Geographically, Florida is a fascinating place. It is connected to the states of Georgia and Alabama, and the Atlantic Ocean, the Straits of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico surround it. The state boasts countless idyllic white sand beaches, incredible subtropical wilderness, rich ecosystems, swamps, mangrove islands and miles of breathtaking coastline. For Florida-bound travelers keen on exploring the state's main landforms, visits to national and state parks that display the natural beauty of the Florida landscape are a must.
This article will go over the main landforms in the beautiful state of Florida, in case you are interested in more than just the sunshine and many bodies of water the state has to offer.
Florida's geography and landforms are unlike any other in the country. The Sunshine State has a diverse mix of marshes, springs, swamps, beaches, islands, rivers and lakes. Three landforms exist that, from the view of some geographers, divide Florida into three separate landform regions; they are the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the East Gulf Coastal Plain, and the Florida Uplands.
Essentially, there are four main land areas in the Florida Peninsula, which are each home to specific landforms, flora and fauna. These are the uplands (hilly area), the Florida Everglades (swamp and wetland), the Florida Keys (an archipelago of over 1,500 islands) and the Gulf Coast (coastal plains).
Visit Florida's State and National Parks
The best way to get a feel for Florida's geography and landforms is to visit one of the state's many parks and natural areas. Of course, the Everglades is at the top of this list, along with nearby Big Cypress and the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
Everglades National Park, located in South Florida, protects over 1.5 million acres of wetland, much of which is an important habitat for many rare and endangered species, including the Florida panther, the American crocodile and the manatee. Don’t forget about the alligators, too! It can be tough to know where to begin exploring in this vast tropical wilderness, but there are a few must-do activities: Be sure to explore Cape Sable and Florida Bay by boat and kayak through the Wilderness Waterway, a 100-mile trail through mangroves, rivers, lagoons and bays; don't miss Big Cypress, a giant freshwater swamp and park with plenty of activities to suit every traveler, from bird-watching to biking to canoeing. Finally, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary protects over 10,000 acres of wetlands and old-growth bald-cypress swamp, and it's an amazing sight. For birdwatchers and flower fans, this wild stretch of wetlands is worth a visit: Corkscrew Swamp is run by the National Audubon Society, and it's also one of the only places in the country where you can see a blooming ghost orchid.
Though there are over 170 state parks in Florida, there are a few that stand out: namely, Bahia Honda State Park, Big Lagoon State Park, Sebastian Inlet State Park and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. John Pennekamp is an extraordinary system of protected undersea coral; Sebastian Inlet is situated on a barrier island north of Vero Beach (and provides the perfect spot to kayak in the Indian River Lagoon); Big Lagoon State Park, next to picturesque Perdido Key, is home to both tidal salt marshes and scenic pine flat woods; and, Bahia Honda State Park is routinely recognized as the all-time best beach in the Florida Keys.
North Florida Gems
North Florida, the area that stretches from Pensacola (west), to Jacksonville (east) and Ocala (south), is an ideal part of Florida for camping enthusiasts. You can camp and/or hike on state or national land, and these areas offer natural springs, caves, beaches, forests, marshes and plenty of trails! The panhandle is home to Apalachicola National Forest, which stretches southwest from Tallahassee to the Gulf of Mexico. This forest offers fantastic hiking, backpacking and camping on thousands of acres of public land.