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The Amazing Water World of the Three National Parks in Florida

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Wet and Wild!

Each of the three National Parks in southern Florida all has some similarities. Each also has some peculiarities that make each park distinctive and unique.

If you are the type of person who likes spending time in the mountains, then perhaps this watery world in Florida will not be calling your name or have you making plans for a vacation visit.

However, if you long to hear the relentless waves of the ocean and think of sun-kissed beaches as being the perfect type of vacation, or if you enjoy studying animal and marine life, then these national parks may hold even greater interest for you to explore and enjoy.

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne first became a national monument in 1968, but as recently as 1980, it became a national park. The vast majority of this national park lies underwater.

Many shipwrecks lie on the sandy bottom sabotaged by the extensive coral reefs, which tore them asunder, causing them to remain there along with what they were transporting. Most of the treasures have been salvaged years ago by people exploring these waters and keys, but occasionally something new is discovered.

Notorious pirates like Blackbeard and Black Caesar also prowled these waters, wreaking devastation upon British, French, Spanish, and American ships back when each country was trying to make the most profit from the prosperous Caribbean trade.

The coral reefs are not only beautiful and in a constant state of being reconstructed by the forces of nature but importantly provide shelter and protection for many different species of sea life.

Many of the Biscayne Islands are tiny bits of watery havens consisting of some mangroves clinging to some bits of limestone and mud. Their tangled roots, the majority of which are above the water, eventually have the effect of trapping debris, which ultimately builds up more landmass. They become havens for fish, crabs, snails, and many bird species that roost, hunt, and live among them. The mangrove swamps provide excellent cover for immature fish and other sea creatures until they are large enough to compete in the open waters.

Some of the larger keys (islands) are Elliott and Adams, where tropical hardwood forests are seen, along with some ferns and flowers.

Sea turtles have nesting sites on some of the beaches. The turtles are protected, as is much of the life under the water and on land. Exotic species of plants, birds, fish, and everything from crocodiles to green iguanas are there, along with different types of whales frequenting these waters.

As one can easily imagine, especially since about 95% of this national park is water, this has become a haven for boaters, people who like to snorkel and scuba dive, and those who choose to explore the beaches and sites of the many keys and islands.

Some sport fishing is allowed, and one needs to be familiar with Florida's fishing laws.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Much like the Biscayne National Park, the Dry Tortugas National Park is mostly water. While the Biscayne National Park is in the Atlantic waters on the southeast side of Florida, Biscayne National Park is in the Gulf of Mexico waters on the southwest side of that state.

It became a national park in 1992 and got its name from the sea turtles who frequented those coral reefs.

Similar attractions draw people to this watery wonderland, some of which include the following:

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  • The shipwrecks
  • The sea life
  • The birds who call it home
  • The boating, snorkeling, and scuba diving opportunities.

A fascinating structure on Garden Key within the national park is Fort Jefferson, which is also designated a national monument. It is an immense structure composed mainly of bricks and was an active military post for approximately 70 years.

There is no freshwater on the "dry" Tortugas, so water had to be collected and filtered for human use.

The fort has not been in use for many years. At one time, it served as a prison and also as a quarantine station. Probably the most famous prisoners ever held there were some of the conspirators in the President Lincoln assassination.

Everglades National Park

While the Everglades is also a watery site, much of it appears to be like a grassy prairie land. The grass is called saw grass, and it is rooted in the bottom of a river. It gets its name because the blades of the grass have sharp sawlike edges.

Limestone is the composition of the bedrock that underlies the Everglades, and most of it is flat, but occasionally higher ridges are there, and that is where one can spot the trees such as pines and hardwoods that rise above the grass.

Mangrove swamps are also very much a part of this landscape.

There is a wet and dry season of the year, and this alternates annually and dramatically affects the wildlife found there. From May to November, the typical rains come, and the area which gets up to 60 inches of rain annually is a hot and humid environment. One can expect to experience some fierce thunderstorms during this time, and of course, it is also hurricane season.

Many fish reproduce rapidly during this wet season, and it becomes a feast of sorts for the herons and other wading birds who find it easy to satisfy their appetites, as do the other animals calling the Everglades their home.

When the dry season comes, the land becomes parched, and animals tend to congregate around the smaller pools of water. It is then easier to spot the alligators, crocodiles, wading birds, snakes, raccoons, and much of the other animal life. Sometimes in the dry season, a bolt of lightning can set the saw grass on fire where it can smolder for days or even weeks. It is part of the cycle of life, and new plants that are nourished by the ashes of the old rapidly rise from the water and grow.

