Things to see
Cypress trees sprout curious
Appendages called knees. They are believed to help stabilize the parent tree in swamp environments.
The solitary Florida panther ranges throughout a wide territory, going wherever it finds prey. Although it prefers drier forests it uses cypress stands as well.
Mature Cypress Trees
Most of the cypress trees in Big Cypress were logged half a century ago. The mature trees remaining may be hundreds of years old.
As the dry season advances, gators migrate to deeper water, like that found in deepest reaches of cypress stands.
Great egrets are colony nesters and like to build their rookeries in cypress stands. Adult birds are often seen flying to and from nests.
Bromeliads use trees for support, not for nourishment. They feed by collecting rainwater and plant and animal debris.
Roosting in cypress strands at night, by day wood storks soar aloft searching for groups of feeding wading birds to join.
Rare and unusual orchids inhabit the swamp. Their intriguing shape and scent attract insect pollinators.
Things to Do
birds, alligators and fish from wildlife observation platforms located at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center, H. P Williams Roadside Park and the Oasis Visitor Center.
View the many habitats of Big Cypress and immerse yourself in a cypress strand on the one-mile round-trip Kirby Store Boardwalk.
Bear Island Grade, Loop Road and the Turner River-Birdon Road Loop are great for bicycling. Mountain bikes are recommended.
The Oasis Visitor Center and the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center are open daily, from 9-4:30 pm. Closed December 25. A film, wildlife viewing educational materials and backcountry trails are available.
View wildlife in subtropical habitats from your vehicle along the Turner River-Birdon Road Loop or the Loop Road
Check with the visitor center for further information.
The Florida National Scenic Trail offers backpacking adventures. While Fire Prairie and Gator Hook trails are moderate day hikes.
Off-roading enthusiasts can explore a vast backcountry in the Preserve. Swamp buggy, airboat, ATV, and 4x4 users must have valid permits and follow regulations.
Turner River Canoe Trail is only fro non-motorized vessels. When water levels are low, the Halfway Creek Trail is a good option.
Auto collisions are the primary cause of Florida panther deaths. Follow posted speed limits and save wildlife.
Leave no trace, pack out all trash. Leave the national preserve cleaner than how you found it.
Pets must be leashed (six feet or less). Pets are only allowed in parking areas and campsites. Pick up all waste.
Camp only in designated areas. Camping is not permitted in parking areas within the national preserve.
No swimming, Keep pets away from open waters. Be aware of alligators residing in most national preserve waters.
Observe wild animals respectfully; never attempt to feed or approach them.
Fishing is not permitted in posted areas, including Oasis Visitor Center and H. P. Williams Roadside Park.
All Preserve plants and animals are protected and should be left to be enjoyed by all visitors.
Leave trips plans and the National Park Service emergency number with someone who can call if you miss your expected return date.
Be prepared by bring water, food, insect repellent, sturdy shoes, compass, GPS unit and protection from the sun.
Cell phone coverage is spotty. Do not rely on their use alone in case of emergency.
Protect valuables, carry them with you or keep them locked away and out of view.
Avoid attracting wildlife by storing and disposing
of food properly.
Respect private property within the national preserve.
Be aware of changing weather conditions, especially during summer months.
24-hours Emergency Dispatch 800-788-0511
Permits are required for backcountry use. All hunters checkin and out at wildlife check stations.