Big Cypress National Preserve is a vast and ecologically diverse area located in southern Florida, adjacent to Everglades National Park. Established in 1974, it spans 729,000 acres of swamps, cypress forests, wet prairies, and other unique habitats. The creation of Big Cypress National Preserve was driven by the desire to protect the delicate ecosystems of the Big Cypress Swamp and the surrounding region from the pressures of development, resource extraction, and urbanization.
The primary difference between Big Cypress and the Everglades National Park is that Big Cypress is predominantly a cypress swamp, while the Everglades are essentially a prairie that becomes submerged each year as Lake Okeechobee overflows, creating a slow, shallow water sheet.
Why Big Cypress National Preserve Was Created:
The establishment of Big Cypress National Preserve aimed to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the Big Cypress Swamp, which serves as a crucial water source for the Everglades and a vital habitat for a diverse range of plant and animal species. The swamp’s freshwater flow is essential for maintaining the health of the Everglades ecosystem, and protecting this area helps ensure the long-term sustainability of both the swamp and the larger surrounding region.
Big Cypress is home to an array of wildlife, including alligators, white-tailed deer, Florida panthers, black bears, and a variety of bird species. Take a leisurely drive along the Loop Road or hike the various trails to spot these creatures in their natural habitats.
For a more adventurous experience, you can explore the preserve’s backcountry areas using off-road vehicles like swamp buggies and ATVs. Be sure to follow the designated trails and obtain the necessary permits.
Stop by one of the visitor centers, such as the Oasis Visitor Center, to gather information, view exhibits, and learn about the preserve’s natural and cultural history.
Remember to respect the preserve’s fragile ecosystem and adhere to Leave No Trace principles. By enjoying the natural beauty of Big Cypress National Preserve responsibly, you can contribute to the preservation of this unique and vital part of Florida’s landscape.
It usually takes around 45 minutes to cruise from the Port of the Islands to the ocean. The journey includes navigating through a long, no-wake zone, canal, providing a delightful and unhurried ride. Bring a cover for sun protection during this slow and scenic route. About half an hour in, you’ll arrive at the expansive and naturally beautiful mangroves before reaching the open waters of the ocean.