Riding on an airboat skimming above the sea of grass in the Everglades spotting the wildlife on the rises of ground called hammocks would be an adventure not soon forgotten. It would be so exciting to spot one of the elusive Florida panthers or some of the strikingly beautiful birds like a purple gallinule walking from one lily pad across to another.

The Everglades contains freshwater, briny water, and saltwater. The diverse plant, animal, and aquatic life found there make it a unique and valuable national park and also a huge one.

Everglades National Park

Locations of the 3 National Parks in Florida


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 12, 2019:

Hello Gupi,

I was happy to be able to share this information with you. Every national park I have ever had the chance to visit has been well worth the effort. Each is special and memorable.

Gupi on June 11, 2019:

Thank you for sharing this article. The images seem very peaceful and serene :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 06, 2019:

Hi Rajan,

I hope you get that chance someday to visit some of our national parks in the United States. We have many of them!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 05, 2019:

I'd love to visit and explore these lovely national;l parks. Awesome pictures that draw one instantly to them. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 27, 2015:

Hi SweetiePie,

Perhaps someday you will be able to cross the country and get to visit the State of Florida. I have been there several times and there is plenty that I would still like to see and experience. Of course the same could be said for where you live. Both states are filled with loads of attractions worth seeing.

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on October 26, 2015:

My favorite image in this series is the sunset at Biscayne National Park. I have never been to Florida, so this was an interesting read.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 11, 2015:

Hi Suzanne,

I am learning more about your country of Australia due to your comments. Always interesting to read. Thanks!

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on June 10, 2015:

I have never visited these parks because I live in Australia, but may I say they look like wonderful places to visit! The Biscayne and Dry Tortugas parks look like parts of Queensland, where people go for holidays and to enjoy the giant reef and reef life. The Everglades National Park looks like a great place to go wildlife spotting and I think it would be useful for photo shoots too! Voted useful and UP ;)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 22, 2014:

Hello Tolovaj,

I have visited many national parks but not these in Florida. They do look very appealing and of course they are important for environmental reasons. Glad you liked this hub.

Tolovaj on September 21, 2014:

You definitely visited some of the most beautiful places in the world! They are not only visually appealing, they also have important role in wider environmental balance. Not to mention the history ... Who could resist the stories about pirates?

Thanks for sharing such lovely photos!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2014:

Hello GetitScene,

Nice that this hub struck a particular chord with you! Would be fun to explore those national parks in Florida with your friend. :)

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 03, 2014:

NOW we're talking my language. A friend and I have just been discussing a visit to Florida (she has never been) so I'm sending her a link to this hub to wet her appetite some more. Stars, useful and all that.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 31, 2014:

Hello sujaya venkatesh,

The entire State of Florida is worth visiting in addition to these national parks. Hope you get to spend time there someday. Appreciate your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 29, 2014:

Hi Dolores,

Glad you had such a good time in Florida.

sujaya venkatesh on January 28, 2014:

a must visit in US

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on January 28, 2014:

Hi Peggy - whooo what a trip! I am ready to go! Many long years ago, we visited South Florida in the winter. It was just after a blizzard and we had spent the previous 2 days digging out. What a treat. It was like a miracle to suddenly be able to see so much. Loved the Everglades. And we went out on a glass bottomed boat! (Voted up and tweeted)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 08, 2013:

Hi Roberta,

Florida does have so much natural beauty! I have no idea what the area looked like before Disney World was built, but I will take your word for it that some of the natural beauty was sacrificed.

RTalloni on November 07, 2013:

Florida's wild areas are amazing and it's good to see these parks highlighted. Enjoyed reading some of the facts on them again. I grew up in pre Disney World Central Florida and as much fun as can be had in those parks, it's still sad to see what has happened to the landscape there. Florida is filled with amazing natural wonders that should be protected.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2013:

Hi toptendeals,

That sounds like a fun place to visit. Thanks for your comment.

