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Orlando Wetlands Park - One of Orlando Florida's Hidden Gems

Updated on November 26, 2010
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History

After the Seminole wars in the 1830s, people moved to the area and built Fort Christmas. After the Civil War, the area was used for cow pasture and the trees where logged for lumber. In the 1940s, the land where the park is today was a dairy farm. In 1986, the City of Orlando purchased the 1,650 acres of land and turned 1,220 acres into wetlands to be used as a giant filter to clean treated water before it went back into the Saint Johns River. This was one of the world's first few wetland water treatment filters, which has been copied in various communities around the country since. The wetlands are broken up into sections with different water depths. The treated water makes a 40 day trip through the various sections, each with their own type of habitat. The city planted about 2.3 million aquatic plants to create the wetlands. After the water leaves the wetlands, it has less nitrogen and phosphorus than in the Saint Johns River where it flows into. Since the water from the wetlands is cleaner than the river, it helps dilute the pollutants already in the river, making the water downstream cleaner than the water upstream. That's some really clean water considering it came from toilets, farms, and storm drains. The wetlands also happen to be very popular for wildlife, including endangered species. The park is a great example of how we can use nature to solve some of our problems.

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Caracaras in the middle of the road.OspreyYoung VulturelimpkinYoung IbisRed-Winged BlackbirdDon't know what kind of duck these are, but they are not common in Central Florida.Glossy IbisGreat Blue HeronRoseate SpoonbillsWhite IbisGlossy Ibis and White IbisHawk with lunch
Caracaras in the middle of the road.
Caracaras in the middle of the road.
Osprey
Osprey
Young Vulture
Young Vulture
limpkin
limpkin
Young Ibis
Young Ibis
Red-Winged Blackbird
Red-Winged Blackbird
Don't know what kind of duck these are, but they are not common in Central Florida.
Don't know what kind of duck these are, but they are not common in Central Florida.
Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills
White Ibis
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis and White Ibis
Glossy Ibis and White Ibis
Hawk with lunch
Hawk with lunch

Birds:

More than 145 species of bird have been seen there. During the winter months, numerous species of birds use it as a winter home. Also, there are large numbers of bird species that use it as a year round home. Some of the species you can expect to see are: Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Osprey, Red Shouldered Hawk, Bald Eagle, Crested Caracara, Limpkin, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Wood Stork, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Black-crowned Night Heron, Green-backed Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, Peregrine Falcon, Florida Sandhill Crane, Everglades Snail Kite, Anhinga, Kingfishers, Cormorant, various ducks, various owls, and more.

Alligators everywhere

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Baby AlligatorYoung Alligator catching some raysOn a hot day, the Alligators will be hiding from the heat in the water. Look for the eyes and snout peeking from the water.You'll walk right by Gators like this baby and not even notice him.There's lots of babies in the spring time. Be careful! The momma gator is always near and she while defend them!This guy could eat a whole deerThis park is loaded with gators.I had to run from this guy after I took this pic. LOLGators like this one probably have something to do with why they don't allow pets here. It's not even full grown and it could rip my leg off easy.More babies.On a good day, you can see around 20 or more gators next to the road or on the road. Cooler days force them to sit in the sun to warm up.This is what you would call a Man Eater
Baby Alligator
Baby Alligator
Young Alligator catching some rays
Young Alligator catching some rays
On a hot day, the Alligators will be hiding from the heat in the water. Look for the eyes and snout peeking from the water.
On a hot day, the Alligators will be hiding from the heat in the water. Look for the eyes and snout peeking from the water.
You'll walk right by Gators like this baby and not even notice him.
You'll walk right by Gators like this baby and not even notice him.
There's lots of babies in the spring time. Be careful! The momma gator is always near and she while defend them!
There's lots of babies in the spring time. Be careful! The momma gator is always near and she while defend them!
This guy could eat a whole deer
This guy could eat a whole deer
This park is loaded with gators.
This park is loaded with gators.
I had to run from this guy after I took this pic. LOL
I had to run from this guy after I took this pic. LOL
Gators like this one probably have something to do with why they don't allow pets here. It's not even full grown and it could rip my leg off easy.
Gators like this one probably have something to do with why they don't allow pets here. It's not even full grown and it could rip my leg off easy.
More babies.
More babies.
On a good day, you can see around 20 or more gators next to the road or on the road. Cooler days force them to sit in the sun to warm up.
On a good day, you can see around 20 or more gators next to the road or on the road. Cooler days force them to sit in the sun to warm up.
This is what you would call a Man Eater
This is what you would call a Man Eater

Wildlife Refuge

The wetlands serve as a home to many species of wildlife. The animal I see the most when I go there is the Alligator. There are hundreds of them everywhere. On a good day, you can see 20 gators resting by the road or on the road. If you know how to look for them, you'll find many more in the water. Usually, you will only see their eyes and snout peeking out of the water. They can easily be mistaken for logs floating in the water. There is a variety of snakes, turtles, and mammals that call the park home as well. Some of these species include, Indigo Snake, Florida Soft-shelled turtle, White-tailed Deer, River Otter, Raccoons, Opossum, Bobcat, Fox, Florida Panther, Armadillo, and the list goes on.

Other Reptiles and Amphibians

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Florida Soft Shelled TurtleYellow Rat SnakeFlorida Soft Shelled TurtleThis isn't a snake. It's a Glass Lizard. This type of lizard has no legs.Don't know this speciesDon't know this SpeciesYellow Rat SnakeThis garter snake was hanging out on the donations box all day, on the day I took this pic. The economy must be hurting him too, he has to steal the donations. lol
Florida Soft Shelled Turtle
Florida Soft Shelled Turtle
Yellow Rat Snake
Yellow Rat Snake
Florida Soft Shelled Turtle
Florida Soft Shelled Turtle
This isn't a snake. It's a Glass Lizard. This type of lizard has no legs.
This isn't a snake. It's a Glass Lizard. This type of lizard has no legs.
Don't know this species
Don't know this species
Don't know this Species
Don't know this Species
Yellow Rat Snake
Yellow Rat Snake
This garter snake was hanging out on the donations box all day, on the day I took this pic. The economy must be hurting him too, he has to steal the donations. lol
This garter snake was hanging out on the donations box all day, on the day I took this pic. The economy must be hurting him too, he has to steal the donations. lol

Park hours and information:

The park is open from sunrise to sunset and is closed from November 15 to February 1. If I remember correctly, Pets are not allowed (probably cause the gators will eat them). Riding bicycles is permitted and I'm sure a wheel chair could make it through the park with a little assistance. It is free to enter the park. The park's address is: 25155 Wheeler Road, Christmas, FL 32709-9257. It is located about 30 - 40 minutes east from Orlando.

To get there from Orlando:

  1. Head east on highway 50
  2. Turn left on Fort Christmas Road
  3. Pass Fort Christmas
  4. Turn right at Wheeler Road, it will take you straight to it

A
Orlando Wetlands Park:
25155 Wheeler Rd, Christmas, FL 32709, USA

get directions

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Family of RaccoonsOpossumRabbit
Family of Raccoons
Family of Raccoons
Opossum
Opossum
Rabbit
Rabbit

Comments/Questions

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    • profile image

      Connie 

      6 years ago

      Wow! I used to live in Orlando and remember passing through Christmas several times, but never knew about this park. I wish I had known. I'm sure it would have been a favourite spot to visit.

      I now live in AZ which has it's share of ancient Indian history and natural beauty. If you would like to learn more about the 'wild west', visit www.visiting-arizona.com

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