Everglades National Park Journals

The Everglades: River of Grass

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A travel journal to Everglades National Park by reef2020

Mangroves from the air. Photo, Everglades National Park, Florida More Photos
Quote: The largest subtropical wilderness in the United States is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife. While most people visit in the winter dry season (when wildlife tends to be the most concentrated), there is a lot to be said for visiting in the wet season as well.

The Everglades: River of Grass

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Overview

Quote:
Don't miss Shark Valley. This is the best part of the Everglades, and the best place to get a feel for what Marjory Stoneman Douglas called 'The River of Grass.'Quick Tips: Avoid Flamingo, especially in the summer months. Everyone has the romantic notion of seeing flamingos in the wild, but flamingos aren't even native to Florida. Yes they have been seen here, but it is rare. Flamingo is buggy, not particularly scenic, buggy, a long drive, and buggy. Get the picture?Best Way To Get Around: At Shark Valley, take a tram tour if it is your first visit; bike the loop after that. At Everglades City take a boat ride. At Royal Palm, walk the Anhinga Trail. And if you must go to Flamingo, do...Read More

What is the Everglades?

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Story/Tip

Wood Stork Photo, Everglades National Park, Florida
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Though the main flow of the Everglades is in an area called Shark Valley, you won't find any sharks here. Nevertheless, it is indeed a valley. The 'mountains' on either side of the valley are only a few feet high, but that is just enough to keep the water contained as it flows southward from Lake Okeechobee. Flowing water through a valley is called a river anywhere else, and it really is no different here. Despite what most people think, the Everglades is not a swamp. A swamp is a wetland with trees growing in the water, and has very little flow. The Everglades is truly a river -- a very wide (up to 40 miles), shallow (usually no more than a foot or so), very slow moving river. The headwaters a...Read More

Shark Valley

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Story/Tip

Biking at Shark Valley Photo, Everglades National Park, Florida
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This is the best part of the Everglades. A fifteen-mile long loop trail takes you right into the heart of the 'River of Grass.' From the 65-foot tall observation tower, it is quite easy to understand where Marjory Stoneman Douglas came up with her now-famous name for this place. It just seems to go on forever in all directions. You'll see tree islands of several types: willow heads, bay heads and hammocks. Notice how they are teardrop-shaped: wide and blunt at the upstream end, where the water-carried sediments build them up, and narrow and tapered at the downstream end, where the water flows past on both sides, eventually rejoining itself. Of course, the thing most people go to Shark...Read More
Boat Tours Photo, Everglades National Park, Florida
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South of Naples lies Everglades City, the western gateway to Everglades National Park. This is a water-based area, so you won't find any trails to hike or roads to drive. What you will find are boat trips out through the mangrove wilderness of the Ten Thousand Islands. This network of channels is easy to get lost in, or to lose others in. Historically, it has been a great place for rumrunners, gunrunners, alien smugglers and drug runners to hide out and/or lose their pursuers. Start your visit at the visitor center on the second floor. Exhibits here tell the story of the mangrove ecosystem, and a little about the history of the area (like the fact that it was here in 1941 that Harry Truman ...Read More

The Anhinga Trail: Photographer's Dream

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Story/Tip

Gator Crossing Road Photo, Everglades National Park, Florida
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Not far into Everglades National Park's southern entrance is a turnoff for the Royal Palm area. There are two great trails here. The first is the Gumbo Limbo trail, which takes you through a tropical hardwood forest. While still recovering from the devastating impact of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the trail is a great introduction to one of the Everglades upland habitats. The trees and plants here are very similar to what you'd find in the Caribbean: mahogany, strangler fig, tamarind, and of course, the trail's namesake, gumbo limbo. This tree is easy to recognize by its red, peeling bark, which reminds a lot of people of many of South Florida's sunburned visitors, and earns the tree the moniker "Touris...Read More