As one of the larger national parks in the lower United States, Everglades National Park includes 1.5 million acres of tropical wilderness wonder. It is also home to scarce wildlife such as the manatee, the American crocodile, and Florida panther. I’ve was always been curious about this incredible park. Especially when we take a road trips across Alligator Alley in South Florida. So, we grabbed the cameras and waters and jumped into the car and made our way south to take a mystical journey through Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve!

Everglades The Park

The Florida Everglades have always been a little bit mysterious in many people’s eyes. Because together with its unknowns and unchartered open wilderness, this park lured both wildlife and early settlers to the area. The peoples most familiar with the territory early on, are American Indians; the Calusa and Tequesta and later the Seminole and Miccosukee. This was home to them.

A Mystical Journey Through Everglades And Big Cypress
A Mystical Journey Through Everglades And Big Cypress

During the early years (1800s – 1900s) many thought this land was a worthless swamp, because of the vast amount of wetlands and swamp territories. However, it didn’t take too long for them to learn how precious this wetland region is. Everglades National Park was established in 1947 after several developments caused what is now the park, to dry up. However, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is now working to create the historic flow of water as it was in the past. These efforts are showing results with several birds and wildlife returning to their nests.

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National Park Visitor Centers

The survival of this park depends upon minimal human interference because currently the park is in a very natural state. Even the welcome center at the Gulf Coast entrance is just a small trailer as well as a dock. There is also a small parking area with minimal black top and mostly dirt roadway. The restrooms are simply mobile small trailers.  We certainly enjoy experiencing parks that are very remote and little to no development.

Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Visitor Center
Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Visitor Center

There are a couple of other entrances and visitor centers at Everglades including Shark Valley Visitor Center and Flamingo Visitor center. These are located closer towards the greater Miami Area. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center offers a boat tour among the 10,000 islands region of the park. Of course, there are several other local air boat tours, kayak and canoe rentals, and adventure excursions.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve Boardwalk
Big Cypress National Preserve Boardwalk

To say the least, we’ve only just tapped the surface of Everglades National Park, as we plan to continue our exploration further southeast deeper into the park at a later time on another visit. Meanwhile, another amazing nature park is at nearby Big Cypress National Preserve. Which is located adjacent to Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and Picayune Strand State Forest.

Alligator at Big Cypress Boardwalk
Alligator napping at Big Cypress National Preserve Boardwalk

We begin our venture with a friendly welcome by a napping alligator right near the dirt parking areas here. We gander at him for a while and take a few photos quietly. Then we proceed to the Big Cypress Boardwalk which is a point of interest stop directly off of U.S. Route 41/Tamiami Trail.

Tamiami Trail History

The concept for the Tamiami Trail (aka US 41) began in the early 1900s. After several designations and sections added, US 41 is coming to fruition. In the 1950s, the newly configured US 41 was extended eastward and northward. First to downtown Miami along US 1 in 1950, then to Miami Beach along US 1 and SR A1A in 1953. While US 41 and SR 90 have not significantly changed since the 1960s, because its importance to travelers of southeastern Florida has changed since the opening of Alligator Alley to the north in 1968. Which is why there has been some easing of traffic outside of urban regions as these areas still deal with congestion to this day mainly in particular areas.

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The Boardwalk * A Journey Through Everglades andd Big Cypress

The plant and animal life are pretty amazing here. It’s amazing because you will find so many unique plant life. For example, here are two trees growing into each other; one of them is wrapped around the other. It is quite interesting to see. The variety of trees and plants is quite vast here and the wildlife enjoy it as well. As you slowly peruse along the boardwalk, you will notice how very peaceful and quiet it is. Don’t plan on doing a lot of talking on your phone, because cell phone service is limited or none throughout much of this remote park.

Big Cypress and Everglades The Environmental Wonder

This park is truly extraordinary in ways that you may not be aware of. You ask the question, ‘why care about a swamp?’ Well, it is very simple. Because water is the key. Fresh water is the most vital thing to all of us and much of the life on earth. Which is what makes the state of Florida so critical to the livelihoods of all residents as well as our environment all around. The ecosystem that makes up the Everglades region is extraordinary!

Marsh Trail at Big Cypress National Preserve
Marsh Trail at Big Cypress National Preserve

Endangered Species

Big Cypress National Preserve is created for one primary reason in 1974. It is to protect the fresh water’s natural flow from the Big Cypress Swam into the Everglades. Water, as well as wild life and plant life, are critical to this environmental ecosystem. There are however, a few animals that are on the endangered species list including the Florida panther.

Big Cypress National Preserve saw grass prairie
Big Cypress National Preserve saw grass prairie

Pythons * A Mystical Journey Through Everglades And Big Cypress

It is extremely rare to see a panther as the park information displays explain and include reminders to keep an eye out if you do happen to see one. Burmese pythons are another species that have been affecting the ecosystem here. Because they could no longer could control their snakes, python owners released them. Many escaped from properties damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Info sign at Big Cypress, FL.
Information Display at Big Cypress National Preserve Visitor Center

Well, by now I hope I haven’t scared you away from exploring this extraordinary park. In addition to all the natural highlights here, there are also several fun things to do! Take a journey out on a swamp walk or hiking trail because it is filled with air plants living on trees, mangroves, and saw palmetto plants just about everywhere.

