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100 Extraordinary Facts About the Florida Everglades

Extraordinary Fun Facts About the Florida Everglades

It is relatively easy to find extraordinary fun facts about the Florida Everglades. This one-of-a-kind ecosystem cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the world. The value to Floridians cannot be overstated.

As early as the late 1800s we began to understand the ecological significance of “The River of Grass”, the Everglades. An author by the name of Marjory Stoneman Douglas released her first book titled The Everglades: River of GrassThe title caught on and so did our awareness of this wild, wonderful back country.

Map of the Florida Everglades

Map of the Everglades - extraordinary fun facts about the everglades
Map of the Everglades region contains over 2 million acres.

The green area of the map of the Everglades shows the extent of runoff of three rivers from central Florida.

Any and all of these lands are affected by what we call the Everglades. The underlying water movers at a pace of one-half mile per hour.

The significance of the aquifer surrounding these wetlands cannot be underestimated. The water gives life to the plants, trees, and wildlife for 100 miles south.

Can you drive through the Everglades?

You can drive through the Everglades in a number of ways. If you look at the map, you will see two main routes running east and west through much of the Florida Everglades. These are the quickest ways to cross the Florida Everglades, but not necessarily the best way.

Route 41 and The Tamiami Trail through the Everglades

By far, our favorite way to drive through the Florida Everglades is the Tamiami Trail. Of course, Interstate 75 from Naples to Miami can take you across the Everglades quicker, but do you really want to miss all the sights in this biodiverse wetland?

Our comparison of The Alligator Alley vs. Tamiami Trail can explain the differences. These are some fun facts about the Everglades.

How Big Are The Florida Everglades?

100 extraordinary fun facts about the Florida everglades
These pockets of water are throughout the river of grass. They are places for fish, wildlife, and plants to grow and reproduce.

The easy answer is the Everglades covers several million acres in south Florida. However, this answer is simplifying the breadth and scope of the “River of Grass”.

The Everglades actually start from the run-off of three rivers in central Florida. These rivers flow into Lake Okeechobee and eventually through the grasslands to form an ecosystem that empties into Florida Bay along the southernmost part of Florida.

To put a number on the question “How Big are the Florida Everglades”, the current thinking is the Everglades are about 40 miles wide and 100 miles long encompassing more than 2.5 million acres. For more details, this government publication may be helpful.

How to avoid alligators in the Everglades?

The quick answer is to stay away from their habitat. Marshes, swamps, banks of sloughs, river banks, and freshwater lakes in the Everglades all have alligators.

However, most people want to see alligators. They are rarely harmful to adults unless surprised or defending their offspring.

Alligators can easily be seen from roadways and parks along the major highways in the Everglades. Worry more about the “swamp angels” than the alligators in the Florida Everglades.

Are there crocodiles in the Florida Everglades?

Yes, there are crocodiles in the Florida Everglades. Crocodiles prefer saltwater, so most sightings come from southern portions of Florida near Florida Bay. Their numbers are very small.

The Everglades is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators coexist. This is one of the best extraordinary fun facts about the Florida Everglades.

Are there panthers in the Everglades?

Facts about the Florida Everglades Florida panther
This is a rare shot of a Florida panther. They are on the endangered species list and rarely observed in the Everglades.

Yes, there is the Florida Panther. The Florida panther is a sub-species of the western puma. Unfortunately, the Florida panther is an endangered animal. Current estimates suggest there are less than 500 panthers left in the wild.

If you are fortunate enough to spot a panther, you have done something that millions of visitors to the Florida Everglades have never done.

Are there pythons in the Everglades in Florida?

By now most people have heard about the Burmese pythons roaming the deep Everglades.

While it is true, the chances of encountering a python are very remote. There are no known deaths from python attacks on visitors to the Everglades. A python can bite and leave some soreness, but they are not poisonous. It would be unusual for a visitor to see a python.

The python is an evasive species that is very harmful to the Everglades. They grow to 16 feet or more and feed on small animals. rabbits, raccoons, and opossums are disappearing. Florida has put a bounty on Everglades pythons.

What is Everglades National Park?

Everglades National park boardwalk
There are boardwalks like this one in Everglades National park throughout the Everglades.

The Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States. The park has over 1.5 million acres in three different counties (Dade, Monroe, Collier) on Florida’s southern Gulf coast. The park offers the best experience for learning, observing, and photographing this wonderful preserve.

What animals are in the Everglades?

