Are you into wild orchids??? About an hour south of Punta Gorda, is a beautiful place called the Corkscrew Sanctuary. In July 2007, the Corkscrew “Super” Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) was discovered. It has been a big attraction each summer since the discovery, as it continues to produce many flowers year after year. This orchid has drawn attention from around the world!! It is the largest ghost orchid discovered so far. The Ghost Orchid has multiple bloomings throughout the summer, as well as a few times during the year. As of July 6th this year, there are at least 12 buds on the orchid, and a couple may be open as early as next week!!
Even if you are not into orchids, you should plan a trip down to this unique place in Florida & take a journey into the heart of the Everglades ecosystem. The sanctuary has a great wheelchair accessible 2.3 mile boardwalk, where you can hike through the largest stand of old-growth cypress on earth. Some of the trees measure more than 135 feet high, and some are nearly 40 feet in circumference! The massive branches are draped with bromeliads, ferns, lichens & mosses.
The Corkscrew Sanctuary is one of the most important breeding grounds for endangered wood storks. It is also home to hundreds of Alligators, Florida Panthers, Bobcats, Turtles, Otters, White-Tailed Deer & the Florida Black Bear. In addition to the 4 legged animals, you will see ALL kinds of exotic birds, including Wading Birds, Songbirds, Raptors & the colorful Painted Bunting (which can be spotted all year long). Every where you look, there is a great photo opportunity!!
The National Audubon Society has been managing the Corkscrew Swamp since 1912, and actually acquired it in 1954. The 13,000 acre swamp encompasses 315 square miles. The Corkscrew name comes from a twisty river that once flowed into the Gulf of Mexico and is a gateway to the western Everglades. It is open every day of the year from 7am – 5:30pm. There are plenty of benches and rain shelters along the boardwalk, and much of the route is shaded. There is also an excellent gift shop to stop at either before you take your hike, or after you get back.
Do you love native Florida? Put this on your list of things to see! You will be happy you did!
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