Looking For The Real Swampy Florida? Tranquility and Alligators In Arthur R Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge

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Loxahatchee – the name itself seems intriguing. Obviously of Indian origins, it actually means ‘turtle river’ (according to Wikipedia). Well, guess what, the first creature I stumbled upon, as I got to Arthur Marshall’s Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge, was this sunbathing comical little turtle, all stretched out:

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If you are like me, a magnet for swamp angels (aka the common mosquito), then you know that going to any swampy place in South Florida during the summertime is not going to be the most pleasant experience. I genuinely distrust people who say: ‘oh they don’t bother me’. Well, good for you!! They bother me. A lot!


Still, nothing stops me from grabbing any opportunity, to see gators in their natural habitat. Yes, I am a sucker for those scaly, big fanged, silently floating things. I could watch them all day! Let’s face it, they have the art of  ‘chillaxing’ down. You see them mostly sit, float a little, bask a little, cool down a little, and move very little! I have come up with the theory that the only time you see a gator moving faster than a snail is when he is hungry, mating, or defending his territory or a nest.

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What To Do At Arthur Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge

Probably the most obvious activity here. Arthur Loxahatchee is a wonderfully maintained and yet seemingly’ wild’ refuge, showing you the real south Florida how it used to be before we developed it to within an inch of its swampy essence!

The Levee At Arthur LoxahatcheeThe Levee – Great For Walking And Cycling

As walkers, there is only so much you can do and see here, but there are plenty of walking trails, a levee path, a swamp board walk, a visitor center with a somewhat slightly deaf man at the counter (who was extremely lovely), and a butterfly garden.

Walking in Arthur Marshall

If you don’t want to walk too far, here are places to drive to and stop for taking photographs, and there is also a boat-ramp where you see humans, gators, fish and birds all occupying their individual space in the food chain.

If, unlike me, you are into biking, there is a 12 mile biking path for those that are so inclined. I have never been a friend of two-wheeled modes of transportation, mostly  due to the fact that I find it hard to coordinate looking around and staying on a bike at the same time.

However, if you are more skilled than me, there is a trail that runs along the levee next to the the perimeter canal from the boat ramps (by the Visitor Center) to the boat ramps close to the southern entrance of the Refuge.

Kayaking and Canoeing:
There are kayaks and canoes for rent here, and as well as kayaking in the main canal, there is a spectacular canoe and kayak trail. It is quite long (5.5 miles), but if you want to see gators, you best do the whole thing.

Vulture At Arthur MarshallCanoe Trail – A Vulture Waiting For Us At The Half-Way Mark

One time we got tired and gave up half-way into the canoe trail and saw pretty much nothing, as most gators are in the second half of this loop. So keep going!

Arthur Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge
Tranquility At The Wildlife Refuge

If you want to feel raw nature, get lost in the wilderness and the sounds of all the animals, and see some very large gators close by, this is a wonderful place to do it.

Big Alligator Arthur LoxahatcheeBig Gator Boy Chilling Out

Location and Miscellaneous Information

The Refuge, located west of the Boynton Beach/Delray Beach area, is named after Arthur R Marshall (1919-1985), a former biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and later director of applied ecology at the University of Miami. I particularly love this quote by him:

‘All of the rich resources of the Everglades were produced by solar energy operating through its surface sheet flow. The sun is still there’ (Information from the visitor center at the Wildlife Refuge)

Please see here some books for relevant topics on Florida fauna, flora and the Everglades:

Have you been to Arthur Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge? Which activities did you do? Let me know how you like it and whether I have missed anything! I would love to connect.

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