Many people go to Orlando and don’t explore the most amazing part. There are several Orlando national parks filled with natural beauty, plants and animals. I get why theme parks are popular but Orlando is also a fantastic starting point for discovering the real Florida. You’ll find clear, cold springs, twisted cypress knees, mysterious swamps and hiking trails under grand live oak trees.
I have been to Orlando multiple times to check out the national parks and these places would add wonderful memories to your visit.
Also have fun in the beautiful city of Orlando with Airboat Tour, Safari park, Helicopter Tour, Night Tour Over Orlando’s Theme Parks and more.
What is a National Park?
A national park is a special place in nature that the government protects. It has beautiful landscapes, plants, and animals. People can visit to enjoy and learn about nature. National parks are like giant outdoor classrooms.
What is the difference Between National Parks and State Parks?
National parks and state parks are both protected areas but there are some key differences between them.
National parks are large natural areas that are protected and managed by the federal government. They are spread across the country and are known for their scenic beauty, unique ecosystems, culture and history. Examples include Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon National Park.
State parks on the other hand are similar but are managed by state governments. Each state may have its own system of state parks and they vary in size and features. State parks often showcase the natural beauty and cultural heritage of a specific state. Examples include California’s Big Sur State Park and Florida’s Myakka River State Park.
Top 5 Orlando National Parks
Several national parks in Orlando Florida teem with amazing wildlife and natural beauty. Below I present my top 3 favorite Orlando National Parks.
- Big Cypress National Preserve
- Biscayne National Park
- Everglades National Park
1. Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve was created in 1974 to protect the special wetland area of the Big Cypress Swamp. This preserve spans over 729000 acres and includes cypress trees, sawgrass prairies and mangrove forests. It is a habitat for various animals like alligators, Florida panthers, West Indian manatees, and many bird, reptile and mammal species. The area also plays a crucial role in providing water for the Biscayne Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to millions in South Florida.
If you visit Orlando national parks there are a lot of amazing things to do. You can hike, camp, hunt, fish and watch wildlife. The preserve has scenic drives, overlooks and ranger led programs like swamp walks and canoe trips. Managed by the National Park Service, Big Cypress National Preserve is a hit among outdoor fans, nature lovers and anyone keen on discovering South Florida’s unique ecosystems.
For hikers the Kirby Storter Boardwalk offers a great and quick glimpse into the preserve. If you want to really absorb the scenery, canoeing is the way to go. There’s a lot to learn about canoeing and you can find tips on the Big Cypress NPS canoeing page. Birdwatchers are in for a treat as well. With nearly 200 bird species Big Cypress is a popular spot for birding enthusiasts.
2. Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park started in 1980 and covers a big area of over 172000 acres. It includes the lower part of Biscayne Bay, the mangrove forests around it and the reefs offshore. What’s special about this park is that a whopping 95% of it is underwater making it the largest marine park in the National Park System. It is a hot spot for people who love boating, snorkeling and scuba diving. The clear waters let you explore colorful coral reefs, mangrove forests and old shipwrecks. But it is not just about water activities. If you visit you can also do things on land like hiking, camping and watching wildlife.
The park is a home for many plants and animals like manatees, sea turtles and lots of bird species. Besides its natural beauty Biscayne National Park has a long human history. People lived there thousands of years ago. Today It is one of the best Orlando national parks where people from around the world enjoy outdoor fun and support conservation. Scuba diving is super popular here since 90% of the park is underwater.
But it is important to know that the reefs face challenges from climate change putting the whole ecosystem at risk. If you prefer being on the water, boating is a fantastic way to explore. Biscayne is full of lovely mangrove swamps and using a kayak or canoe is the best way to take it all in.
3. Everglades National Park
The Everglades is a big wetland area with slow rivers, grassy marshes, mangrove forests and wooded areas. Many animals, like alligators, manatees and Florida panthers live there and need protection. People who visit the park can do lots of fun things such as hiking, watching birds, fishing and boating.
Park rangers also lead activities like walks, canoe trips and learning programs. The Everglades national park is not just pretty with many animals. It is also important because it has a long history.
People lived there for thousands of years and now it is a special place for everyone who cares about nature and wants to keep it safe.
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Orlando national parks are filled with so many natural wonders. You will find a beautiful landscape. There is a very large variety of plant species including oak trees. These Orlando national parks have a very variety of birds and other animals. Visitors can participate in a lot of fun activities. They can do fishing, hiking, kayaking and canoeing. So what are you waiting for? Make some time from your busy schedule and visit these amazing Orlando national parks.