The Everglades is well known as Florida’s subtropical wilderness, yet, other than the name and general location, it remains a mystery to most. It’s a complex puzzle with many odd-shaped parts, but its fragile simplicity fits precisely into one complete natural environment. For anyone interested in the Everglades, it is well worth the visit. It’s really one of Florida’s best-kept secrets.
Great Blue Heron
Our recommendation when it comes to understanding and becoming intimate with the Everglades begins with a visit to the Everglades National Park located southwest of Miami and Homestead.
There are actually nine distinct ecosystems that comprise the Everglades. From hardwood hammocks to coral reefs, the area supports the biodiversity of its habitats found nowhere else on the planet. The Everglades, often called the “Glades,” includes a vast area, once covering almost the entire southern Florida peninsula starting at the Kissimmee River, flowing into Lake Okeechobee and spreading out in a mosaic of habitats from coast to coast. In 1947, a wilderness portion of the system at the southern tip was set aside as Everglades National Park. Since then several adjacent conservation areas and new parks have been set aside and protected by the state as well.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Florida’s legendary conservationist and author, called it the “River of Grass” and redefined its reputation from “worthless” muddy lowland to a precious slow-moving body of water. Some think of it as an impenetrable swamp, a vast forest of cypress trees, and home to the Florida panther.