Jason Benedict from Boca Raton, Florida on August 08, 2013:

Another fun place to go in Florida is Captiva Island. Rocky beaches but the island is tucked behind a toll road with Bahama themed fun rental homes for a great weekend!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 26, 2013:

You are one gutsy and adventurous woman to head out on a journey like that! From what I have read, Costa Rica is supposed to be a relatively safe country and of course beautiful with the Atlantic on one side, mountains in the middle and the Pacific on the other side. I know nothing of the costs regarding living there but I am sure that you will do your research ahead of time regarding that. You could use your teaching skills to undoubtedly find a job if needed. Of course an adventure like that would give you lots of subject matter to continue writing on HubPages. :)

justmesuzanne from Texas on May 26, 2013:

I'm not sure when I can go. If I do, it will be to scope out the situation for relocation. I may need to sell my home and belongings to be able to swing it. If I do that, I will get a small van to camp in and do a little traveling and visiting in the US first and then head that way. If I like it, I will stay. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 26, 2013:

Hi Suzanne,

A trip to Costa Rica sounds wonderful! It looks to be a fabulous and scenic country from all that I have ever read and heard about it. How soon are you going? Assuming you have the time, it would be fun to see some of the national parks in Florida prior to or after your trip. Thanks for your comment and the shares.

justmesuzanne from Texas on May 25, 2013:

Perhaps I'll visit here on my way to Costa Rica! ;D The least expensive flights are out of Florida! Tweeted, Pinned and Facebooked!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 14, 2013:

Hi Suzanne,

I agree with you. Florida is a wonderful destination for a vacation get away and these national parks would each be lovely to experience. Appreciate your comment and votes.

justmesuzanne from Texas on May 13, 2013:

Many lovely things to see and do in Florida! :) Voted up and interesting!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 29, 2013:

Hi Indian Chef,

The USA has lots of water. We have the Atlantic ocean on our east coast, the Pacific Ocean on our west coast, the Gulf of Mexico on our southeastern portions between Florida and Texas and the Great Lakes in the north central to northeastern parts of the U.S. much of the Great Lakes bordering Canada. Then there are numerous lakes and rivers in many places of our country. So yes...we have water. We also have mountains and deserts...topography to suit just about anyone's idea of ideal. Thanks for the vote up and 5 star rating.

Indian Chef from New Delhi India on April 29, 2013:

Peggy, Very Beautiful Pictures. It must be fun to visit these places. Again I am impressed by so much water in USA. Beautiful place. Voted up and 5 stars.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 27, 2013:

Hi KoffeeKlatch Gals,

At least you do not have too far to travel to see the other National Parks in Florida. Nice that you have already enjoyed the Everglades. Thanks for your comment and votes. :)

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on April 27, 2013:

Peggy, I have added two places to visit to my list. I'e been to the Everglades and it is fantaastic. I can see from your pictures that I have missed much by not visiting the other two. Beautiful and absolutely up.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 26, 2013:

Hi Sheila,

My parents once took their motor home to Florida on vacation and saw parts of the Everglades. That would be a terrific way to vacation. They loved taking their dogs with them when traveling. Of course they saw many other parts of the state. Gas prices were much less expensive years ago. Hope that you get to fulfill your dream of doing so. Thanks for your comments and votes.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on March 26, 2013:

This was awesome! We took our daughter to Disney World when she was little, but didn't have time to see anything else. We made it to the Florida Keys one time, during a cruise, but again, didn't have time to see much. If the price of gas ever goes down to a reasonable price, I want to take our motorhome to Florida and see everything. I am bookmarking this hub for future referance, hopefully not too future! Voting up and awesome! :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 19, 2013:

Hello premanasia,

Happy to hear that you liked learning some facts about the 3 national parks located in Florida. Thanks for your comment and vote up.

premanasia from Jancuk City on March 19, 2013:

Very interesting facts. Thanks for sharing this. Voted up.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2013:

Hi Mary,

Of course you can link this article to yours. I just read your hub about the Burmese Python Roundup in the Florida Everglades and found it to be fascinating. Also enjoyed the video of the air-boat ride through the Everglades. Great job on that hub. Have added it to the Everglades National Park section of this hub. Thanks!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on February 18, 2013:

Just came back to ask if I may link this Hub into the one I am publishing on the Burnese Pythons in the Florida Everglades? Thanking you in advance. Mary

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 10, 2013:

Hi vespawoolf,

So nice that you have memories of seeing the Everglades with your parents. I agree that the shipwrecks, etc. make those other underwater national parks in Florida seem very interesting. Scuba divers in particular must love them! Thanks for your comment.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 10, 2013:

Of these 3 parks, I've only been to Everglades National Park. My parents took me on the air boat ride when I was 12 years old. I'll never forget the sight of many water birds and the unique landscape. The first national water park sounds very intriguing, with all the shipwrecks and history. Thank you!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 06, 2013:

Hi Rajan,

It is certainly a bit out of the norm to have national parks that are primarily underwater. Nice to know that these places are being preserved for the generations to come. So glad that you enjoyed reading this. Thanks for the votes and the share.