Coming to the Midyear Meeting? There's lots to do in South Eastern Florida!
by Tom Elligett
NCBP Communications Committee Member
Florida’s National Parks
The 2017 mid-year gathering in Miami offers an excellent chance for those who want to "get out of town" and see Florida’s three National Parks – all located in southeast Florida (Florida also has national monuments, memorials, seashores and preserves). Visiting will take some planning to reach from Miami, but visitors are likely to see sights differing vastly from their home bases.
Closest is Biscayne National Park – located largely in Biscayne Bay, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, but with a visitor center on land (in Homestead, south of Miami). Those ready to snorkel or scuba can visit shipwrecks within the park. For more information, go to: www.nps.gov/bisc.
Inland about an hour west from Miami is Everglades National Park. While it may look like a marsh, much of the Everglades is actually a wide shallow river. For those who have not seen an alligator in the wild, you are pretty much guaranteed to see them here. There are walkways where it is safe to view them in the wild (as long as you stay on the walkway – no gator wrestling).
Birds partial to the water are also plentiful. Less likely to be seen but still present are deer, bobcats and the endangered Florida Panther. For more information: www.nps.gov/ever
Most challenging to reach but worth the trip is Dry Tortugas National Park. Seventy miles west of Key West, travel to the islands comprising the park is by boat or the way we did – by seaplane. The scenery on the way and landing on the water were highlights. The water is clear and often shallow – we saw sharks and a shipwreck from the air. See www.nps.gov/DRTO
Home to Fort Jefferson, which is best known as the prison where Dr. Mudd – who set assassin John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg – was incarcerated. His life sentence was commuted in 1869, based on his efforts at healing the sick during a yellow fever epidemic. The Fort is well-preserved and visitors can snorkel around it.
If you plan to visit, keep in mind that getting to Key West from Miami is a day long drive itself, if traveling by car. But that’s a good reason to visit the interesting town of Key West – southernmost point in the continental United States. You can see Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum, and find plenty of places for dining and entertainment. The last time we visited, they still served alcoholic beverages. If planning to visit in February, be sure to book lodging in advance.
One final word. You can encounter mosquitoes anywhere in Florida, and its parks are no exception. They are annoying but otherwise generally harmless– except for the ones that aren’t. Pick up some repellent (there are some natural brands for those concerned about limiting chemical exposure).