Mar 22, 2009 - Wanderlust    No Comments

US National Parks | Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Diverse, unique ecosystem. Peaceful co-existence. Nature. These are the words that come to mind when I think of the Everglades.

Everglades NP kayaking

Everglades National Park contains an impressive variety of animals, plants and ecosystems. There are tropical hammocks, coastal lowlands, marl prairies, pine and cypress forests, mangroves, and several different marine environments. Such a vast array of life all hanging out together!

everglades dolphins
Hey cute little dolphins

Everglades memories

I first visited the Everglades while in college.  While other co-eds were headed to Florida’s beaches, my (then) boyfriend and I headed to the woods [and marshes and swamps].  We spent the days kayaking down the 99 miles of waterways and the nights camping in the parks.  Because who doesn’t want to spend a week in the swamps .  With a boy…Instead of on a beach. I was terrified I’d get eaten by an alligator. But like a true Nat Geo Photographer wannabe, I took the SLR[film] camera[s] and accessories out in the kayak, and took some amazing shots of  birds, alligators, crocodiles [I hit one on the nose with my kayak paddle. He’d gotten a little too close for comfort], manatees, snakes, turtles, even  cute little dolphins.

everglades kayaking 1

Requisite kayak photo

While it’s not necessary to be an animal lover [but really, how can you not be] or Ranger Jane, it certainly helps you fall in love with the Everglades.

everglades alligator

 EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK TODAY

Everglades National Park is huge, huge (1.5 million acres), and most of it can only be explored by some form of  boat.  Kayaks are excellent for getting around and getting up close with nature, but you still need to prepare ahead of time. In order to maximize time and sights, I’d recommend visiting the south/ southeastern areas of the park.  It seems to have the best combination of activities, trails, and tours.  Bonus points for being near the cities of Homestead and Florida City so you can sleep in a hotel instead of under the stars among the wildlife should you choose to do so.

Everglades boardwalk

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