There are over 120 species of animals in the Everglades. Plus about 300 species of fish. In addition, there are countless numbers of insects.

Wild boar, black bears, otters, turtles, deer, and various snakes populate the Everglades along with the ones previously mentioned.

What plants are in the Florida Everglades?

One of the wonders of this ecosystem called the Everglades are the varieties of plant life. There are literally hundreds of different types of plants throughout the Everglades. Many only exist in the Everglades in the northern hemisphere.

100 facts about the Florida Everglades Flamingo's
These Flamingos were along the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades.

What birds are in the Everglades?

The National Audubon Society says there are over 400 species of birds in the Everglades. Our experience seems to indicate that to easily be true. It seems every trip we see another bird we have never seen before. There are over 360 species sighted in the Everglades National Park alone.

Do people live in the Florida Everglades?

It is pretty clear people have lived in the Everglades for thousands of years. They were Native Americans, Spanish explorers, runaway slaves, and traders who made the Everglades home. Admittedly, the populations were small and scattered mainly near freshwater sources.

Life in the Everglades was and is harsh. The heat wants to exhaust you. Animals want to make you prey. Insects want to feed on you and the swamps want to devour you.

Despite the hardships, the Everglades were perfect for hunters, fishermen and woodsmen. Man seems to find a way to overcome challenges.

Today, Everglades City and Chokoloskee are examples of communities that have found ways to live in the ’glades.

Seminoles -100 extraordinary facts about the eveglades
This was taken circa 1900. A Seminole family meal in the heart of the Everglades. Many Native Americans still eke out a living in this wilderness.

Scattered in other parts of the Everglades are remnants of the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes. Their ancestors escaped to the Everglades from persecution and relocation. Villages dot the backroads of the Everglades. These Native Americans found safety in the torrid conditions of the wilderness.

When, in the 1840s, soldiers tried to find the escapees from relocation in the Everglades, one surgeon attached to a brigade wrote this description of the Everglades, “It is in fact a most hideous region to live in, a perfect paradise for Indians, alligators, serpents, frogs, and every other kind of loathsome reptile.”

Of all the extraordinary fun facts about the Florida Everglades, the harshness of life hasn’t changed much. The weather, animals, water, and extreme conditions are still a challenge to residents.

Where is Everglades City?

100 extra ordinary facts about the Florida everglades - Museum
The Everglades Museum is in Everglades City.

Everglades City is about 35 miles southeast of Naples, Florida. The only road in or out of Everglades City is state route 29 which runs north to south crossing the Tamiami Trail about 30 miles east of Naples.

Many residents of Everglades City are engaged in, or supporting the fishing and crabbing industry. The town produces a significant amount of stone crabs served to Florida residents.

While there have been some important renovations around Everglades City in recent years, the area has struggled to grow in the Everglades environment. The population has varied little in the last 50 years.

Why are the Everglades so important?

One key reason the Everglades are so important is the ecosystem is the source of water for 8 million Florida residents. That is, one in every three people in Florida depends on the Everglades daily.

Another reason the Everglades are important is the wilderness, bays, and rivers provide a breeding ground for thousands of species of fish, mammals and birds. Without the couple million acres of protection, our environment and food supply would suffer.

Man has built up many areas in south Florida. Without the benefit of the Everglades’ drainage, many cities, towns, and farms would be flooded each year during the rainy season.

If for no other reason, the Everglades is one of the most unique wilderness destinations in the world. The beauty and sustenance system of life abound in the Everglades.

What are things to do in the Everglades?

Everglades airboat ride things to do
An airboat ride can take you deep into mangrove-lined pathways used by alligators and their prey.

Our list of popular things to do in the Florida Everglades.

  • Perhaps the most popular of the things to do in the Everglades is an airboat tour. Numerous operators offer tours along both Alligator Alley and the Tamiami Trail. Different experiences are offered including alligator watching and full-speed runs through the mangroves and grass flats.

Most airboat companies explain the history and importance of the Everglades ecosystem.

