Don’t Forget the Bug Spray!

Mosquitoes. Lot’s and lot’s of mosquitoes. Yes Everglades National Park is known for having mosquitoes, but all the other amazing things we were able to see and do while we were there made it bearable. We stayed on the gulf side of the park as well as staying at the Long Pine Key campground within the park boundaries. I don’t usually need bug spray, but I did have to apply it several times while staying in the park campground (we went through two whole bottles). There are so many things to do in Everglades, even if you don’t have a boat. We saw a ton of wildlife, walked several trails, visited the Nike Missile Base, and attended a ranger talk one evening. Of course a trip to the Everglades wouldn’t be complete without renting a canoe and rowing down a mangrove lined canal.

We were all very excited to rent the canoe and row off down the canal. The rental rate was very reasonable and they were nice enough to let us rent one, even though they were only supposed seat four people. It took us a few minutes to get the hang of rowing and then it was easy. We took it slow so we could enjoy the peace and quiet of our surroundings. After we rowed down the canal quite a ways we decided to turn back so we could have some time to take it out in the bay, but before we were done in the canal we were able to spot some crocodiles! This was really cool because the Flamingo Visitor Center area is one of the only places to see crocodiles in Florida. We were glad we decided to take the canoe out in the bay even though it was pretty windy. Before we even got all the way out of the marina we saw a dolphin not to far from us, and then as we came back in after going around a small island, we had a dolphin swimming in with us. It was so close it swam right under the canoe at one point. It was very exciting, but nearly impossible to get a picture!

The abundance of wildlife we saw while visiting Everglades was incredible. Alligators, turtles, crocodiles, birds, dolphins, manatees, and lizards are the variety of species we observed. Everglades is often portrayed as being a swampy, dark, jungle with snakes and alligators everywhere. This is not exactly the reality. Everglades is a huge variety of plants and ecosystems all mingling together. It is a place for animals to thrive. We did see alligators, lot’s of alligators, but they are kind of lazy, especially during the day. They just lay there while people look at them, walk right past them, and speed by on their bicycles. It’s definitely not as dangerous as it is portrayed as long as you follow the rules. There are several species of turtles living in the park too and it was cool seeing them all swimming together. The plant life is also amazing because there are so many different types of trees. I was really surprised at the variety. We all learned something at the evening ranger talk which was about how Everglades has changed over time. It was a good thing they decided to protect it before the cities took over.

As parents we love our National Parks for their educational opportunities. It always amazes me how much we are able to learn from these wonderful places. The Junior Ranger Program has taught our children so much which is why we continue to participate in the program at every National Park we visit. I was surprised that for this park the Nike Missile Base Historic Area was not included for the program. We decided to take the tour at the request of our oldest son Miles. He loves history and learning about weapons so we knew it would keep his interest, but surprisingly even our four year old son Trip liked it. The tour guide did an awesome job of explaining and using visual aids to tell the story behind the base. It was truly informative and interesting and I would recommend checking it out if you are ever down that way.

Yes there are mosquito’s in Everglades National Park, but if you ever have the chance to visit this park then take it. Bring some bug spray. Then take a canoe ride, a hike or what ever you can manage. Just remember to bring along your camera because you will definitely have some photo opportunities!

Here is the link for Everglades National Park



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