We couldn’t have left south Florida without at least taking a quick look at the Everglades. Just like the rest of our Florida adventures, the Everglades did not disappoint.
There is a long history of logging, draining, filling, and seemingly endless destruction throughout the entire southern region of the Florida. This area is home to some of the most scenic and sublime landscape anywhere. During the wrong part of the year (or day), the Everglades can be a tough place to enjoy with extreme heat, rampant mosquitoes, flooding, and drought. It is these extremes that bring out such beauty in a place.
We took Tamiami Trail (Highway 41) through Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. When the Tamiami Highway was built, it was considered a feat of engineering and connected Tampa to Naples then on to Miami. Nowadays, most traffic bypasses the scenic route for the faster interstate. Taking this little detour was one of the highlights of our road trip.
We found many great little pull offs, visitor centers, and roadside parks. In our quick little jaunt through the area, the favorite stop was at the Kirby Storter Roadside Park which featured a half-mile long boardwalk through a mature cypress swamp out to a great overlook.
Our little love affair for epiphytes, also known as air plants, was in full force in the Everglades. Even though it was clearly winter, these plants were thriving and were everywhere.
We passed tons of birds perched in the leafless canopy on our way to Key West, but they mostly seemed to be turned in for the night as the sun was going down on our way home. We spotted many egrets including this guy, while walking the boardwalk.
We knew we were well out of the Everglades when we hit the golf course developments and large farms. Who knows what was being sprayed as we passed by. It was yet another sign of what the everglades almost became if it had not been protected as a national park.
The Everglades hold so much beauty and diversity. It didn’t take long for both of us to start planning our next trip to the area to really see more of what lies just beyond the bend, something new to explore along with camping at the Dry Tortugas.