We know very little about the ancient people that once inhabited Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida. Scant evidence reveals a culture known as the Calusa, who first ventured into this vast swamp over 4,500 years ago. In this sea of grass, they found a wetlands cornucopia, feasting on large amounts of fish, deer, shellfish, reptiles, plums, berries and more. First contact with European explorers led to conflict and disease. By the 1800s, the remaining Calusa were absorbed into the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes. Today, archaeologists continue to roam this unique environment, looking for clues of a lost culture. Photo by National Park Service.
One of the best things about getting outdoors is seeing wildlife. We can admire their uniqueness and imagine their lives. How high can a bluebird fly? Do deer get sad in the rain? What do alligators eat? How nervous is that turtle right now? These are the questions we ask ourselves on World Animal Day. Discover more fascinating wildlife stories at Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of Mickey Foster, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service volunteer.
A brilliant sunset casts color and light over pinelands and grasslands in Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. This Florida park is a subtle place where earth, water and sky blend in a low green landscape – where mere inches of elevation produce distinct changes in vegetation and a great wealth of birds and other unique wildlife find refuge. One of the most environmentally significant regions in the world, Everglades National Park can also impress with its sublime beauty. Photo by Vineesh Agrawal (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Take a moment to relax and enjoy this gorgeous tie-dye sunrise at Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge. This delightful refuge is a place to experience warm air, gentle waves, soft bird calls and miniature deer slowly prancing by you. The refuge was established to protect Key deer and other wildlife in the Florida Keys and includes pine rockland forests, tropical hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, salt marsh wetlands, mangrove forests and absolutely stunning views. Photo courtesy of refuge volunteer Mickey Foster.
Come for the sunrise and stay for the wildlife at Big Cypress National Preserve. The park is home to many mammals, birds and reptiles that are exciting to observe in their natural habitat. If you know where to look, it’s easy to spot Florida’s largest reptile: the American alligator. Photo by National Park Service.
Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge in Florida is a haven for great white herons, migratory birds and other fascinating wildlife. The refuge consists of almost 200,000 acres of open water and scattered islands, and is known in the Keys as the “backcountry.” The refuge provides critical nesting, feeding and resting areas for hundreds of species of birds and sea turtles. The beaches, mangroves and sparkling blue water are favorites for the visitors who explore this beautiful and fragile place. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The sun sinks behind the horizon, coloring the sky a bright orange before night falls in South Florida. Big Cypress National Preserve protects 729,000 acres of unique freshwater swamp, offering refuge to a wide variety of plants and animals. From hardwood hammocks hiding rare Florida panthers to tidal estuaries teeming with birds and fish, there is so much to see in this wonderful place. Photo by National Park Service.
Golden sunrise light streams through the pinelands at Everglades National Park in Florida. Across the park’s 1.5 million acres, thick forests transition to wide wetlands and coastal lowlands; each distinct ecosystem dependent on water conditions and a few inches of elevation. On your next adventure, explore these different lands and waters in search of your perfect Everglades moment. Photo courtesy of Andrew R. Slaton.
Want to escape the winter cold? South Florida offers some amazing public lands getaways. Don’t miss sunrise at Big Cypress National Preserve. The orange light shimmers on the wetlands as a terrific variety of wildlife greets the morning. You’ll forget all about the snow at home. Photo by National Park Service.
On this day in 1947, Everglades National Park was established, protecting one of the largest wetlands in the world. Seventy years later, it remains an international treasure attracting visitors from all over who come to see the park’s mangroves, River of Grass, and unique array of plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet. As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of this south Florida park, test your knowledge with 10 interesting facts about the Everglades: https://on.doi.gov/2j0PyMd
Photo by James Pion (www.sharetheexperience.org).