The National Park Service will be waiving its entry fees in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday weekend January 15-17. A good time to go to Shark Valley along the Tamiami Trail to take a tram ride or be adventuresome and bicycle around the loop (bikes are available for rent or you can bring your own). You’ll be up close and personal with the alligators who like to stay warm on the pavement as you ride by. There is an observation tower half way around the loop to view the scenery and wildlife. Great experience if you haven’t had the chance to visit yet.
At the Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City, ranger-guided programs have started for the season and include canoeing, biking, nature walks, and educational talks. For a full schedule, visit www.nps.gov/ever or phone 239-695-3311.
There are also a number of activities in Big Cypress National Preserve. In addition to guided boardwalk tours, there are wet swamp walks, campfire programs, and other activities all season. For information, phone 239-695-1201 or visit website www.nps.gov/bicy and click on “Plan Your Visit.”
Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery is offering swamp walks every Saturday. To make reservations, call 299-695-2428 or visit website www.clydebutcher.com
Closer to Marco are swamp walks through the Fakahatchee Strand, organized by the Friends of the Fakahatchee. These are scheduled the first three Saturdays in the month and reservations are required (239-695-1023 or website www.orchidswamp.org where you can watch a walk on YouTube).
On Saturday, January 22, the Friends of Fakahatchee are sponsoring a Coastal Cruise from Everglades City to Fakahatchee Island where you will visit the island and historic cemetery. The cost is $75 per person which helps the Friends support the State Park. For more information, call 239-695-2905 or visit website www.orchidswamp.org where you can book online with a credit card. Reservations are required and spaces are limited.
Also, on January 22 there will be a special Pancake Fly-In Breakfast with the “Antique Air Aficionados” coming to town. The event is hosted by Wings 10,000 Islands Tours and the Everglades Society for Historic Preservation from 10:00 am to noon. For more information, call 239-695-3296 or 239-695-2244. Drop in by air, road, or sea and share your memories of vintage flying. Art-in-the-Glades will also be held in McLeod Park on the Circle, featuring local artists, music and food.
The next BUZZ from the Swamp article will feature the Everglades Annual Seafood Festival to be held February 4-6 and the Collier Seminole Park’s “Jammin in the Hammock” annual event scheduled for February 12-13.
See you in the Glades!
Patricia Huff has lived in Everglades City for the past 16 years and is the Publisher of the local newspaper The Mullet Rapper.