After leaving the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, we drove over to US 41 and I had an idea for us to visit the Shark Valley Visitor Center. We showed my America the Beautiful Lifetime Senior Card for free entry to part of the Everglades Natonal Park.Everglades National Park Infomation
Although it varies from year to year, dry season is typically December through April and wet season lasts from May to November. Dry season is also the busy season because of the warm winters that attract the largest variety of wading birds and their predators. Wet season is rainy and can produce a lot of mosquitoes. Because of the reduced visitation during the rainy summer season, many ranger-led programs are not available, but other guided tour options remain available.
The Everglades spans across 1.5 million acres that stretches over the southern part of Florida, but it easy to access the park's three main areas. The northern section of the park is accessible via Miami or Everglades City; the southern section is accessible through Homestead.
Visiting the Everglades allows you to explore a vast diversity of flora and fauna in different eco-systems: freshwater sloughs, marl prairies, tropical hammocks, pinelands, cypress, mangrove, coastal lowlands, marine and estuarine. There is a lot of area to discover at the Everglades, so it is vital to be prepared.Our Visit
Here we walked into the Visitor Center.
An alligator on display at the Visitor Center. We paid for Tram Tour and then we walked the Bobcat Trail.
My first view of the Everglades. Now views from the Bobcat Trail.
Views of from the Bobcat Trail.
The first of many American Alligators that we would see, sunning himself along the tram return road. We went back to the Visitor Center and waited for our 1:00 PM tour. There was a very informative video which gave an excellent overview of the Everglades National Park. The naturalist then arrived and after a brief safety lecture, Elizabeth and I took the rear seats on the second car. We then headed out into the Everglades; a place that I had always wanted to see.Our Tram Tour
A sea of grasses with plenty of water. The Everglades freshwater marsh is a wide shallow slow moving river of grass, the iconic ecosytem of the park. Two major drainages, the board Shark River Slough and the narrow Taylor Slough are the main avenues for freshwater flow.
A White Pelican feeding in the water.
There are islands in the everglades with different kinds of Cypress trees on them. Cypress trees thrive in flooded conditions and forests often grow in the shape of a dome, with taller trees in the center of the dome or in a linear strand where trees growth follows the flow of the water. A long-lived deciduous wetland species, cypress can live as long as 600 years.
Another American Alligator hiding in the grasses.
Plant life thrives in the Everglades.
Those American Alligators are sunning themselves on this warm day.
A Little Blue Heron feeding in the grasses.
Water abounds everywhere and in the second picture, there is another Little Blue Heron.
Beauty is in eye of the beholder and there is plenty of it here.
Another American Alligator.
Here is an Alligator trail.
Water is the lifeline of the Everglades.
A White Pelican is standing in the grasses.
Water is the key to this environment.
A Great Blue Heron takes flight.
Water from Lake Okeechobee flows south to reach the park, or is diverted into canals that go to the major cities of southeast Florida.
Another White Pelican is feeding in the grasses.
Another island of trees.
A White Pelican takes flight.
This American Alligator is enjoying sunning himself.
This environment is very beautiful to me.
Another bird takes flight.
This tour is fully narrated by the park ranger and tram driver. You really learn a lot from both of these park naturalists.
White Pelicans abound on this tram tour.
A very wet environment indeed.
Various trees are seen in these pictures.
This is definitely an interesting and educational place.
These Tropical Hardwood Hammocks have a sinkhole with water in them where American Alligators and other animals hide during dry spells. These dense island forests grow on slightly elevated land and rarely flood. Temperate trees such as live oak, are out-numbered by tropical mahogay, gumo-limbo, mastic and others. Ferns and air plants thrive heare. Natural moates are hammocks help protect them from fire.
A Water Moccasin snake curled up in the grasses.
Hammocks and water creates this wet environment.
White Pelicans stand out among the grasses.
A White Pelican takes flight.
Open water for a host of species.
Another White Pelican standing in the grasses.
Open water for a species that abound here.
Hammocks are throughout this national park.
This American Alligator is out in the open and really enjoy the rays of the sun on his cold-blooded skin.
More Hammocks out in the park.
Our first distant view of the Observation Tower, our destination this early afternoon.
Research line poles for a study area.
More Hammocks along our route.
A Musk Turtle moving away from the road.
The Observation Tower is getting closer. It was announced we would be here for 30 minutes. Elizabeth and I led the way to the tower.
The path to the observation tower. We walked up the ramp and I started my photography from the top looking out.
The 360 degree view from the Observation Tower overlooking Everglades National Park.
There is a river below the Observation Tower on the south side.
There was a resident American Alligator living below the Observation Tower. We went back to the tram and I thanked both the driver and our Naturalist. They suggested that we walk the Burrow Pit Trail as far as the footbridge.
Scenes for the Burrow Pit Trail after the footbridge.
The Everglades Information Board. We reboarded the tram for the return to the Shark Valley Visitor Center.
Another American Alligator on our way back.
A Great Egret made an apperance on the tram tour.
Purple Gallinules were next on our route.
Interesting clouds to our east.
A Black Skimmer was seen next on our trip.
Two dating American Alligators.
A bird flying high above the Everglades.
A view to the east still heading back.
A look back from where we come.
The Wood Storks were seen next.
That was followed by another Great White Heron.
A Great Blue Heron makes another appearance on our tour.
A Wood Stork on top of the tree.
A walking Wood Stork.
More Great White Heron were seen.
An American Alligator mother.
A baby American Alligator, something Elizabeth had never seen and she was surprised how small it was.
White Ibis in this tree brought us to the end of our tram tour. We returned to the Visitor Center and went back to the car and then drove west down US 41 and took the road into Everglades City for a train station.
Atantic Coast Line Old Railroad Depot Historical board.
Atantic Coast Line Everglades City station built in 1927.
A Brown Pelican standing on a mooring. We drove to Port of the Island Resort where we checked in for the night and ate dinner in their Angler's Cove restaurant, then relaxed before getting a good night's sleep.
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