Only a century ago the southern third of Florida was all wet wilderness. Believe it or not, Lake Okeechobee was nearly twice the size it is today, with nothing but endless swamp and sawgrass. The Everglades is more than 1,508,538 acres in size!
So, lets start at the beginning…The Headwaters of the Florida Everglades. It starts way up in the Orlando area, right there with Mickey Mouse. There is over 80,000 acres of water flowing through more than 20 lakes called the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. Lake Kissimmee, Lake Tohopekaliga (known also as “Lake Toho”), East Lake Tohopekaliga (“East Lake”-yes, we have 2), Lake Marion, Lake Cypress, Lake Gentry, and Lake Jackson (my personal favorite) just to name a few. Lake Kissimmee offers almost 35,000 acres, while the comparatively tiny Lake Jackson is 1,500 acres surrounded by a conservation reserve park. But in the end, all this water flows into Lake Okeechobee to round out the Everglades.
Now that we have discussed how massive the Everglades is, what is it good for? The Ecosystem! The area’s lakes, marshes and swamps are all critical parts of a delicate ecosystem sustaining a host of wildlife, Flora and Fauna. Airboat Tours are one of the best ways to see everything out in the Everglades, they can get into locations that you can’t walk or take a regular boat to.
There is so much you can do out exploring the Everglades…fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding and yes…swimming! Just be mindful of your surroundings and remember, respect the wildlife.