Friday, May 22, 2015

Camping In & Caring About Everglades National Park

Last weekend was our final camping trip of the season and we went to Everglades National Park.  You may remember from my previous Everglades post, Everglades National Park is, at 1.5 million acres of land, one of the largest wetlands in the world and the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. 

Oz the Terrier camping in dog-friendly Everglades National Park

When many people think of the Everglades, they think of alligator-infested swamps but the entire Everglades ecosystem is so much more than that.  It is actually eight different ecosystems - Hardwood Hammock, Pineland, Mangrove, Coastal Lowlands, Freshwater Slough, Freshwater Marl Prairie, Cypress, Marine and Estuarine.  Many of the Florida State Parks I have camped in are one or more of these ecosystems but it is only in Everglades National Park that you will find them all together.

Florida Coastal Prairie leads into Hardwood Hammock | Everglades National Park

The dog-friendly Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park is located at the southernmost point of mainland Florida.  This is where the two Freshwater Sloughs, the Taylor Slough and the Shark River Slough (also known as the "River of Grass") discharge into the Florida Bay.  It is in this brackish water that you will find the American Crocodile as well as corals and sponges on the hard Bay bottom.

Oz the Terrier at Florida Bay, Everglades National Park

The Florida Bay is a great place for a campground.  We set up in a campsite that had a partially obstructed view of the Bay but that still allowed for the easterly breeze to sweep through our campsite all day and night.  We were thankful for the constant breeze because it helped keep the mosquitoes and no-see-ums away from our site.  (At the Park entrance it said "Mosquito Level: Moderate" which roughly translates to "there are tons of them and they are big enough to chew your arm off"!)

Oz the Terrier in camp at Everglades National Park

Our campsite was an easy walk to the Coastal Lowlands and the Florida Bay Beach.  Here we enjoyed the relaxing sights and sounds of the ebbing and flowing tides.  It is also where I enjoyed barking and chasing the many birds flying by including terns, ospreys, kites and vultures.  In the evenings we would walk to the beach to enjoy happy hour and watch the sunset.  Even the Ranger joined us for sunset one evening!

An Everglades National Park Ranger says hello to Oz the Terrier

And at night...oh, the sky was just gorgeous.  Everglades National Park does a great job at preserving the natural lightscape of the night sky by using minimal light fixtures even in the campground.  The result is that we could see what seemed like every star in the sky as well as the Milky Way.  It was breath-taking.

We spent three days and two nights camping at Everglades National Park and I would say it was one of our best trips!

As I sat quietly on the beach one day, I thought about the many people, even residents of Florida, that have not visited Everglades National Park.  There are many Floridians who don't really even care about the Park, saying it's "just a giant swamp filled with alligators, bugs and snakes"...but they should care.  In fact, everyone should care about The Everglades.

Oz the Terrier at Florida Bay, Everglades National Park

In the past, people didn't care and The Everglades were exploited, polluted and there were even attempts to drain the water to make room for commercial building.  In recent years, some people still don't care and The Everglades has become the place where people dump their unwanted animals - from exotic species (think Rock Pythons, Burmese Pythons and Tegu lizards) that kill all kinds of native animals to pet dogs (don't believe me? check out 100+ Abandoned Dogs of the Everglades and Everglades Angel Dog Rescue). 

Everglades National Park, the third largest national park in the lower 48 States, protects some of the most diverse habitats in the United States.  It is permanent home to amazing creatures, big and small, many of which are on the Endangered or Threatened list including the American Alligator, the American Crocodile, the West Indian Manatee and the Florida Panther.  The Everglades also serve as a temporary home to many northern species of birds who migrate south for the winter.  It is said that over 360 species of birds have been spotted within the boundaries of the Park.

Red-tailed Hawk in Everglades National Park

One of the best ways to preserve our National Parks is to visit and appreciate all they have to offer.  If you never considered visiting Everglades National Park, I encourage you to do so (during the Dry Season - December to April - is best).  You will be amazed that a "swamp" can be a place of such diverse natural beauty.  And remember: "Take only photographs and Leave only footprints".


