Home Archived October 29, 2018
U.S. Geological Survey

South Florida Information Access - Virtual Tour

virtual tour home

Lake Okeechobee
Jonathan Dickinson SP
Blowing Rocks
Fern Forest
Controlling the Waters
West Lake/Anne Kolb
Alligator Alley
Big Cypress
Corkscrew Swamp
Biscayne NP
Everglades NP
- Northern Section
- Southern Section
Florida Bay/Keys
10,000 Islands/Rookery Bay

Photo Gallery
About this site


Everglades National Park

| Northern Section | Southern Section |

map showing location of Everglades National Park
Map showing location of Everglades National Park.
Early conservationists recognized the Everglades as a unique treasure. In 1928, Ernest F. Coe lobbied for the creation of a national park within the lower Everglades and later that year, legislation to create Everglades National Park (ENP) was introduced. Marjory Stoneman Douglas was part of the committee that helped to decide areas to include for the park. Later, in 1947, she would write "The Everglades: River of Grass", which helped to bring the Everglades to public attention.

At about the same time that Everglades National Park was established (1947), hurricane rains and flooding in the northern Everglades caused the state of Florida to ask for help from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. This resulted in the Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Project and the construction of about 1,000 miles of canals, levees, gates, dams and pump stations. While the C&SF Project was successful with providing flood control, the natural flow of water to the Everglades was greatly affected.

Trivia Question: Where is the only place in the world that alligators and crocodiles co-exist?
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park lies at the southern tip of Florida. The Park’s 1.5-million acres contain many distinct ecosystems including sawgrass prairies, pinelands, hammocks, cypress swamps, mangroves, saltwater marshes and Florida Bay. The highest point in the Everglades is 8 feet above sea level
. A gradual gradient makes for the southern movement of shallow waters toward the Gulf of Mexico.

For more information, please visit the Everglades National Park website.

Travel along with us toward Flamingo, located at the park’s southern end. Our stops along the northern section of the main park road will take you through the park entrance, The Anhinga Trail, Long Pine Key, The Pa-hay-okee Overlook Trail, and Mahogany Hammock.

A photo gallery is available for this page. [Photos taken December, 1999, unless otherwise noted]

ecosystem map of tour stops along northern main park roadMahogany HammockPa-hay-okee Overlook TrailLong Pine KeyAnhinga TrailEntrance
Map showing locations of stops along the northern section of the main park road in Everglades National Park. The colors show the various ecosystems within the Everglades.

Welcome to Everglades National Park

photo of freshwater marl prairie landscape
[larger image]
Near the beginning of the main park road through Everglades National Park, along the east and west sides, sunbeams shine through heavy clouds onto the freshwater marl prairie. Sawgrass covers this open, flat prairie. It is the most dominant plant in the Everglades "River of Grass".

Sawgrass is a member of the sedge family and is not really a grass. It is named for the rows of sharp teeth that run along each edge and down the central spine. If touched in the wrong direction, sawgrass can cut.

Anhinga Trail

The 1/2-mile Anhinga loop Trail begins at a short paved area, which leads to an elevated boardwalk. The boardwalk winds through a sawgrass marsh and Taylor Slough, which resembles a pond in some areas. The word "slough" (pronounced "slew") is used to describe Everglades areas where there is slightly, deeper water than in the surrounding marshes and where a slow current is present.

Which bird's feathers are more like fur than feathers?
Ans: Anhinga's!
photo of Taylor Slough
[larger image]
Looking from the Anhinga Trail boardwalk over the ponded water in Taylor Slough. The aquatic plant spatterdock lies on the pond surface, small tree islands provide a roosting spot for cormorants, and sawgrass surrounds the pond.

photo of anhinga in tree
[larger image]
As if on cue, near the beginning of the Anhinga Trail a female anhinga roosts in the trees. Females are easy to identify as their neck and chest feathers are much lighter in color than the male. Distinguishing traits of an anhinga include a long tail, white wing feathers and a pointed beak that it uses to spear food.

Anhingas prefer freshwater areas and are but one of the common water birds found in Everglades National Park. Other commonly seen water birds include cormorants, ibises, roseate spoonbills, and pelicans, as well as many heron and egret species.

Wading birds mostly forage in shallow waters. Therefore, the draining of wetlands limits foraging habitat. Due to drainage of the Everglades, wading bird populations have been drastically reduced.

