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Enjoy a Cheap Florida Vacation at Collier-Seminole State Park

Nearby Adventures Await

Want a cheap Florida vacation to the Everglades regions? Pack the tent in the Road Rover and set your compass for Collier-Seminole State Park.

As the crow flies, Collier-Seminole State Park is about 90 miles west of Miami and 145 miles south of Tampa. As you might have figured, it's located right off the Tamiami Trail.

In summer months, the mosquitoes will just about carry you away, so the number of visitors drops way off.

In the cooler months, mosquitoes are quite tolerable to near non-existent. At those times, tent camping here can be a bit crowded. But I never minded that too much since the Park for me served mostly as an overnight headquarters for other adventures in the fairly nearby area.

I've stayed at this park several times, so I speak from personal experience.

What to Do and See

If you're the wild, outdoors type--and there's a good chance you are since you're on this web site--there's a lot to see near Collier-Seminole State Park. As with all Florida State Parks, make your reservation at Reserve America, show up as scheduled, pitch your tent or set your RV, and you're ready for several days of nearby adventure.

The Ivey House in Everglades City

The Ivey House
A Kayaker in a Turner River Mangrove Tunnel
Turner River Mangrove Tunnel
Entrance to Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
Back Entrance to Fakahatchee Strand

About 20 miles away is Everglades City, and the Gulf Coast Entrance to Everglades National Park. Rent a kayak, arrange for a shuttle, or guide service, or all three at the Ivey House and tour the Turner River or the Ten Thousand Islands.

Spend a day exploring the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. They have the best bunch of Park Rangers there you'll ever want to meet. Stop in at the Ranger Station on the way in, say hello, and tell 'em Reid sent you. Ask about the guided swamp walks. You might even see a panther. I did.

The Fakahatchee Strand Board Walk is located on Highway 41. In the cooler months when the water is low is a great time to see wildlife along the boardwalk--especially gators. Bring your camera.

Head to the east along U.S. Highway 41, otherwise known as the Tamiami Trail, for about 37 miles, and you'll come to the Big Cypress National Preserve Oasis Ranger Station. The Florida Trail crosses the road here, and you might want to slog ankle-deep a while along the Trail through the Big Cypress. You can even take the Trail about 35 miles or so all the way up to Interstate 75, but that involves multi-night backpacking and shuttling.

About 19 miles or so east along the Tamiami Trail is the Shark Valley entrance to Everglades National Park. You'll normally see lots of alligators here. A tramway about 7 or 8 miles long extends out into the Great River of Grass. You can walk the tramway, ride a bike, or take the shuttle to the end and view the great River of Grass from a concrete tower about three stories high. Seeing that sight from the tower will help you gain a feel for the Everglades. You'll come to truly understand what Margorie Stoneman-Douglas meant when she called the Everglades "a river of grass."

One activity I always enjoy is a leisurely drive along Loop Road, 27-mile-long spur off the Tamiami Trail, most of which is not paved.

You can also take a drive along the Turner River Road --a dead-end dirt road that runs for about 21 miles to the north. The body of water along the road's east side is not the Turner River, but the Turner River Canal. Often, it's loaded with alligators.

Turner River Road
Turner River Road

The activities described above can fill five or six days if you want them to, plenty to do while you're camped at Collier-Seminole State Park paying relatively cheap state park camping fees. Save more money, by packing your lunch for each day's adventure, since it will be cheaper and more convenient to have food with you than to search out one of the very few restaurants along the Tamiami Trail in these areas.

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