The Green Swamp Experience:

by on September 10th, 2010
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Have you ever wanted to enjoy a nice relaxing vacation in the middle of Florida? Try the Green Swamp. Don’t let the name fool you, there really isn’t a whole lot of standing water in this area, but there is a whole lot of isolation. To top it off, it’s right in the middle of the state, between Tampa and Orlando, making it a great base camp for any kind of day trip activity that catches your fancy.

The Swamp

The Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve is the headwaters for four different river systems in Florida. It’s a great natural resource as a pressure head for Florida’s water aquifer system. This is great for the water supply of Florida, but it also makes a large swath of land that is protected and available for responsible enjoyment. The 560,000 acres of wilderness, wetlands and cypress ponds house many types of flora and fauna and makes a great place for bird watching. The Florida National Scenic Trail, a 1400 mile trail system, meanders through this area and is a must do activity. Other common activities are paddling, horse riding, biking, fishing and of course camping.

Camping in the swamp is easily one of the greatest highlights of Central Florida. There are backcountry opportunities for those interested in a real getaway, but even the more common sites like Ashley and Cumpressco campsites of the West Tract, where you can drive right in and park, are often wide open. Spanish moss hanging from the trees above, wide open spaces and isolation is what you can expect at even the more popular sites. You will need to be prepared to bring in your own drinking water, but that’s a worthwhile price for the peace and quiet.

Baseball

No, you don’t have to go to any baseball parks to make the Green Swamp a worthwhile visit. However, all of you baseball fans will be pleased to hear that it is within 50 miles of 6 different Grapefruit League stadiums. The closest one is Lakeland’s Joker Marchant stadium, home of the Flying Tigers single A team and Spring Training home of the Detroit Tigers. It’s about a half hour drive, depending on the location of your basecamp. The Orlando area is home to the affiliates of the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves. The Tampa/Clearwater area is home to the affiliates of the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays. No matter who your favorite club is, you’re bound to find a memorable baseball experience.

The minor league games are a lot of fun, but if you can go during Spring training, you will get the best of both worlds. You’ll have the intimate feel of a smaller ballpark and get to see the stars of the big leagues. Last year, my wife and I saw the Detroit Tigers host the Boston Red Sox with Cy Young award winner, Justin Verlander, on the mound. It was a big and exciting game and we had the Cumpressco campsite all to ourselves. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Oh yeah…did I mention that it was free to camp in most places? That’s right; we had the best Spring break of our lives and didn’t have to pay a dime for the campsite. You will need to make a free reservation ahead of time, but it’s a piece of cake and a memory that will last a lifetime.


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