A double-crested cormorant rests nearby the ponded Taylor Slough waters, along the Anhinga Trail. The cormorant uses its hooked beak for grasping its prey, usually fish. Cormorants have webbed feet that quickly propel the bird both on surface waters and underwater. photo of cormorant
[larger image]

photo of purple moorhen
[larger image]
Near the beginning of the Anhinga loop Trail boardwalk, a purple moorhen stands atop the spatterdock. Purple moorhens have a vibrant green and blue upper body, a blue head, a light-blue forehead shield and a red beak with a yellowish tip.
Note the large feet of this purple moorhen (at right) seen near the beginning of the Anhinga loop Trail boardwalk. The bird’s large feet enable it to walk atop aquatic plants (such as spatterdock) in search of food.

photo of a purple moorhen
photo courtesy of Brennan Mulrooney
(date taken unknown)
[larger image]

photo of purple moorhen
[larger image]

Taylor Slough
photo of freshwater marsh
[larger image]
(left) Shot of the freshwater marsh in Taylor Slough. The white line of boxes was a biological experiment conducted by researchers studying either mosquitoes or crawfish.

(right) Shot of the sun and clouds over Taylor Slough.

photo of sun and clouds
[larger image]

A Bird's Eye View of Taylor Slough

photo of freshwater prairie
[larger image]
(date taken unknown)
photo of freshwater prairie
[larger image]
(date taken unknown)
photo of freshwater prairie
[larger image]
(date taken unknown)

(Above) Aerial shots of the fresh water prairie in Taylor Slough.

photo of Taylor Slough
[larger image]
(date taken unknown)
(left) Aerial shot of the Taylor Slough.

(right) Aerial shot of the center of Taylor Slough
during high water.

photo of high waters in Taylor Slough
[larger image]
(date taken unknown)
photo of Old Ingraham Highway
[larger image]
(date taken unknown)
(left) Aerial shot of Old Ingraham Highway in Taylor Slough.

(right) Aerial shot of Taylor Slough Bridge.

photo of Taylor Slough Bridge
[larger image]
(date taken unknown)
photo of Frog Pond agricultural area
[larger image]
(date taken unknown)
Aerial shot of the Frog Pond agricultural area that borders the Park.

photo of budding spatterdock floating on water
[larger image]
Budding spatterdocks were seen floating atop the Taylor Slough waters. Spatterdock is a common freshwater plant of Florida. Its heart-shaped, large leaves may be wide or narrow and generally have wavy edges.

Tree Islands
Looking east from Anhinga Trail, over Taylor Slough sawgrass marsh. Tree islands are seen in the background. Tree islands form on depressions in limestone bedrock that have filled with peat soils to elevations higher than surrounding marshes. These islands provide habitat for many animals including birds, mammals and alligators. photo of Taylor Slough sawgrass marsh with tree islands in distance
[larger image]

photo of alligators in Taylor Slough
[larger image]
We observed many alligators by the ponded slough waters near the Anhinga Trail. Here an alligator lies on a small patch of elevated land and another alligator lies in the grassy waters-edge of Taylor Slough.

Alligators are cold-blooded animals. Therefore, their body temperatures adjust to surrounding temperatures. When cold, they may become inactive like these alligators and will search for a sunny area or dig down into the mud under water. Alligators are generally more active when the weather is warm.

Alligator head poking out of water
Alligator at Anhinga Trail courtesy of Brennan Mulrooney
(date taken unknown)
[larger image]

Observed from the safety of the Anhinga Trail boardwalk, this alligator hides partially submerged in the grassy waters-edge of Taylor Slough. Alligators are patient predators. Their diet can include waterbirds, fish, turtles, small mammals and other alligators. photo of alligator in water
[larger image]

Can you find the alligator in this picture?
photo of alligator hidden on shore of Taylor Slough
[larger image]
Hint: It is resting on a tree island in the Taylor Slough ponded area.

Long Pine Key

panoramic photo of pine forest
A panoramic view of the Long Pine Key pine forest surrounding a small lake. [larger image]

Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park contains a pine forest community indicative of the original pine ("fire") forests of Florida. The forest contains slash pines with an understory of saw palmettos, wildflowers and ferns.

