If you love the small town atmosphere or fishing, Okeechobee would be a great place for you to visit! It has the biggest lake in Florida that is known for its bass tournaments and scenic farmlands.
The History of Lake Okeechobee:
Lake Okeechobee was most likely formed about 6,000 years ago. The ocean waters receded leaving some water standing in areas on this shallow depression, forming the Florida we know today. The expansive lake that resulted from this process was named Okeechobee. The Seminole Tribe gave the lake this name as the word Okeechobee means "big water". This name is very appropriate since this is the biggest lake in Florida. Historically, the lake served as a direct source of water to the Everglades by way of numerous small tributaries passing out of the lake’s southern end.
There were major changes in south Florida in the 1890’s which led to severe impacts on Lake Okeechobee. There were canals made from the Lake Okeechobee to Lake Hicpochee. Then in the early 1900s, the Everglade’s District made several more canals that led to the northern Everglades all for agricultural purposes.
Then towns were built in this region with some very close to the lake. So a small muck levee was constructed along the southern shore of the lake to protect those towns and farms from flooding. Then in the 1920s two major hurricanes struck south Florida. One of the hurricanes generated a large surge in the lake that flooded coastal areas and hundreds of acres to the south. This resulted in approximately 2,000 deaths.
To prevent this kind of devastation from reoccurring, they built the Herbert Hoover Dike. This is an earthen levee that still surrounds the lake's perimeter today. As a result of the system of canals and levees built by the Army Corp of Engineers, today all discharge into and out of the lake is artificially controlled with the exception of Fisheating Creek.
After the construction of the canals much of the land around Lake Okeechobee was converted to agricultural use. The farms have led to many challenges with the water quality in the lake. Those challenges include things such as increased nitrogen and phosphorus in the water.
Things to do:
The Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail is one fun thing to do. You and your family can hike or bike along the top of the Herbert Hoover Dike. This has a beautiful view of many animals in their natural habitat.
Lake Okeechobee is the second largest freshwater lake in the country and the largest lake in Florida so there is plenty of boating to do. The lake is also arguably the best bass fishing lake in the state.
Not only will you will find some of Florida's most beautiful wild animals in this area, but also other wildlife at Lion Country Safari, an African adventure at the nation's original cage less, drive-through zoo.