If you are looking for a truly untouched sub-tropical wilderness without having to travel outside the continental United States, we have one not too far away in Southern Florida. The Everglades of Florida is certainly more than mosquitoes, alligators and dangerous snakes, and it is more than a huge swamp area. It is a giant and fragile ecosystem containing many forms of wildlife in their natural habitat.
Starting in 1848 there was talk of draining the Everglades, and some of the canals that were constructed in southern Florida helped in promoting the land boom in the first half of the 20th century. But Mother Nature in the form of floods and hurricanes proved too much. After studies on the environmental impact of a large airport found that the South Florida ecosystem would be destroyed, emphasis in the 1970s turned to restoration of the Everglades.
As of now, about 50% of the original Everglades have been converted to urban and agricultural areas. UNESCO has designated this area as wetlands of global importance; only two others in the world have a similar designation. Obviously much damage has already been done bring the entire area to the brink of breaking down, and since 2000 a plan for restoration was put into place by the U.S. Congress, but politics have played a part delaying the most comprehensive and expensive environmental reclamation attempt in history.
There is so much to do for the family in the Everglades, and if you’re in South Florida you should visit the Everglades National Park. Here is the place you will find unique and abundant wildlife that you will find only in a swampy habitat like this. After you visit the Ernest Coe Visitor Center, which offers orientation movies and exhibits to get your bearings, you’ll want to be sure to consider the following activities:
1. Airboat tours. This will not be the most peaceful way to tour the Everglades, but it is a lot of fun.
2. Canoeing in the Glades. The park has many water trails to canoe or kayak. Taking to the water will allow you to see much more of the parks wildlife, and these modes of transport will be the least intrusive way to do it.
3. Shark Valley Observation Tower. From hear if the weather is clear you can see for miles. It is about seven miles from the Shark Valley Visitor Center, and you can get there by hiking, bicycle or riding the tram.
4. Gumbo Limbo Trail. This half-mile walk is a paved path through a forest of primarily gumbo limbo trees.
5. Mahogany Hammock. A very interesting half-mile boardwalk through one of the Glades’ unique ecosystems.
6. Anhinga Trail. This is a paved trail a little less than a mile walk; this will take you through a sawgrass marsh.
7. Camping. If you’re into camping, there is a variety of camping options.
When you are in South Florida, try to take in this amazing natural area. You won’t find anything like it anywhere in the United States.