By: Manuela Caldas // Staff Writer
Only 45 minutes from FIU lies a complex, unique ecosystem – The Everglades. It’s home to multiple endangered species such as the American crocodile, Snail kite and the Florida Panther, as well as multiple different habitats.
Although it’s known as a protected wetland, it’s much more than a conserved piece of land, it’s an escape. Its silence and captivating scenery allows for a break from the stress of everyday life.
Experience some of what the Everglades has to offer with these five immersive experiences.
- Walk the trails
Everglades National Park has more than 16 different trails to choose from that immerse the visitor into different habitats. Looking to get lost in a jungle of gumbo limbo, maybe even spot a giant African snail? Take the gumbo limbo trail. Want to see a sea of grass and possibly find some barn owls under the observation deck? Then take the trail Pahayokee overlook.
With so much to see, walking and observing is the perfect place to start.
- Join a bike tour
These ranger led bike programs take you through some of the Everglades habitats, such as the pine rocklands and the hardwood hammocks. Not to mention they offer other bike tours including a full moon and meteor shower bike ride. The park gives visitors all of the required equipment, all they have to do is reserve a free spot online.
- Hop in a Kayak
The Everglades being a river of grass is a fantastic place for kayaking. If you are only visiting the south side of the park you can access the nine mile pond trail, famous for having a crocodile known as Godzilla. But, if you’re looking for more of a challenge there is the Hell’s bay trail known for being “hell to get into, hell to get out of,” due to the overgrowth of mangroves. However, the greatest challenge would be from the west entrance of the park at Everglades City. Stretching 99 miles is the Wilderness Waterway reaching the Florida Bay and the Flamingo entrance. There are chickees along the way to stay the night but make sure you plan your trip accordingly!
- Walk with a Ranger
Stroll the Anhinga trail with a ranger and try to spot some of the Everglades wildlife. While looking, listen as the ranger discusses the Everglades poster boys- alligators. Here you can also see wading birds, turtles and fishes.
- Slough Slog
On this Ranger guided tour, take a walk through the river of grass into a cypress dome. Depending on the time of the year it will be a shin deep walk or a hip high slog. The further you are into the dry season, which is the only time this tour is open, you experience less and less water. Regardless, this is one of the best ways to experience the Everglades as the ranger stops at many places and explains the flora and fauna to you. The tour of the cypress dome is also where Alligators make their home for the wet season!