A visit to the Everglades in Florida, is a must for everyone. At least, just once; come see what the Everglades is all about. It's a mosaic of sawgrass marshes, pine rockland forests, tropical hardwoood hammocks, mangrove swamps and coastal estuaries, unlike anywhere else on Earth. Unfortunately only about half of the original Everglades ecosystem remains. You can drive around part of the Everglades and there is even a driving map with highlights, the Everglades Trail. You can view a list of the sites (20 in all) here and download a map to print and take with you (http://www.evergladestrail.org/trail_map.htm).
The headwaters of the Everglades actually begins in Orlando (near Shingle Creek) and meanders a slow, stream downward to the Gulf and the Keys. This area is known to the west as 10,000 Islands. There are actually several state and National parks that encompass parts of the Everglades; The Everglades National Park, Collier-Seminole State Park, Big Cypress National Preserve and Biscayne National Park.
Throughout this wonderful vast ecosystem you will find some trails for hiking and biking, as well as camping and of course, paddling. You can enjoy fishing, birding, photography and learning about the more than 300 birds that call the Everglades home. These places are great for visiting again and again for a long weekend, or a week at a time.
Accommodations come in the form of primitive camping, to campsites, hostels and of course, regular hotel rooms and other lodging. There are several places where you can get guided tours, in relation to paddling and fishing, or nature tours.
My personal favorite happens to be with Captain Charles Wright with Everglades Area Tours, you can find them via website and also on Facebook. www.Evergladesareatours.com or 239-695-3633. They are a wealth of information and offer a variety of excursions from; eco tours, bicycling, hiking, sea kayak tours, day trips, overnight camping, sunset tours and guided fishing trips. Please tell them Loretta Lynn sent you and says Hi! they are located south of Naples & Marco Island in Everglade City.
Although you might be hard pressed to find any guide during the summer for regular kayaking as the mosquitoes will carry you off, boat and all!
Be sure and spend some time just walking around the area to really get a sense of what a jewel we have here. Don't speed down Alligator Ally at 60 miles per hour, or you will miss what the Everglades is all about.