The Everglades - Ever Appealing!

Florida is world renowned for its wonderful climate, fabulous beaches and excellent resorts. But away from the bright lights, popular communities and tourist attractions, the state is also home to some vitally important ecological areas. Of course, no visit to the Sunshine State is complete without a trip to the Everglades, and most residents and vacationers are well aware of this vast natural landscape.

Extensive drainage of the Everglades in the early 20th century provided land for both agriculture and urban development. It is estimated that around half of the original Everglades area was transformed from wilderness to farmland and land for construction during this time. The creation of the Everglades National Park in 1947 secured around a quarter of the original area, ensuring the preservation of some of the remaining habitat.

Today, the Everglades is visited by more than a million people a year, creating significant revenue for the local economy. But just what draws so many people to this vast watery landscape?

Nature lovers and bird watchers come in droves to this unique landscape, in search of the Everglades' more elusive inhabitants. Throughout the National Park, trails and boardwalks provide a rare opportunity for visitors to explore the many types of habitat to be found in this amazing area. Some of the more unusual and alluring bird species to be encountered in the Everglades include the rare snail kite, roseate spoonbill, limpkin, red-cockaded woodpecker and the anhinga. Of course, many visitors to the Everglades are particularly keen to spot its most famous residents - alligators! These large carnivorous reptiles can be readily seen in suitable habitat throughout the park. Much less known, and far less frequently encountered, is the 'gator's endangered cousin the American crocodile. This aquatic predator is found nowhere else in the US, and the Southern Florida crocodile population is thought to number less than 2000 individuals.

As well as the wonderful wildlife to be seen in the Everglades, visitors can experience thrilling airboat rides, rent kayaks, go on swamp buggy tours or spend the night in one of the many superb camping sites. Keen anglers will find a host of great opportunities, including back country fishing tours and offshore charters. Museums and visitor centers throughout the region provide fascinating insights into the ecology of the Everglades, and the history of the indigenous people of the region.

Today, the Everglades is a major tourist attraction and visitors' spending generates somewhere in the region of $50 million for the local economy. With so much to see and do in this world-famous American wilderness, it's little wonder that the Everglades continues to be among the USA's most popular destinations, appealing to tourists from around the globe and Florida home owners alike.

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