Everglades National Park encompasses 1.5 million acres of tropical wilderness wonder. It is one of the larger national parks in the lower United States. It is also home to some rare and scarce wildlife such as the manatee, the American crocodile, and Florida panther. If you are looking for a primitive and minimal human intrusion, then exploring the Everglades is the perfect adventure for you!
This national park is so large; my journey consists of only a small portion of Everglades. The other amazing park is Big Cypress National Preserve, which connects with Everglades. The Florida Everglades have always been a little bit mysterious in many people’s eyes. Together with its mystical features and unchartered open wilderness, the Everglades has attracted both wildlife and early settlers to the area. The peoples most familiar with the territory early on, are American Indians; the Calusa and Tequesta and later the Seminole and Miccosukee. This was home to them.
The landscape of the Everglades is fascinating and is far more than just a flat open space. During the early years (1800s – 1900s) many thought this land was a worthless swamp. However, it didn’t take too long for them to learn how precious this wetland region is. After several developments caused what is now the park, to dry up, Everglades National Park was established in 1947. However, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is now working to create the historic flow of water as it was in the past. These efforts are showing results with several birds and wildlife returning to their nests.
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I certainly enjoyed and have an appreciation for the simplicity and the small amount of commercialization this park has. The park’s survival depends upon minimal human interference. I love the fact that the park is in a very natural state; even the welcome center at the Gulf Coast entrance is simply a small trailer structure. There is also a small parking area with minimal black top and mostly dirt roadway. The restrooms are simply mobile small trailers. The experience one can gain by visiting these remote and authentic parks can be extraordinary.
There are a couple visitor centers and entrances to the Everglades including Shark Valley Visitor Center and Flamingo Visitor center. These are located closer towards the greater Miami Area. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center offers a boat tour among the 10,000 islands region of the park. Of course, there are several other local air boat tours, kayak and canoe rentals, and adventure excursions.
We proceed on to check out some of Big Cypress National Preserve which is located adjacent to Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and Picayune Strand State Forest. Big Cypress National Preserve is quite interesting land space. One of the most unique experiences one can have here is known as Night Sky. It has been designated as an official International Dark Sky Place. This prestigious designation is rare nowadays with the expansion of urbanization and light pollution. Big Cypress has one of the last protected night skies where you can see the Milky Way and thousands of stars with the naked eye.
Our greeting to Big Cypress began with a sleepy friendly welcome by a napping alligator right near the dirt parking areas here. We gander at him for a while and take a few photos quietly. Then we proceed to the Big Cypress Boardwalk which is a point of interest stop directly off of U.S. Route 41/Tamiami Trail. This is another roadway with big history throughout the state of Florida.
The concept for the Tamiami Trail (aka US 41) began in the early 1900s. US 41 finally came to life after several designations and sections added. In the 1950s, the newly configured US 41 was extended eastward and northward, first to downtown Miami along US 1 in 1950, then to Miami Beach along US 1 and SR A1A in 1953. While US 41 and SR 90 have not significantly changed since the 1960s, its importance to travelers of southeastern Florida has changed since the opening of Alligator Alley to the north in 1968.
I have traveled all across the U.S. and Florida is one fascinating state! The incredible landscapes, sunsets, and ecosystems here are remarkable. I have ventured through several nature preserves and parks and have traveled all around the state of Florida now, but there are still many areas I have yet to see. I appreciate your support and thank you for following me and subscribing! I invite you to come along this journey, as there is still much more to see and explore! Stay tuned for more travel stories!
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