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Everglades National Park

Sights seen on a “quick” day excursion

sunny 91 °F
View Saturday at Everglades National Park & Weekend Trip to Acadia National Park on baecation2016's travel map.

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After realizing the cheapest ticket to a friend’s wedding meant driving 4 hours from the Atlantic coast to the Gulf Coast, we were bummed.
But after seeing that the route would take us through the Everglades, we were pumped!

The Everglades is a huge expanse of protected wetland, sawgrass, and cypress groves consisting of Biscayne National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and of course the 1.5 million acre Everglades National Park.

It was going to be impossible for us to see it all in 1 weekend, let alone 1 day. Our original plan was to hit up 2 visitor centers and their associated trails then go on an airboat cruise to see gators. The reality is that several hundred miles of driving and hiking in 90 degree humid heat leaves your girls wiped out!

The day began at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center.
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Here we received park maps, strategized our itinerary with park rangers, and pursued some educational exhibits and models.
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There was a beautiful view of the iconic sawgrass backdropped by a sunny day on a veranda encircling the visitor center with rocking chairs to take in the relaxing view.
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As we had heard that the Anhinga Trail recently had some gator babies and mama sightings, we made the short drive from visitors center to the trailhead.
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This short hike (more like a natural trail) was pretty neat. It’s comprised of interconnected boardwalks that lead to observation decks. It runs over wetlands and sawgrass culminating into a slough [sLEW].
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The Slough

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Unfortunately, we did not see any gators or their babies. The water had plenty of lily pads, Everglades fish, and Florida Red-bellied cooter turtles.
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On the other hand, the birds were thrilling!
The namesake of the trail, the Anhinga, made an appearance (photo captured later in the day). We were also stunned by the Purple Gallinule jetting across the lily pads in pursuit of fish.
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Other birds seen and/or heard featured the following:
Great Cormorant, Little Egret, White-eyed Vireo, Eastern Phoebe, Gray Catbird, Pine Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-headed Woodpecker, Turkey Vulture, and American Crow.
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The blazing sun left us thirsty and the mood for some delicious craft beer.
Luckily the Miami Brewing Company (in the same complex as Schnebly Redland’s Winery) was a short drive away and able to answer the call!
The beer list was extensive, even including a mead from the winery. We were able to sample quite a few of them via tasters and picked a winner for a pint (you get to keep it for free!).
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Our next and final stop came an hour later at the Shark Valley Visitor Center.
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The park rangers were closing shop so both the store and the tram trolley tours weren’t available.
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Thankfully one kind park ranger did agree to at least stamp our national park passports! We ventured down the Bobcat boardwalk trail with the goal of getting to the observation tower before sunset.
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Alas, we just didn’t have enough time to get there. But we had some sweet distractions on that pursuit.

First, the calls of unfamiliar birds attracted our attention along the Bobcat Boardwalk Trail.
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Second, all the birds captivated our interest at the East Tram Trail.
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Here we saw the following birds: Anhinga, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, White Ibis, and Belted Kingfisher.
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Last but not least, Heidi spied an alligator wading through the wetland bordering the tram trail. large_E88BCD0F-7467-443C-8BEB-5C912A0665BB.jpeg
Mission accomplished!

Our Everglades National Park day was more of an unexpected detour en route to a wedding. That being said, we made it a memorable and thrilling day excursion.
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A return trip to paddle, hike, and possibly camp Everglades National Park is now on our “gotta go back list”.
That and we still want to take an airboat gator ride. . .

Claudia & Heidi
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Posted by baecation2016 09:07 Archived in USA Tagged birds beer park national birding florida alligator everglades heat sawgrass slough

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