Everglades National Park

Picture of visitors at Everglades National Park.

Millions visitors flock to this amazing tropical paradise each year to behold the marvelous wonders of nature.

Here, there are no mile-deep canyons or sky-high palisades to stand in awe of, no mighty waterfalls to snap pictures of, no wandering moose or ambling grizzlies to admire from a safe distance.

Instead, Everglades National Park is the first national park in the world established for its biological bounty rather than breathtaking scenery.

Part grassland, part tropical swamp, it has been called a “river of grass.”

Life for its denizens is played out as it has been for centuries.

Ten-foot-long alligators bask in the sun and the steamy heat, keeping an eye open for their next big catch.

Picture of Alligator at the Everglades National Park.

At night the swamp resounds with their roars and the ground trembles as they act out their mating rituals.

Washtub-size turtles plow through the grass in search of food.

Darting, playful river otters share the same habitat.

Fresh tracks of Florida panthers on the prowl can be seen in the soft mud.

White-tailed deer need to keep ever on the alert, for these stalkers will at every opportunity dine on them.

Raccoon, often pictured washing their food in nearby streams, are at home in the Everglades, with a bounty of food straight from the Glades’ menu.

There is also life in abundance that is almost unseen by visitors to the Everglades.

Frogs of many varieties sit camouflaged on leaves above ground, on lily pads, and on beautiful water hyacinths in man-made canals.

Crawling at truly a snail’s pace among the aquatic plants are the apple snails—golf-ball-size mollusks, equipped with gills and a simple-type lung, which enables them to breathe both under the water and out of the water.

The shallow waters are alive with crayfish, crabs, and fish of many kinds.

There are snakes galore and insects and creeping things aplenty—all waiting to eat or be eaten.

Among the feathered creatures to be seen are the beautiful roseate spoonbills, white ibis, and snowy egrets that circle overhead while their mates may forsake the skies to warm the eggs containing their expected young.

Picture of a egret at flying.

The sight of the exotic great blue herons overhead, flying too fast to be counted, will long be remembered.

Sea gulls, pelicans, and purple gallinules share airspace with the majestic bald eagle, America’s national symbol.

Then there are the long-necked cormorant and the anhinga, or snakebird, so-called because it looks more like a reptile than a bird when it sticks its long S-shaped neck above the water.

Anhinga or snakebird.

Both types of birds, ravenous by nature, vie for food in the shallow waters of the Everglades.

When they are wet, both spread their wings and expand their tail feathers, creating a flamboyant display as though posing for a picture.

Only when their feathers are completely dry can the birds take to flight.

So as not to be overlooked, the cranelike limpkin will startle visitors with its yelling cries.

This big, brown-and-white speckled bird has been called the crying bird because it sounds like a grief-stricken human wailing in despair.

The rare and endangered Everglades kite, a crow-size bird of prey—whose very survival depends on the availability of the apple snail—is a memorable sight for bird watchers.

Gazing upward, visitors will marvel at the huge assembly of birds roosting in the majestic live oaks that are laden with glossy green leaves and tinseled with strands of Spanish moss.

Blending in with the colors of the birds are green and red blossoms hanging from delicate vines surrounding the trees.

Here, the visitors may forget which country they are in and which continent they are on.

Ah, here is a world of its own, a virtual paradise, primitive and beautiful.

Finally, there are the shallow waters and the golden saw grass—the unmistakable signature of the Everglades.

Boat tours at Everglades National Park.

As far as the eye can see is this shimmering and glistening silent river of grass, looking as flat as a tabletop, sloping southward at less than two inches per mile [4 cm/km].

Imperceptibly, without a noticeable current, the water is ever flowing lazily toward the sea.

It is the very lifeblood of the Everglades; without it, the Glades would die.

Boats skim the surface of the shallow waters through the tall, golden saw grass at stomach-turning speeds, giving tourists the thrill of a lifetime.