A Guide to the National Parks of Florida

Bill Reynolds has been with the national parks service for a decade, and has visited a ton of them—particularly in Florida. It’s fair to say the spokesman is a super-fan. Of the famed Everglades, he crows, “If the National Parks are America’s crown jewels, the Everglades are some of the shiniest!” But it’s not the only gem in the Sunshine State.

Florida’s national parks aren’t just vast stretches of wilderness. Some of the best sites guarded by the National Park Service include national monuments, memorials, and trails.

In addition to the usual precautions—plenty of water, salty snacks, layers, sunscreen, bug spray, and maps—keep in mind that “these are wild places,” says Reynolds. As is true of bears in the Smoky Mountains, alligators and rattlesnakes are a real part of Florida. So be aware of your surroundings at all times, keep children and pets close, check the NPS website to make sure your park of choice is open, and get ready to explore the great state of Florida.

The unique thing about these parks, says Reynolds, is that each features both outdoorsy as well as historic options. Take the Fort Caroline and the Timucuan Preserve, for example, a national memorial in Jacksonville. There are incredible wetlands and waterways for kayaking, but there are also artifacts from the Timucuan tribe (the now-extinct people who settled in that area). Fort Caroline was also the site of battles between French and Spanish settlers.

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