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Explore the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park

Many guests of our Lely Resort condo rentals are in town to visit Fakahatchee Stand Preserve State Park, the largest state park in Florida. 

There are plenty of state parks and wildlife preserves in Florida but none are like Fakahatchee Strand, which is why so many people come to visit annually. There is a strong emphasis on preserving the park’s natural beauty. This is just one of the reasons why you won’t find a lot of facilities within the park- it is a park of exploration and adventure. It is divided into four distinct areas, the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk, the East River, Janes Memorial Scenic Drive, and the Jones Grade Lakes. 

Each specific area is unique. The Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk is approximately 2,500 feet long and it meanders through the swamp and ends at alligator pond where there is an observation deck.

The East River canoe ride goes through Fakahatchee Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands. It passes through a series of small lakes, and mangrove tunnels before it comes to a tidal river.

Janes Memorial is where most of the hiking and biking trails are found within the park and the Jones Grade Lakes is where fishing, kayaking, and canoeing occur within the park, However, no swimming is allowed in the lakes.

woodstork in the swap

History

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park is considered the Amazon of North America. It is a swamp forest that is roughly twenty miles long by five miles wide. It formed by the movement of water for thousands of years. Clean freshwater is how it remains in existence. Underneath bald cypress trees is a shallow river. There are a variety of habitats in the park that span from the wet swamps to the dry island tropics. The majority of the trees in the park consist of native royal palms.

The park’s ecosystem is the only place in the world where both bald cypress trees and royal palms share a canopy. It is the bromeliad and orchid capital of North America. You can possibly discover 44 native orchids and 14 native bromeliad species. Some of the species of the park include Florida panthers, white-tailed deer, black bears, Eastern indigo snakes, minks, diamondback terrapins, and hundreds of migratory birds.

The Southern part of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve is part of one of the most productive estuarine ecosystems worldwide. Under the surface, the conditions are ideal for the development of the many commercially important fish species. Even though the park’s ecological system was damaged when logging and road development occurred, it has recovered and is still an important natural system.

bike trail in the woods

Adventures

The adventures that can be experienced in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park are some of the best outdoor activities near Lely Resort. The parks tours can be done solo, or with an organized tour group. Visitors to the park can enjoy tram tours through the park, hiking, bike trails, paddle boating, boardwalk tours, and swamp walks. Some of the tours offered are guided tours and others are self-guided tours that allow you to go at your own pace. 

The tram tours enable you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the park while taking in the scenery around you. Swamp walks give you the chance to get your feet wet while being guided by a biologist. There are several swamp tours to choose from. 

With the number of adventure tours offered, you’re sure to find something that will appeal to you at Fakahatachee Strand Preserve State Park.

Hours & Parking

Proper planning is essential. Fortunately, the park is open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset. This gives you ample time to plan your trip. While on-site parking is available, parking fees for the day are $3 per vehicle (up to 8 persons). There is also a $2 per pedestrian and bicyclist fee. Pay stations are located at each visitor center and the East River canoe launch. 

Contact us for any information about our Lely Resort pet-friendly rentals for the season. Bring a pet along for the adventure!