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Alligator Creek

Alligator Creek Preserve

The Alligator Creek Preserve was established in 1987.  It is adjacent to the 45,000+ acre Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.  CHEC is located on property owned by the State of Florida and the Center’s portion is leased to the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center, Inc. for environmental, educational, and recreational activities.  The Alligator Creek Preserve includes four (4+) miles of nature trails.  Volunteers offer interpretive trail walks to the public, free of charge, during "season".  
Scan our QR codes and listen to our audio tours as you walk.  Visit our butterfly and wildflowers gardens, watch the birds from our bird blind; see (at their leisure!) the adult and baby alligators in our alligator pond.   You might see vultures, up close and personal, or an eagle in a tree.  Or wild hogs off in the distance.  Perhaps a bobcat sachaying down a little-used service road.  And more.....

The Caniff Welcome Center


The Caniff Welcome Center, open to the public from October - April, is located at the very end of the driveway boardwalk.  A unique all-wood building on "stilts", its main architectural attraction is a "cupola" from which a large hand-carved wood mobile depicting birds and sea life, hangs.  Outside, there is a wrap-around deck which looks out over an upland eco-system.  Inside once again, you will find small live animals such as Henry, the ball python; Izra,  the skink; Isak, the red rat snake; Daisy, the Russian tortoise, Elon, the Razorback Musk turtle, and Tyrus, the Stinkpot Common Musk turtle.  There are also display cases of very interesting shell, bone and ancient tool artifacts.  Also on display, you can see and read about some of the birds and animals you might find here at our location.  Come see us during "season"!

Butterfly Sanctuary

CHEC's Butterfly Sanctuary is the largest walk-in butterfly enclosure in Charlotte County, and for good reason. This Sanctuary is dedicated to the conservation of our imperiled butterfly friends. As habitat decreases with urbanization and development, it is necessary to safeguard these native species through "raise and release" programs that bolster local populations. Our Sanctuary allows us to engage with guests in an interactive setting, educating visitors about the plight of the pollinators and teaching them about how the pollinators positively affect our community.

Guests who wish to contribute to these conservation efforts can volunteer at the Sanctuary, donate funds to support our program, or plant native nectar and host plants to expand their habitat.  

CHEC will feature a native plant nursery soon, so be on the lookout for "CHEC's Florida Friendly Gardens." Come visit the park, nature misses you.

Bob Isaksen with walking sticks.jpg

The Rose Isaksen Gift Shop

This very special gift shop was made possible by the late Rose Isaksen, who, with her husband Bob, gave tirelessly of their time and resources for over 25 years, as benefactors extraordinaire.  Located in the Caniff Welcome Center, it is full of unique southwest Florida gifts, including handcrafted items from local artists.  The gift shop is open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday from mid-October – April.

Some of the special items for sale include:

  • A variety of informational books and guides on Florida wildlife

  • Fresh, raw local honey - very popular

  • Children’s gifts including stuffed animals, books, t-shirts and other toys

  • Hand-carved wood walking sticks, beautifully crafted, from birch, pine, ash, cherry, beech, mangrove, carrot, and melaleuca trees from both Florida and New Hampshire. Each walking stick is zip code inscribed with the origin of the tree wood, along with the wood type and Charlotte Harbor name - made with love by the late, great Bob Isaksen

  • Handmade birdhouses, butterfly houses & bat houses made of recycled wood, also by Bob Isaksen

  • Hand-made ceramics and small wallets

  • Florida-themed T-shirts of various sizes…youth to adult

  • Beautiful CHEC coffee mugs, ball caps and totes, and other interesting environmentally-themed items.


Friends of CHEC members receive 10% off on CHEC items sold here.  You must show your membership card to receive the discount.

Alligator Dock

Our iconic Alligator Dock was recently re-built from scratch and the improvements are incredible. The addition of a metal roof has made this location a comfortable oasis, noticeably cooler in the shade and protected from afternoon rain clouds. Guests can comfortably enjoy the breeze off the pond as they look out across the cattails at our lounging alligators. There are two commercial grade view finders to help guests enjoy the scenery and they are coin-free. 


Ron Mills Bird Blind

The Ron Mills Bird Blind was recently renovated and like it's namesake, this building loves birds. Enjoy a relaxing sit as you observe our native birds lighting up the natural environment with their array of song and color. There are books and pamphlets that will satisfy any birder, from novice to expert, and a sightings board for you to log your daily finds. Binoculars await under the breeze of the bird blind's ceiling fan and canopied setting. The only thing missing is you.

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