We moved south along the Gulf Coast to Marcos Island. This part of our trip was a late add on. As a result we were closed out of the State Parks. The Marcos Island/Naples KOA had one spot left. We booked it.
The empty sites filled up by the end of the day. As you can see the sites are small and close together. Certainly not the most scenic campground you’ll ever see. What it lacks in beauty and solitude it makes up for in its proximity to a number of Gulf beaches and to the Everglades.
We arrived at Marco Island during a record setting heatwave. With temperatures in the high 80’s and low 90’s, the beach or poolside at the KOA was the place to be.
When in this part of Florida we enjoy visiting the Corkscrew Swamp Preserve. The 2 mile boardwalk provides an intimate walk through this cypress swamp without getting your feet wet!
The Bald Cypress found in this swamp are some of the largest trees found east of the Mississippi River. In spite of the hurricane that came through in 2017 which downed several of the large trees, it’s still an impressive stand.
The large branches of these trees host a variety of other plants; resurrection ferns and epiphytes among them.
The swamp is also home to a wide variety of bird life.
We saw Ergrets, Herons, Black and White warblers, Palm Warblers, a Red Shoulder Hawk and a Pileated Woodpecker. The Audubon volunteers were most helpful in helping us identify the warblers.
The Everglades NP spans 1.5 million acres making it the third largest National Park. We entered the park by way of the Tamiami Trail (Rt. 41) and drove along the 24 mile Loop Rd Scenic Drive. The road takes you into the Big Cypress National Preserve for some excellent wildlife viewing.
In addition to the numerous alligators, we saw lots of birds.
At the western side of the Everglades you access the Ten Thousand Islands section of the park. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is a jumping off place for canoeists, kayakers and sport fisher people. You can also get a ticket for a one hour tour of the area on a catamaran.
The only requirement for island status is enough ground (usually some limestone rocks) for one tree to grow (usually Red Mangrove).
The highlight of the boat tour was our encounter with a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins.
Naples is a very busy area with lots of traffic without many opportunities for biking. We biked along the Gordon River Greenway which meanders through a suburban neighborhood. The draw for us was the 3 mile trail through a mangrove swamp~ out and back made an easy six mile ride.
We also managed to find a local brewery that was producing some fine beer.
Naples has a large city beach that is popular with visitors and locals. It’s the place to be at sunset.