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I decided to share our brief visit to Everglades National Park as this area has several important sustainability and biodiversity aspects to it!  We had some time to kill one morning in Ft. Lauderdale before flying home and decided that a short, 4-hour excursion to the Everglades might be just the ticket!  The Everglades is a large National Park that takes up a substantial portion of southern Florida.  We knew there was no way we could cover the millions of acres that make up this sprawling wetland, but we thought we might as well go explore what we could since we had the opportunity.

The drive from Ft. Lauderdale to the Holiday Park portion of the Everglades is about 40 minutes.  Once you arrive, there’s a small restaurant and gift shop, as well as the more infamous airboat tours and gator show.dscn0204

Let me start by saying I wasn’t too sure what to think of the gator show.  I’ve become much more aware of animal exploitation in tourism recently and am trying to be more conscious of my support of these types of things.  The one thing that peaked my interest on this was the explanation that all of the alligators housed at Holiday Park are what they refer to as “nuisance gators”.  Basically, this means that these alligators have been found in cities, backyards, and other public areas, and if they had not been rescued by the team at Holiday Park, they would have been killed.  I like the option of them having a second chance at life and providing education to visitors, much better than I like the option of them being killed because they ended up in the wrong place, especially since humans are continually encroaching on their habitat.dscn0222Anyway, this gator show was educational and it was interesting to see Chris Gillette, star of Gator Boys on Animal Planet, interact with these incredibly powerful animals.  I would seriously never mess with an alligator as they are stronger than I imagined!  They provide lots of information on alligators and I feel I walked away knowing more about this species, their habitat, and the conservation and protection efforts of this team.  Afterward, there was an opportunity to pet a baby alligator and a python, but I chose not to participate in either of those activities.

The airboat rides throughout the Everglades was a very fun experience!  You don’t realize how big the Everglades are until you’ve spent an hour on the water and barely covered any substantial distance.  dscn3907The Everglades are a marshy, slow-moving river of grass, with water, reeds, trees, and wildlife spanning every direction, as far as the eye can see.  If you don’t know where you were going, it would be very easy to wind up disoriented and completely lost in the labyrinth of channels.  Even in the short distance we covered, it’s easy to see why this area is so important and special.  The eco-system provides a huge amount of biodiversity!  The Everglades are home not only to alligators and crocodiles, but to other animals like iguanas, turtles, and the endangered manatees, multiple bird species, fish, plants, and so much more!

It was so cool to see the patches of lily pads stand upright immediately after an airboat had just skimmed over the top of them.  And, there’s nothing quite as cool as seeing something in the water up ahead and realizing it is the eyes of a wild alligator just above the surface as it makes its way across the water.

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Unfortunately, because of the demands and continued urban sprawl in cities like Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, and other environmental factors, the natural resources of the Everglades are being tapped more and more, and some of the species and their habitat here are threatened. Fortunately, because it is a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site among other things, there are protections in place, as well as opportunities to get involved with a variety of group’s efforts in protecting this site.  We are glad we took the time to get a glimpse of this treasured area and learn more about it!

What a few tips to reduce your environmental impact on a trip like this?

  • Add on this type of side trip or outing while you’re already in an area instead of planning an entirely separate trip to see one thing!
  • Take the bus or other form of public transportation instead of renting a car!

We are so excited to be able to add the Florida Everglades to the list of National Parks we’ve been fortunate enough to visit.  To read about our other National Park posts, please click the links below:

Yellowstone National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

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19 Comments

  1. So informative thanks for sharing!
    It’s so lovely that you know that the aligators you saw wouldn’t be alive if they weren’t taken to that place. Makes it nicer to know they aren’t there instead or somewhere better! Sounds like a place I need to put on my list!

  2. I have heard of the Everglades but didn’t really know much about them until now! This is a really informative and educational post and I love the vision you gave me of the lilypads springing back up again after the airboat had passed over them – brilliant. I also appreciate your honesty and thoughts on the gator’s as it’s always a difficult subject but I also prefer the fact that these gator’s are still alive instead of being killed. Loving your sustainable posts, keep them up 🙂

  3. The Everglades are amazing with its biodiversity. Liked how you pointed out that the cities are taking away the natural resources of the Everglades which are being trapped and species habitats are being threatened. Great that it is an UNESCO site to protect the land. How amazing to experience this and thanks for sharing 🙂 I have not been there yet but will have to take an air-boat ride to see this biodiversity.

  4. The Everglades are a wonderful journey. Living in Florida most of my life I watched how it has changed over the many years. Gators can be a pesky problem, nothing more scary than to see one in your swimming pool. Nice post thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. The Everglades are one of those places I really want to see. I hope the rich biodiversity is well protected so future generations don’t miss out on this beautiful part of the world. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks Jennifer for a very informative post about The Everglades. We heard about it before but didn’t really know what to expect. Your post is very informative and full of useful information. We like how you focus on being sustainable while travelling. We made few mistakes in our youth and we now make sure to consider this idea when we are travelling. We recently decided to avoid snorkelling with whale sharks in Cebu, in the Philippines as the mammals are fed and kept in nets. Instead we chose to go to Donsol where we were swam with whale sharks in their natural environment! We are taking a year off in 2017 and plan to spend at least 6 months in South America! We cannot wait! Keep up the great work on your blog! Where are you and Darin travelling next?
    Patrick and Cécile from http://www.travel4lifeblog.com

    1. Thanks for stopping by and subscribing!! I do one post a month that’s part of my sustainable Sunday series. It’s amazing what little changes you can make in your travels that are helpful for the environment, much like you did with swimming with whale sharks! We have a few small trips planned in January, but our next big trip is in March to Italy!!

  7. The Everglades and Florida for that matter is another place on our list! We really want to do a road trip one day around the county. I’m all for education when it comes to animals, so thanks for sharing that about the alligators, really interesting. Great pics too, video’s a bit scary!

  8. I think the everglades would be a really cool spot to visit, since I’ve seen countless shots of them on TV. I like that there was a purpose behind relocating the alligators to the Holiday Park, at least it saves them in a sense. I bet the airboat was a lot of fun too. Neat!

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