The National Park You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
An adventurer by nature, I thought I knew every national park in the U.S.- even Dry Tortugas National Park. That is, until I began researching “things to do in Miami and “things close to Miami.” It’s amazing what you can discover only a mouse click away and how two seemingly interchangeable searches can yield such different results!
One of those searches led me to Biscayne National Park. (What?) And further reading into this recluse, hermit, loner of a national park showed me the majority of the park is water- with the exception of the visitor center. I’m not sure why they didn’t just go the extra mile and make the visitor center completely inaccessible- 7 miles out to sea in a mangrove filled with alligators and man eating stingrays. Enter at your own peril! Also, good luck finding it. Take that GPS!
Just when you thought I was creating a fictional story with alligator filled mangroves and man eating stingrays, think twice!
Approximately two miles from our port of entry into the water via kayak, I had about a three second freak out. Paddling deep into a mangrove, I had a sick feeling we might happen upon an alligator. Easing into a deep meditation, I calmly thought about our escape route should we happen upon one or several. There was no way we could turn around the kayak in time and we were also surrounded by overgrown bamboo trees on either side. Rest assured, from the time it took me to figure out a plan, we had already turned around and headed toward open water. The moral of the story is: don’t risk your life to go off the beaten path. But, if you want to, you could see stingrays (not man eating), flying fish (which may make paddling more difficult as they tend to hurl themselves at innocent adventurers), and alligator bubbles.
Exiting the mangrove, we made our way around a small island where we saw some colorful pelicans. They just stared at us. For a brief second, I thought about Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and tried not to make any assumptions or relate it in any way to this moment. Sometimes I feel like Woody Allen- overthinking, neurotic, and slightly paranoid about nearly everything in life I encounter.
I would have liked to spend a day at Biscayne National Park exploring, snorkeling, and may scuba diving. Apparently the park covers a lot of square footage- running from Miami down to the northern Keys (useless fact of the day).
Most of the unique sights must be accessed through a boat- see link below. I hear there’s a 6 mile hike at Elliott Key if you’re into sweating and getting bitten by mosquitos. Here are some other locations that seemed intriguing to visit: Jones Lagoon and Maritime Heritage Trail.
For more info on the park, click here: Biscayne National Park Info
Bring a camera. I hate myself every day for not bringing my phone to take pictures on the kayaking trip- it was incredibly pulchritudinous (stop being such a pedant, Jamie).
All I have to show for my time spent in Biscayne is a few pictures on land.
Believe me! The secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from life is to live dangerously! -Friedrich Nietzsche