Plants that grow in the pinelands must be resistant to fire as areas such as these are maintained by fire. Fires are beneficial to the pines as young pine seedlings require lots of sunlight to survive, and the fires destroy hardwood competitors. When fires occur, hardwood seedlings and other understory plants are affected, while the thick bark of the pine resists fire damage. Without fires, hardwoods would eventually overshadow the pines and a hardwood hammock would emerge.

Butterfly pea vine
photo of flowering butterfly pea vine
[larger image]
A butterfly pea vine flowering in the sandy soils of Long Pine Key. These vines usually bloom in all but the winter season and are common in open pinelands.

Pa-hay-okee Overlook Trail

The Pa-hay-okee (Indian word for "grassy waters") Overlook Trail consists of a short boardwalk trail, which ends at an observation tower. From the tower, visitors can take-in an incredible view of the endless grassy waters, which make up the "River of Grass", and a large cypress dome.

Looking from the Pa-hay-okee Overlook Trail observation tower, out across the vast expanse of grassy waters. A large cypress dome is seen in the distance. photo of grassy waters with cypress dome in distance
[larger image]

Did you know? Cypress domes are cypress swamps that when viewed from a distance have a dome-like appearance with the tallest trees near the center. Usually, waters in cypress domes are deeper near the center, which is why the tallest trees grow there.

Freshwater snails
photo of snail shells on surface of grassy water
[larger image]
Looking down from the Pa-hay-okee boardwalk, snail shells litter the grassy water’s surface. Freshwater snails found within the Everglades include the Florida apple snail and the Seminole rams-horn. Both the apple snail and the rams-horn are found in areas that are flooded for much of the year, however the rams-horn can also be found in areas with shorter hydroperiods.

The snail kite is an endangered bird of prey that feeds almost exclusively on apple snails. As the apple snail requires habitats with extended periods of inundation, when water delivery to Everglades National Park is delayed the snail population is affected thus affecting the dwindling numbers of snail kites.

photo of orange fungus
[larger image]
Looking down from the Pa-hay-okee boardwalk, a bright orange fungus grows on a dead branch lying atop the "River of Grass".

Mahogany Hammock

The 1/2-mile Mahogany Hammock boardwalk winds from sawgrass on lower ground into an elevated mahogany hammock.

Below, south of the Mahogany Hammock Trail, freshwater marl prairie is seen along the east and west sides of the main park road. Freshwater marl prairie is a type of marsh that is flooded about 3 to 7 months a year. Large expanses of freshwater marl prairie are found within Everglades National Park.

photo of plant life growing along edge of freshwater marl prairie
Looking from the cleared grassy area along the main park road, a mixture of plant life grows along the edge of the freshwater marl prairie. [larger image]
photo of hammocks and sawgrass expanse
Hammocks interrupt the flat sawgrass expanse. [larger image]
photo of freshwater marl prairie landscape
Beyond the freshwater marl prairie’s sawgrass and hammocks, ponded waters are seen in the distance. [larger image]

photo of periphyton
Looking down from the Mahogany boardwalk, periphyton is abundant in the watery sawgrass. [larger image]
Periphyton is a useful mix of different types of algae that grows under water in mats. It forms the bottom of the Everglades food chain and is an important source of food and oxygen for many small aquatic organisms. In the winter dry season, the periphyton will provide small organisms with the moisture they need to survive until rain comes again.

IPIX - Mahogany Hammock
This hammock community exists because it grows atop an elevated mound of limestone and has been bypassed by fires. Pine forests grow where frequent fires have kept back the growth of hardwood trees. Hammocks such as these may provide habitat for many animals including: tree snails, raccoons, opossums, birds, snakes, lizards, tree frogs and large mammals such as the Florida panther.

Navigate around this 360° view along the Mahogany Hammock boardwalk at Everglades National Park.

  IPIX image view of boardwalk through Mahohany Hammock.
Note: You will need the free IPIX viewer to view this 360° image  

Related SOFIA Information

Below we have listed science projects and publications for studies that are being conducted, or have been conducted, in the area of Everglades National Park. Follow these links to read about each project and to see project-related publications and data.

Science Projects:

Related Publications:



U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Center for Coastal Geology
This page is: http://sofia.usgs.gov /virtual_tour/enp/index.html
Comments and suggestions? Contact:
Heather Henkel - Webmaster (hhenkel@usgs.gov)
Last updated: January 15, 2013 @ 12:44 PM (HSH)