Friday, April 1, 2016

South Florida parks and preserves

Gator in napping in water at
Big Cypress Visitor Center
We spent a couple days exploring the south Florida natural wonders. First was the Big Cypress National Preserve. In 1974, Congress created this preserve to protect the fresh water's natural flow from the Big Cypress Swamp into the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands. The preserve is also one of the last habitats left for the endangered Florida panther. For the day-traveler like us, there is a small visitor center, boardwalk and air boat rides. We didn't do an air boat ride. Outside the visitor center is a long narrow pond with gators so you are sure to see one.

Biscayne NP looking north from
Visitor Center
We also went to Biscayne National Park. The park was formed to protect the islands, keys and coral reefs and all of the water wildlife that lived in and around them. This park is only 5% land so in order to see it your must use a boat. We took the park managed boat trip to Boca Chita Key which had a park service volunteer as a guide. We did not feel the boat trip was worth the money. All it did was go out to the key, spend 40 minutes there which included seeing the lighthouse, and ride back. The visitor center was small but good with an excellent film. Based on what we know now, we wish we had allowed time to canoe along the shore and in the mangroves. Canoe rentals are available.

Approaching Boca Chita Key harbor

View from Lighthouse on Boca Chita

Since we were so close we made another drive into Everglades National Park. We were there 4 years prior, but in the beginning of February. That first trip was fascinating with all kinds of wonderful, exotic (at least to us) birds and lots of gators of all sizes. This trip on April 1 was the opposite. There were no birds and only a few gators. The lesson learned is to go there in January or February for peak wildlife viewing.

1 comment:

  1. When you two finally decide to settle down, I bet you could get a job working for AAA as travel advisors/editors or writing travel articles. Maybe you could even take Dan Davis' job with Highroads ->