Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve

Quick Facts

Big Cypress National Preserve

Florida

(239) 695-1201

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

The freshwaters of the Big Cypress Swamp, essential to the health of the neighboring Everglades, support the rich marine estuaries along Florida's southwest coast. Protecting over 720,000 acres of this vast swamp, Big Cypress National Preserve contains a mixture of tropical and temperate plant communities that are home to a diversity of wildlife, including the elusive Florida panther.

Visitors will find a recreational paradise with camping, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, OHV trails, hunting and birdwatching opportunities. Those passing through may be enticed to linger in this remnant of wild Florida to search for evidence of the elusive Florida panther or to watch an endangered woodstork feeding along a roadside canal.

There are two visitor centers within the Preserve. Both are open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed on December 25.

Map of Big Cypress

Latitude, Longitude: 25.893000, -81.321673

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Activities

  • Boating

    Five creek, river, and bay paddling trips will be well worth the time you take to prepare. The paddling routes range in time from three to seven hours. Intermediate canoe paddling or kayaking skills are required. Turner River Paddling Trail, Halfway Creek and Halfway Creek Loop Paddling Trails, Lefthand Turner River Paddling Trail and Sandfly Island Loop Paddling Trail are nice day trips. Call the NPS offices to get the current water and weather conditions. There are many nearby boat rental companies. There are also other paddling routes in nearby protected natural areas. From the NPS Gulf District Ranger Station in Everglades City, there is access to the 99-mile long Wilderness Waterway, which requires 7-10 nights of camping. You may also want to explore various trails and routes on the Paradise Coast Blueway.

  • Bicycling

    Trails suitable for mountain bicycles can be found in the northern portion of the Preserve. Check at the visitor center for details.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    There are two popular scenic drives within Big Cypress National Preserve. One is the 27 mile Loop Road that travels through dwarf cypress forest, pine forests and deep strands. The other is the 17 mile Turner River / Wagonwheel / Birdon Roads Loop. This drive takes you by open prairies and popular wading bird feeding areas. Off-road vehicle (ORV) operation within the authorized speed limit on designated trails for hunting, fishing, frogging, camping, wildlife observation, transportation to private property, and other traditional nature based activities is consistent with the Big Cypress National Preserve enabling legislation and the Addition Act, and are authorized in the Preserve. Permits are required. Maps, in both paper and GPS formats, are available on the park website.

  • Camping

    Campgrounds may close seasonally, temporarily for repairs or for resource concerns. Contact the Oasis Visitor Center at 239-695-1201 for campground availability and information on closures. All campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Bear Island Campground, Midway Campground, Pinecrest Campground and Mitchell's Landing Campground are open year-round. Burns Lake Campground is open August 29 through January 6. Monument Lake Campground is open August 28 through April 15. Some sites require an ORV permit for access and others have fees associated with the sites.

  • Fishing

    Fishing and frogging is allowed at the preserve. Check with the park office for details on seasons and regulations.

  • Hiking

    Hiking within Big Cypress can be along designated trails, or orienteering through unmarked territory. The southernmost sections of the Florida National Scenic Trail lie within the Preserve: Loop Road to Highway 41 - approximately 6.5 miles one way; Highway 41 to Interstate 75 - approximately 28 miles one way; Interstate 75 to Preserve North Boundary - approximately 8 miles one way. Hikers should be prepared for conditions depending on the season. The dry season provides the most comfortable hiking conditions. The wet season has its unique challenges, and hikers should be prepared for tromping through water that in places can be waist deep. During either season rewards can be many - quietly watching an otter eat a fish, feeling the wind rustling your hair, discovering tropical blooms or happening upon a bear track. Hiking maps are available in GPS formats on the website.

  • Hunting

    A long-established recreational activity in the area, hunters were instrumental in protecting this corner of remote, wild Florida. Hunting activities continue today and include seasons for archery, muzzle loading and general gun. Typical game species are white-tailed deer, turkey and hogs. Alligator hunting is not allowed. Hunting within the preserve is managed cooperatively between the National Park Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. For up-to-date hunting regulations related to the Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area visit the park website.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    Nearly impossible to reach by foot, generations explored remote areas of the preserve by homemade airboats or swamp buggies. Today, people enjoy this traditional activity along an extensive trail system by obtaining permits for a variety of allowed vehicles. Be sure to check with the park for regulations and rules regarding OHV driving.

  • Picnicking

    Depending on the season, picnicking is a fun family activity at the preserve.

  • Water Sports

    Nearly impossible to reach by foot, generations explored remote areas of the preserve by homemade airboats or swamp buggies. Today, people enjoy this traditional activity along an extensive trail system by obtaining permits for a variety of allowed vehicles. Off-road vehicle (ORV) operation within the authorized speed limit on designated trails for hunting, fishing, frogging, camping, wildlife observation, transportation to private property, and other traditional nature based activities is consistent with the Big Cypress National Preserve enabling legislation and the Addition Act, and are authorized in the Preserve.

  • Wildlife Watching

    The Big Cypress National Preserve is home to many mammals, birds, and reptiles unique to Florida's climate. It is easy to view and appreciate Florida's largest reptile, the American alligator, living here in its natural environment. Anhingas, egrets, and herons are found in plentiful numbers feeding, displaying courtship feathers, and nesting in and among the Cypress trees. Occasionally, one can witness river otter, bobcats, black bear, and the endangered Florida panther on the Preserves' back roads and trails.

Seasonality/Weather

South Florida experiences two main seasons - the rainy season from May to October, and dry season from November through April. The rainy season coincides with the tropical hurricane season. This time of year can be hot, muggy and buggy. Daily rains typically occur in the afternoon. For the prepared it is a good time to see dramatic storms and beautiful flowering plants. The dry season has cool, dry days that tend to be breezy.

Park Partners

The Everglades Association

The Everglades Association is the official private, non-profit partner supporting educational, interpretive, and historical and scientific research responsibilities of Biscayne, Dry Tortugas, and Everglades National Parks and Big Cypress National Preserve. Sales profits are returned to the parks to further support their programs to increase public understanding of and support for their long term preservation and care.

(305) 247-1216

Directions

Driving

Big Cypress National Preserve is located in Southwest Florida between the cities of Miami and Naples. Interstate 75 (Alligator Alley) and U.S. Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail) are the main roads that traverse the site. Visitor facilities and most activities originate from the Tamiami Trail.

The Oasis Visitor Center is located 52105 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL 34141. The facility is midway between Miami and Naples along the Tamiami Trail.

The Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center is an interagency center for all public lands within the Big Cypress Swamp. It is located at 33000 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL 34141. The center is approximately 5 miles east of State Road 29 on the Tamiami Trail.

Preserve Headquarters is located near Naples and Everglades City, along U. S. 41, 5 miles east of the State Road 29 intersection.

Flying

Airports, bus terminals and car rental is available in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers and Naples.

Public Transportation

Due to the distance from major urban areas, there is no public transportation to the Preserve.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(239) 695-1201

Links