You may also want to take in a peaceful kayak ride or a canoe through mangroves. A bike ride will no doubt be exhilarating on the wilderness trails and beyond! Camping is also available, and the air boat rides are a blast!


Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve make up part of the 400 parks in the national park system. They are both unique because they each play a critical role in the overall diversity in the Everglades swamp ecosystem.  You will find amazing adventure, endless exploration, and new discoveries that you never thought possible! I find the Everglades somewhat mysterious and a little eerie. You will definitely leave with a new appreciation for water.

More Information:

Everglades National Park
40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034

Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center
33000 Tamiami Trail East
Ochopee, FL 34141

Oasis Visitor Center
52105 Tamiami Trail East
Ochopee, FL 34141

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  1. Such a unique ecosystem! Let’s hope that we can keep wild places like this for future generations.

    1. Yes it certainly is so unique and amazing! And I think the people who live in these parts will do their best to keep it wild since they had an impact and kept what was supposed to be the world’s largest jet airport from being developed in the 1960s.

  2. I’d love to see the panther (I’m a sucker for big cats!), but I think I’ll pass on the python 😉 Love the pictures, and hope to be able to visit someday!

    1. I know! We were definitely looking and hoping we would see one out there. I love big cats too! We would have liked to see a python too since they are sort of a problem down here with are quite populated in the area. They’ve even found some as far north as Orlando. Thanks so much for reading, and it’s one amazing park that’s for sure!

  3. I can’t believe in the 11 years I lived in Florida that I never visited the Everglades. I must visit someday.

    1. I know! We lived here on and off over the years, and never took the time to go south for a visit. But we changed that this time. We are planning to return to Everglades and go further in the park via airboat ride, and do more hiking trails as well. It is quite impressive nature and beauty!

  4. We passed through the Everglades last year but didn’t have time for Big Cypress. Of course we were fascinated (and completely shocked) that there were panthers. We kept our eyes pealed but didn’t realize how rare they are. It was a fun adventure! Definitely need to go back!

    1. That is awesome! Big Cypress area is quite beautiful too! Yes, we were kind a hoping to run into a panther,but no such luck. It is amazing how rare they are. 🙂

  5. I’d love to visit The Everglades and Big Cypress. I can’t believe there are panthers, it would be incredible to spot one.

    1. And to think there are crocs here too. I never knew that, and when I learned this, I totally thought of Australia and you! 🙂 It would have been incredible to see a panther, but we did not. Maybe next time..

  6. No not scared at all, in fact, all the more keener to get here for a visit one day. Thank you I have enjoyed my wander with you today!

    1. Aww, that’s great! It is quite remote here, And kinda limited lodging,.. but I think this park may get a lot of day trippers, not necessarily long stays. You can come and wander with me any day all day anytime my friend! And it is thrilling really, because you don’t know what animals or activity you might encounter! 🙂

  7. Thanks for highlighting the Everglades in the blog. It’s such an incredible park. This slow moving river is such a critical component of the Southern Florida environment. It’s beauty is truly hidden from view for most visitors.

    1. Exactly! We spent most of the day in the area near Naples – and Big Cypress is pretty awesome too. We hope to dig further, and take a kayak ride and explore further in from the Miami area side of the park. 🙂 It is truly a hidden gem.

  8. I think it is so important to preserve these natural ecosystems. That is a great question: “Why care about a swamp?” I agree completely: it is an integral part of our planet and the natural habitat for so many creatures and plants. I have visited the Everglades and loved it. I would love to return and explore Big Cypress too.

    1. It is truly a remarkable place of nature! I was fascinated to learn how truly important a simple swamp could be in our world. And Big Cypress is ‘Amazing’! I too, look forward to return visit to see more!

  9. Snappers and snakes aside, this looks like a wonderful place to get away from it all. I was interested in the spiritual and mystical elements you brought out, and the peacefulness of the place – not something I would have thought of. The one thing that would worry me is mozzies, I tend to attract them – and I would guess this is a perfect place for them to multiply and hatch. Did you encounter any insect issues?

    1. You mention really good points in your comment here Carole. I guess I learned to respect the swamp animals, snakes, gators,..etc. But the mosquitos – mozzies can be a nuisance. We try to visit these parks during the hours/days where these insects are not as prominent. They tend to hide during the hot sunny part of the day. But, the late afternoon/early evening they seem to all come out. Also, its seems the time of year matters also- winter time when its cooler and dryer outside, the insects seem to hide or hibernate. 🙂

  10. This looks quite amazing. I didn’t have a chance to check out the Everglades during my last visit to Florida, but I’ll definitely explore them the next time. Also, I hadn’t heard of the Big Cypress National Preserve before, but it looks pretty cool, too. I’ll add it to my list;)

    1. It really is an extraordinary park – and Big Cypress is really close by. The entire area is full of awesome nature and beauty!