closed up but the marina was in operation with boat tours, canoe and kayak rentals and fishing charters. Ramps were being used by fishermen.

Sunday was a quick, impromptu visit. It wasn’t hard seeing changes made at Flamingo, specifically since major buildings had been painted pink earlier this year. The Flamingo National Park Visitor Center, the Buttonwood Cafe – inside and out, the Marina Store, and even Eco Pond.

No. Eco Pond is not a building but a freshwater pond and hotspot for birds and the occasional gator.

Birds Wading in Pink Water at Eco Pond, Everglades National Park, May 23, 2011
Birds Wading in What Looks Like Pink Water at Eco Pond, Everglades National Park, May 23, 2011

Yes. These facilities are pink. See the photos? The video below also shows a very pink looking Eco Pond. I tried finding a ranger while in Flamingo to find out why it’s pink but the visitor center wasn’t staffed. Although I saw a law enforcement vehicle, I didn’t see anyone. I know, budget cuts.

I have Tweeted and posted the question on Facebook. Let’s see if I get a response. I really hope it doesn’t have anything to do with the new paint job. If memory serves me, there’s some connection between water from the resort/housing area and the pond.

Could it be caused by a high nutrient content? Or, maybe the park service is raising awareness about saving the ta-tas, you know, breast cancer awareness. Hmm. Stay tuned.

Later this week I’ll post video from my visit to the former site of Flamingo Lodge.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to support this blog, my traveling habit, and my special-needs dog. 



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

4 thoughts on “Pinky-Keen at Flamingo in Everglades National Park

  1. I worked as a waiter in the cafe in the summer of 1965. I have so many great memories of the place! I would love to correspond with you – see my email address, and write to me if you’re interested. Thanks for posting this – the pink in the pond is quite suspicious.

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