Biscayne National ParkPosted in North America | March 12, 2010 | Comment Now
Most travelers when they hear of a national park in South Florida think of the Everglades. However, within a few miles there is another national park: Biscayne National Park. This park is located along the southeast coast of Florida, just south of Miami. The park is spread over 181,500 acres. The park comprises a section of the mainland and large portions of Biscayne Bay. The barrier islands off the coast, too, are part of the national park.
Biscayne National Park is famous for the blue waters of the bay. The coral reefs and marine life are highlights of the park. There are plenty of sea birds and subtropical vegetation. Trails are present on the islands and the mainland. The park is just 30 miles away from downtown Miami. It comprises the longest shoreline that is undeveloped along Florida’s east coast.
The area of Biscayne was inhabited by the Tequestas Indians before the Spanish arrived. The Indians lived with comfort and ease off the sea coast. They loved the conch to a great extent and left middens, which are still visible at various locations within the park.
Ponce de Leon was the first Spaniard to set foot on Biscayne Bay in 1513. The Tequestas were nearly eliminated in the 1700s by the diseases introduced by the Spanish.
By 1800, the park served as a haven for pirates and buccaneers, including the renowned ‘Black Caesar’. Florida became a part of the United States in 1819. By the 1820s, the pirates were eliminated from the park.
Till the 1800s the park area was used for a variety of purposes. The park is also witness to a gathering of sponges. The islands that comprise the park were under cultivation. However, a large hurricane in 1906 ended this activity to a great deal. This led to rum smuggling. Tourism, too, became a popular industry because of the clear, blue waters.
The 20th century has brought with it many development pressures that have affected most of Florida, especially the Biscayne area. The barrier islands are known for their solitude. This solitude was in danger of being eliminated due to the planned bridge, subdivisions and resorts. In order to protect the park resources, Biscayne Bay was awarded monumental status in 1968. The credit for conservation work should go to Florida Congressman Danta Fascell. The monument acquired more areas, and was converted into a national park in June 1980.
The primary area of the Biscayne National Park is Convoy Point nearly 10 miles west of Homestead. This section of the park also contains a picnic area. There is also a boat dock in addition to a visitor’s center.