By Coastal Breeze News Staff
Take some time to check out the three Florida State Parks located right here, in Collier County. Florida State Parks are open year-round and feature a variety of outdoor activities for all to enjoy. The Florida State Parks website, www.floridastateparks.com, offers all the information listed below and more. Visit their website to find out what you’ve been missing regarding these beautiful parks located right in our own backyard.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park 11135 Gulfshore Dr., Naples, Florida 34108, (239) 597-6196.
This mile-long stretch of beach is one of the most popular seaside destinations in Naples. A beach lover’s dream, the park offers sunbathing, swimming, scuba diving, boating, fishing, kayaking and more. From Delnor-Wiggins Pass, boaters can access saltwater and freshwater for excellent fishing. A tower at the north end of the park allows visitors excellent viewing of the surrounding coastal habitat.
Park Activities: Beaches, Boat Ramp, Boating, Fishing, Interpretive Exhibit, Pets, Picnic Pavilion, Picnicking, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Swimming, Tours and Wildlife Viewing. The park also offers restroom facilities and showers for day visitors.
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
137 Coastline Drive, Copeland, Florida 34137, (239) 695-4593.
Considered “the Amazon of North America, the Fakahatchee Strand is a linear swamp forest, approximately twenty miles long by five miles wide. The park hosts a wide array of habitats and forest types from the wetter swamps and prairies to the drier islands of tropical hardwood hammocks and pine rock lands. Its groves of native royal palms are the most abundant in the state and the ecosystem of the Fakahatchee Strand is the only place in the world where bald cypress trees and royal palms share the forest canopy. Panthers, Florida black bears, Eastern indigo snakes, Everglades minks, white-tailed deer and an assortment of bird life exists among the diverse ecosystem. Hiking trails and guided canoe trips and swamp walks are some of the best ways to enjoy the Fakahatchee.
Park Activities: Hiking, Nature Trails, Guided Tours, Wildlife Viewing.
Collier-Seminole State Park
20200 E. Tamiami Trail, Naples, Florida 34114, (239) 394-3397.
This 7,271-acre park lies partly within the great mangrove swamp of southern Florida and contains one of the three original stands of the rare royal palm in Florida. The park also hosts a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, the last existing Bay City Walking Dredge. Built in 1924, it was used to build the Tamiami Trail through the Everglades. Visitors can enjoy overnight camping in both primitive and full facility camping sites. Collier-Seminole features canoe rentals as well as a freshwater boat ramp into the Blackwater River. Picnic areas offer grills and the boardwalk through the hammock will leave visitors in awe.
Park Activities: Bicycling, Boat Ramp, Campfires, Full Facility Camping, Primitive Camping, Canoeing and Kayaking, Fishing, Hiking, Nature Trails, Interpretive Exhibit, Picnicking, Picnic Pavilion, Playground, Guided Tours, Wildlife Viewing and a Visitor Center. Shower and restroom facilities are available along with certain pet access.
“Spring begins.” My calendar has informed me of the official beginning of this refreshing season, although I’ve felt it outside for a few weeks now. As a Floridian, I know spring will be short but it will also be time to break out of your everyday routine, release some stress, get out of the office and experience nature in Florida’s state parks.
Take the time this season to experience nature with all five of your senses – seeing Florida’s vistas, smelling newly bloomed flowers, feeling the sand between your toes, hearing the sounds of children playing and tasting the treats of your picnic basket in a state park. Spring is an optimum season to engross yourself in the natural and cultural resources of Florida’s state parks. There are so many opportunities for new experiences and the special places to continue your old family traditions.
Sometimes it is a hike in the forest, a walk on the beach, building sand castles with your kids, watching a sunrise or a sunset, grilling lunch under a big oak tree, looking for a bird species to add to your life list or paddling your canoe on a long stretch of river. It’s about immersion, surrounding yourself with nature and coming away with a renewed appreciation for Florida’s splendor. Sometimes you need a slow, relaxing experience, and sometime you might prefer a fast, exhilarating experience.
I encourage you to spend time in Florida’s award-winning state parks this season. Savor the atmosphere of spring and enjoy the Sunshine State in …the Real FloridaSM.
Donald V. Forgione
Director Florida Park Service