Everglades, FL

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On to the Glades

Contrary to popular belief, the Everglades National Park is not just a big 'ole swamp. This 1.5-million-acre preserve -- the largest remaining subtropical wilderness in America -- is teeming with alligators, lizards, and other swamp creatures.

Canoeing is the best way to see it all, though travelers with small children are better off exploring on foot or by motorboat. Rent boats in the Flamingo area, just south of the main entrance; you'll find easy canoe trails there too: Nine Mile Pond Loop (5.2 miles), Noble Hammock Trail (2 miles), and Hells Bay Trail (3 miles).

If the kids are up for it, take them on a ranger-led swamp tromp. From December to early April, guided canoe tours leave from the rental house in Flamingo Valley. Tours range from half-hour to two hours, depending on ability level.

Although the park is one-third water, it's still hikable. Try the half-mile Bobcat Boardwalk and quarter-mile Otter Cave Hammock Trail in Flamingo, or Tram Road, a 15-mile, flat, paved route for trams, bicycles, and pedestrians in Shark Valley. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators, herons, egrets, deer, and turtles.

Continued on page 4:  Buckle Up


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