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Chekika Day Use Area

Chekika Day Use Area Late in March, on our way to another portion of Everglades National Park, my husband and I stopped off at Chekika Day Use Area. We'd been wanting to visit for some time, but Chekika is only open during particular times of the year, and we always seemed to miss the time frame until this trip.

The history of Chekika Day Use Area is pretty wild - a man named Samuel Grossman purchased the land in the early 1900s for farming, but was not successful. Thinking oil might be his road to riches, Grossman had a sample well dug in the late 1940s. Rather than oil, sulfur-laden brackish water sprang forth. Releasing three million gallons a day, the well kept a sulfur lake full of water, and Grossman's Mineral Springs became a recreational hot spot for swimmers.

Lake Chekika is now dry, as the state of Florida purchased the land in 1970 and sealed the well to prevent continued sulfur pollution of the Everglades and the freshwater Biscayne aquifer. All that is left is a grand structure where the well once flowed. Chekika became part of Everglades National Park in 1991.

Near the dry lake is a man-made lake (dug to reinforce the shores of the sulfur lake) that was just SWARMING with alligators - it was incredible! Adults and babies alike flanked the shores. There's also a nice nature path through the woods.

Apparently Chekika experiences seasonal flooding, which is the reason for its odd periods of operation - it's open from December 1 through April 30, and closed May 1 through November 30. Hours during the open period are from dawn to dusk. There is no food or water available here, so bring your own. There are portable restrooms, and picnic pavilions with grills are provided.

While Chekika Day Use Area isn't going to give you a whole day of activity, it's definitely worth a stop, particularly during alligator season!

Location:

24200 SW 160th Street
Miami FL
305-242-7700

Web site:

www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/chekika.htm


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