Blue Cypress Recreation Area A Sure Bet!
If you’ve never enjoyed an airboat tour through the Blue Cypress Recreation Area you’re in for what most first-timers consider a treat that far exceeds their expectations. This is no swamp and, oh the things you’ll see! The beauty of this area is the interesting result of the intentional flooding of what used to be wetlands and farm property used for everything from sugarcane and citrus to cattle ranching and horse racing dating back to the 1890’s.
When you tour the 2,800 acres of the freshwater marshlands, you are gliding across what locals refer to as the Garcia ranch. Manny Garcia, a Vero man rumored to have enjoyed the occasional horse racing bet, once raised cattle and horses there and even built a race track. Today most tour guides will take you across parts of that track and point it out.
The Blue Cypress Recreation Area, located l.15 miles north of SR 60 on CR 512, is the headwaters of Florida’s longest river flowing over 300 miles north to Jacksonville. In the late 1970’s the St. Johns River Water Management District began efforts to reclaim and restore water to the original wetlands to reduce flooding and create habitat for scores of wildlife including the endangered snail kite. Among the first of its many land purchases was the Garcia Tract. The restoration project also improved water quality and reduced diversions of fresh water into the Indian River Lagoon.
Today the sure bet at Blue Cypress Recreation Area is an awesome Florida wildlife experience. The area is teeming with stunning flora and fauna. In addition to the Snail Kite, the Blue Cypress Recreation Area is home to blue herons, white ibis, snowy egrets, limpkins and night herons. Other species include wood storks, ospreys, bald eagles and the exciting American alligator which can be seen year-round. The restoration project also made way for the return of lush vegetation, aquatic plants and lily pads. Plant lovers will discover expansive fields of water hyacinth, majestic cypress trees, assorted water lilies and lotus flowers, bur marigold and many more.
Come take the ultimate eco-tour of a part of Florida you’ve never seen and you’ll never want to leave. When you step aboard the Marsh Beast you are guaranteed not only a thrilling airboat ride but also a rich educational experience that will enhance your appreciation for and understanding of our natural surroundings.