Thumbnail image from Pixabay
By Rebecca Fending
Every April, we celebrate our planet and environment through Earth Day. And just like last year, it may be a bit difficult for some folks to get out and participate in any festivals happening in observance of the holiday, so why not get out and enjoy the sanctuary of nature?
It’s not a secret that Florida has a number of beautiful nature preserves and parks that so many species of flora and fauna call home. With four major nature preserves and 11 national parks, a serene paradise is just in your backyard. So, what are a few parks and preserves that you should visit this spring if you haven’t already?
Established in 1934, the Everglades is a national park that attracts nearly one million visitors each year. The park spans over 1.5 million acres and holds a number of uniquely diverse ecosystems. This park may be a good drive for most of us, but the trip is more than worth it.
Although the Everglades has large wildlife like manatees, crocodiles and even the Florida panther, it also boasts over 360 different species of birds, according to the Department of the Interior. Whether you’re looking to camp overnight, drive through the park or take a light hike, the Everglades are the perfect place to visit this April.
Located about 70 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is known for its crystal waters, bird watching, camping and Fort Jefferson. The park has relatively shallow waters, making it an excellent place to snorkel or swim for all ages and skill levels.
For the history buffs, Fort Jefferson offers guided 40-minute tours of the grounds where you can hear about the deep, dark history behind the brick walls. Looking for a more relaxing destination? Visit the beaches where you’ll be greeted with powdery white sands, crystal-clear saltwater and serenity.
Alafia River State Park
Located in Lithia, this reclaimed phosphate-mine-turned-state-park is open year-round for visitors. The grounds are some of the most hill-filled in the state, making it a great place for those who love mountain biking or horseback riding. Canoeing and fishing are also available at the park’s pristine Lake Hurrah or in the Alafia River.
If you’re looking to walk or hike, consider geocaching: an outdoor game using hand-held (GPS) devices. It’s a bit like a scavenger and treasure hunt mixed into one—a great way to exercise and explore!