Some swamps are just meant to be swamps. Such is the case with the Everglades. Last week we hitched up our Viking trailer and explored the wilds of South Florida. Herb, Buddy, (our beagle) and I camped at Collier-Seminole State Park, located south of Naples and west of Everglades National Park. In this post I want to give a brief review of the places we visited.
I have to say this was the least scenic campsite we’ve ever encountered. It rained for several days before we arrived. I laughed and referred to our site as “lakefront property.” Luckily it didn’t rain anymore during our four night stay. The pond dried by our last day. Herb and I decided to take the campsite and the mosquitos in stride. After all, the park lies within one of the largest mangrove swamps in the world.
In all fairness, Collier-Seminole is scenic. The park contains one of three original stands of royal palms in Florida. I snapped this photo on the pet friendly Royal Palm Hammock Trail. Buddy enjoyed all the sights, sounds, and smells along the one mile path through the jungle.
I highly recommend renting a canoe and paddling the Blackwater River. The tidal river system hosts a variety of birds and other wildlife.
Everglades National Park
It’s about an hour drive to the Shark Valley Visitor Center from Collier-Seminole. We arrived late in the afternoon, only to learn that Buddy was not permitted anywhere but the parking lot. Alligators love little dogs!
A visit to Everglades National Park never disappoints. In the span of twenty minutes, Herb encountered and photographed many animals. Here are a few images he snapped with with his Nikon telescopic camera.
Water is the lifeblood of the Everglades. Today the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is working to restore the natural flow of water to this area. The results are encouraging and the wildlife is returning.
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
In between Collier-Seminole and Everglades National Park lies 85,000 acres of wetland wilderness. We walked the Big Cypress Bend boardwalk with Buddy. We kept a close eye out for gators and stayed ready to pick up our pet at a moment’s notice. The 2300 foot long boardwalk is sheltered by bald cypress trees, many of them hundreds of years old.
We were told an eagle nest existed somewhere along the boardwalk. I became so interested in looking up, I forgot to look look down.
I almost missed this big guy who was not far from where I was standing. So much for staying alert.
After our walk on the boardwalk we drove Jane’s Scenic Drive through miles of wilderness. I could still see parts of the swamp from the comfort of an air conditioned vehicle. I felt happy and safe.
The landscape of the Everglades is like no other. It is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. A place teeming with life which depends on the delicate balance of nature. From the tiny mosquito to the Florida panther, all sizes of animals coexist in this wonderful place.