Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our visit to Everglades National Park....part 1

Today was our last day in south Florida. We finished up our tour of the area by driving the few short miles to the Everglades National Park. Dogs are not allowed in any of the habitat areas or the visitor centers, so Annie had to stay behind in the RV with the A/C running to keep her comfy. We packed a picnic lunch and left home around 9:30. Good news....since Bruce is now 62 years old he was able to purchase the National Parks Dept. Senior Pass for $10.00. This will now enable us to get into many of the Parks Department run places, including all national parks for FREE! It is a lifetime pass. Lucky me for hanging around with such an old guy!

Although Everglades National Park is very large, there is really only 1 road on the eastern edge of the park available for vehicle traffic. By car you enter via the main gate and the Ernest Coe Visitor Center. If you have access to watercraft, you can enter by the Flamingo Visitor Center on Florida Bay. The auto road is 41 miles from park entrance to Flamingo.

There are many canoe trails in the park, but since we do not want to have a canoe they did not interest us. There are also a couple of primitive campgrounds in the park. If you are a birder, then this is your place as there are many different species of birds within the park. Many of them migrate elsewhere in the summer months.

Florida has been in a drought situation for quite some time and this is reflected within the Everglades Nat'l. Park too. We've been told that many places that usually have water are now dry. The glades are actually a giant, slow-flowing river that is 50 miles wide but averages only a few inches deep; the whole system is fed by Lake Okeechobee.

Our first stop in our tour took us to the Royal Palm center. From here you can take 2 trails; Anhinga Trail or the Gumbo Limbo Trail. We opted for the Anhinga Trail which is part asphalt and part boardwalk. It is a 1/2-mile loop trail. This loop trail meanders around the Taylor Slough. This slough goes from here and then south towards the coastline. Apparently the gators enjoy the habitat this slough provides for them. This was the best (and only) place for spotting alligators without going into some back country area by canoe. Right off the bat we spotted several big gators.

This is part of Taylor Slough and the asphalt trail alongside it.
Here is a really big alligator. He wasn't hiding and was easy to see.

This one was lying among the grasses that edge the pond.

This one is a little harder to see...but he is there in the center.

This was another one who appeared to be showing off for those of us watching him.

We spent about an hour here before we moved further on into the park. Look at parts 2, 3, 4,and 5 for more information and photos.......

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