Few places in America are as exotic as Florida's Everglades National Park. Despite popular belief, it is not simply an oversized swamp. Rather, it's a mishmash of swamp and marshlands, forests and a hardwood jungle. It's home to the American alligator and to hundreds of other species that are rarely, if ever, seen elsewhere. Snakes, birds, alligators, panthers, and mosquitos flourish in the wetlands and backcountry of this great American wilderness.
The Park is composed of 1.5 million acres of mostly wetlands with more than 1000 different types of plants and 126 species of trees. Even endangered species, such as the American crocodile, the manatee, and the Florida panther, thrive here. Of the 300 avian species, seven are on the endangered list. For many, this Park is the last resort for survival.
The face of the Everglades is constantly changing, depending on weather and water. During the summertime, it's a grassy river; and in winter, it transforms into marshy grassland. The area is composed of different ecosystems. Florida Bay, a marine environment comprising 800 square miles of the Park, is made up of mostly sea grass. Mangroves and coastal prairies are also found. There are cypress, pine and hardwood forests. The massive and varied ecosystems provide habitats for thousands of wildlife forms that have thrived and flourished for millions of years in America's last wilderness.
Watersports rule here. Boating, canoeing and kayaking serve as a way to see the area. Biking is also popular. Fishing is the main sport. Catching the big tarpon is often a goal, but casting a line into one of the many rivers for bass is fun too. Numerous trails stroll past the inhabitants ? the great blue heron, orchids and ferns, royal palms, hawks and hundreds of butterflies just to name a few. The 99-mile Wilderness Waterway from Everglades City to Flamingo is an excellent route to follow to explore the various ecosystems and habitats of the area.
Everglades National Park is 50 miles south of Miami.