  • Many people visiting the Everglades are fascinated with alligators. They go to the various rest areas along the major roads to watch, photograph and study these prehistoric creatures. This guide to Alligator Alley will give you the rest area locations. The Tamiami Trail also has some state-built areas that attract alligators.
  • Along the Tamiami Trail, you will find these stops many visitors find interesting;
    Facts about the Florida Everglades _ Clyde Butcher Galleries
    In the middle of the Everglades, Clyde Butcher Galleries offers some one-of-a-kind photography. Well worth a stop.
    • Clyde Butcher Galleries – Clyde is the foremost known artist of the Everglades. His gallery is a perfect place to view his amazing work. The gallery also has a boardwalk extending into the Everglades for viewing the sights and sounds of the swampy wetlands.
    • Skunk Ape Headquarters – yes, there are reported sightings of an ape-like creature that has the smell of a skunk. Visit this Everglades novelty.
    • The Smallest Post Office – there aren’t many people living in the Everglades and need for mail is limited. The USPS has a post office about the size of a double-wide phone booth. Great for pictures.
    • Wooten’s Airboat Tours – Wooten’s is our favorite airboat tour operator. This family-owned company has been in the Everglades for generations.
  • Hiking The Everglades – there are many hiking trails and a few boardwalks extending well into the swampy wilderness. This growing trend is perfect to see how the Everglades have evolved.
  • Camping – There aren’t many hotel rooms in the Everglades, but there are numerous places to camp. Camping is available in Everglades National Park, Big Cypress Preserve and all the way south to Flamingo at the tip of mainland Florida. Research your preferences for camping and don’t assume availability.

Want to visit a real swamp in the Florida Everglades?

100 extraordinary facts about the Florida Everglades - swamps
This is what much of the Everglades looks like deep into the vegetation. You can see why alligators flourish in these conditions.

There is a special road in the Everglades that you can travel to visit a real swamp in the Everglades. Near mile marker 59 on the Tamiami Trail (route 41) is an intersection of a poorly marked road called Loop Road. This 25 mile stretch of mainly gravel and dust takes you through some of the off the beaten path terrain offered in this diverse, wonderful ecosystem.

A word of caution is explained in our complete narrative about Loop Road. You can visit the harshness of the swamp with leaving your car. Alligators may cross your path, birds of prey wait in the trees, the swamp on both sides of the road is filled with life and fish you may never have seen before swimming in the sloughs.

100 Facts About the Florida Everglades - alligator
This is a common scene along Loop Road. This photograph was taken safely from the car on the road.

Near the eastern reaches of Loop Road are the residences of Native Americans who still live in the Everglades. A few scattered homes of other Everglades inhabitants are on either side of the road.

Fishing the Florida Everglades

We are asked about fishing in the Florida Everglades on occasion. Answering that question is very difficult due to the diversity of the water.

On the Gulf coast, you have the Ten Thousand Islands that run for miles along the southwest Florida shoreline. Here you have saltwater and a brackish mixture of saltwater and freshwater.

100 extraordinary facts about the Florida Everglades
This redfish is a common catch when you charter a knowledgeable charter fishing captain in the Ten Thousand Islands.

Fishing in the Ten Thousand islands is phenomenal. Our excursions have produced spotted trout, redfish, tarpon, snook, and an occasional shark feeding at the rivers’ mouths. The numbers of fish and size are exceptional. Chartering a local fishing captain from Marco Island, Everglades City or Chokoloskee is the best way to fish the islands.

In South Florida, there is Florida Bay stretching from Florida City to the bend at the southern end of the Ten Thousand Islands. This remote fishing is a fantastic adventure that includes the species above but also includes many fish considered to be “offshore species” that spawn in the shallower water of Florida Bay. The fishing is as diverse as it gets in Florida.

We can’t forget the freshwater species in the lakes formed in the interior of the Everglades. Everything from bluegill, specs, bass and other unique fish of the Everglades are available. Again, we recommend a guide to assure success for the visiting fisherman.

Where to stay in the Florida Everglades?

The places to stay are very few in the Everglades. While there are a couple of hotels and motels in Everglades City, there aren’t many other choices within the boundaries of the Everglades.

Where to stay near the Everglades in Florida?

There are metropolitan areas at both the eastern and western extremes of the Everglades. Our general recommendation is to stay on the western side due to the proximity of other attractions in the Everglades. We would suggest Naples and Marco Island as places with a wide range of choices for accommodations of all sizes and budgets. Miami on the eastern extreme is also an option.

Extraordinary Fun Facts About the Florida Everglades Additional Information

The extraordinary facts about the Florida Everglades are presented here to help the understanding and importance of this diverse ecosystem.

Florida Travel Blog knows the historical significance and gravity of our future if development conquers good judgment in preserving the Everglades.

Below are more resources and fun facts about the Everglades.

A Captivating Journey Through the Everglades

The Origins of the Florida Everglades by USF

History and Culture of the Everglades

Restoring the Everglades

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