  1. What a fantastic place you found to explore there Oz.
    I finks Mum met some of those 'mosquitoes big enuffs to chew your arm off' when she went to Gwad Poop, you should have seen mess they made of her legs!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

  2. Looks like fun.....and you've got a fantastic observation post.

  3. Oh I wish I would be there with you Oz... I never spend the night in a tent and I would love it to sit with you on a pawmade campfire, grilling lobsters while talking about the latest peemails we got :o)
    easy rider

  4. You know it is something that has always amazed the Mom - people in general tend not to know about or go to places that are often right under their noses - thank you our Mom isn't one of them - she loves exploring as much as we doo. We will add that you our list of places to visit.

  5. So horrible to think about all that pollution :(
    It looks like such a gorgeous place!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!


  7. Have you spotted any Indian Ringneck Parrots in the park? If so, are they male and eligible?

  8. Mommy and Daddy went there a few time just to spend the day and go on an airboat ride. BUTT they didn't take me....bummer!

  9. I admit when I think of the Everglades, I think of an alligator-infested swamp. But your photos proved how beautiful it is. Thanks for sharing, we also entered the #FuelTheCure Contest!

  10. This may be a lame question, but could Oz go swimming in the water? By the way, I love the doggy lounge chair. Where did you get it?

  11. It does look like a beautiful place to visit.
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  12. WEll we loved the campsite for sure, and feel very bad that people do not take care of what was given to them, sigh...and it makes us sick inside to think of the dogs that peoples dump there. Humans??????
    stella rose

  13. Glad you had fun, but I know Mom would never give it a try. The no-see-ums always eat Mom alive no matter what she does. They even fly up her clothes and bite her. At home the mosquitoes don't bother her, but in FL, she is an itchy mess the entire time, add the alligator thing to it all and I think she would be over the edge. She is much happier on a snowy mountain with bears I think. It does look like a real nice place to visit and go camping if you know what you are doing.

  14. What a great post. Oz! We have never visited Everglades National Park, but we have visited many others and will certainly add it to our list. Sad that people don't appreciate it and even more sad that so many pets are abandoned there ...

  15. I have been there, but it has been many many years (30 maybe). It sure looks like you had a wonderful time.

  16. We absolutely love camping with our dogs Bear and Scooter- we're pretty far from the Everglades now- but have visited once on vacation- it was incredible!

    Woofs & Wags!

  17. This was a very good post. Mom thought it will full of gators!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  18. What a great last camping trip. I just love you in the hammock.

  19. Wow...what a beautiful place!! Mama thought it might be nice to scuba dive offshore...except for that gators habitat thing :-).
    Dory, Jakey, Arty & Bilbo

  20. That was a super interesting post. Gail (my human carer) tells me she would love to go to Everglades and is so pleased that are people who care about preserving these unique and wonderful environments. And now I know that it is not all alligator infested swamps, and even has nice dog friendly beaches, I think I might like it too. Although us Scots are not great in hot weather…
    Toodle pip!

  21. Thanks for all the information Oz! I learned a lot from this. I've never been to a "swamp" campground before, but I don't think we have any here. I've been to a few lake campgrounds in Texas, and some nice places by rivers in CO, NM, and Arkansas. Hopefully I can visit Florida one of these days!

  22. What a great post! I've been looking at the map recently, wondering what it would be like to camp in Florida. Quite frankly, I did think it would be too scary because of alligators and other such critters. I was going to touch-and-go Florida on my trip around the country, but now I'm altering my plans to head all the way south!

  23. So glad you pinned this post on the top of your blog. I'd have hated to miss it.

    As we get ready to live on a sailboat, everyone assumes we're most excited about the Caribbean. And I am. But I really look forward to seeing more of Florida.

    I would love to explore the Everglades and think it's such an amazing place (despite the fact that I am mosquito bait). Besides all the wonderful habitats, I'm sure it's important in lowering the impact of storms on the rest of Florida. If Louisiana hadn't abused its wetlands so much, I'm sure Katrina would not have had near the devastating impact.

    Thanks for the great pictures.

  24. We are considering a trip to the Everglades in November. We've never been there and I assumed dogs weren't welcome and Toby would stay home. Now I'm pinning this and maybe we can bring Toby after all - especially if I can locate a reputable boarding/day care facility so we can do some kayaking. Thanks for sharing this!


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Cairn cuddles,
Oz the Terrier