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The Water World of the 3 National Parks in Florida

Updated on December 7, 2016

The Watery World of our National Parks in Florida


Wet and Wild!

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

If you are the type of person who is drawn to 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 are the type of person that longs to hear the relentless waves of the salty ocean waters and generally thinks of sun kissed beaches as being the perfect type of vacation, likes studying animal and marine life...then these national parks may hold even greater interest for you to explore and enjoy.

Calling all HubPage writers to contribute to this page by sharing your personal experiences in visiting these 3 National Parks located in Florida. If you wish to have your hub featured, please leave the title of your hub (not the link!) in the comment section. It will be interesting to read your unique perspectives regarding these national treasures.

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park Underwater
Biscayne National Park Underwater | Source
Sunset at  Biscayne National Park
Sunset at Biscayne National Park | Source
Boundary Map of Biscayne National Park overlaid on satellite image
Boundary Map of Biscayne National Park overlaid on satellite image | Source

Biscayne National Park

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

Countless 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 rich 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 eventually builds up more land mass. They become havens for fish, crabs, snails, and many bird species who roost, hunt and live among them. The mangrove swamps provide great 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 some tropical hardwood forests can actually be seen along with some ferns and flowers.

Sea turtles nest on some of the beaches and 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 can be spotted 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.

Florida's Biscayne National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park
Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park | Source
Fort Jefferson arches
Fort Jefferson arches | Source

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 situated in 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...the shipwrecks, the sea life, the birds who call it home, the boating, snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities.

A most interesting 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 fresh water on the "dry" Tortugas so water had to be collected and filtered for human use.

The fort has not been used for many years but at one time 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.

Read fellow hubber's experiences in visiting the Dry Tortugas National Park below by clicking on the various links.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Everglades National Park

American Purple Gallinule in water at Everglades National Park
American Purple Gallinule in water at Everglades National Park | Source
Non-breeding adult Little Blue Heron in the Everglades
Non-breeding adult Little Blue Heron in the Everglades | Source
Eastern Lubber Grasshopper photo taken at Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida, USA
Eastern Lubber Grasshopper photo taken at Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida, USA | Source
Double crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) spreading its wings.
Double crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) spreading its wings. | Source

Everglades National Park

While the Everglades are also a watery abode, 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 saw-like edges.

Limestone is the composition of the bedrock that underlies the Everglades and most of it is flat, but occasionally higher ridges are seen 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 greatly 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 lightening can set the saw grass on fire where it can smoulder for days or even weeks. It is part of the cycle of life and new plants which are nourished by the ashes of the old rapidly rise up from the water and grow.

Riding on an air boat 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 contain fresh water, briny water and salt water. The diverse plant, animal and aquatic life found there make it a unique and important national park and also a very large one.

Read the hubs below to see how different people have experienced this 10th largest national park in the U.S.

Everglades Overview

Locations of the 3 National Parks in Florida

show route and directions
A markerBiscayne National Park -
Biscayne National Park, 9700 SW 328 St, Homestead, FL 33033, USA
get directions

B markerDry Tortugas National Park -
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, USA
get directions

C markerEverglades National Park -
Everglades National Park, 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034, USA
get directions

Which of these National Parks have you visited?

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If you enjoyed this, please PUT SOME STARS on it. Thanks!

4.7 out of 5 stars from 16 ratings of Florida's 3 National Park

© 2013 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      SweetiePie 20 months ago from Southern California, USA

      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 W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Suzanne,

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

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      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 W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

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