Not far from the Nike Missile site lies Long Pine Key, an area which encompasses nearly 19000 acres of slash pines, one of the largest and most threatened expanses of pine rockland remaining in the US. At one time, these pines dominated the entirety of South Florida, but have been eliminated by the growth demands and raw material harvesting.
I spent weeks leading up to this trip doing research and pouring over the best way to utilize our time, since I only had one day inside the largest wilderness in the Eastern US, and 3rd largest park in the contiguous US. The miles and miles of grassland are roughly the size of Delaware, over 2300 square miles. Unlike many of our National Parks, Everglades does not boast unique grandeur or geographical wonder; instead, the Everglades are unique in their ecological diversity. There are over 700 species of plants, 360 species of bird, 300 species of fish, 50 species of reptile and 40 species of mammal that call the rivers of grass home.