Big Cypress preserves 729,000 acres of swamp that is essential to the Everglades and the marine estuaries of the southwest Florida coast. It was the country’s first national preserve, established in 1974. It continues to host abundant cypress trees despite substantial logging in the 1950s. It also protects the Florida Panther, with only approximately 100 of them remaining in the wild.
Big Cypress is located north of the park boundary for Everglades National Park. The southern section below Tamiami Trail is located west of the Shark Valley section of the Everglades and east of Ten Thousand Islands.
The Oasis Visitor Center along Tamiami Trail was built in the 1960a and once a private airport. Later it was converted into a service station before being purcahsed by the National Park Service in the 1980s for its visitor center. The building once had a passenger plane mounted on its roof.
The Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center is along the Tamiami Trail approximately five miles east of State Road 29 on the Tamiami Trail. It was dedicated in 2010 and is an interagency center for all public lands within the swamp.
Big Cypress Loop Road – This is a 24 mile scenic drive (mostly gravel) that begins at Monroe Station along Tamiami Trail and travels south and then east to Pinecrest and the 40 Mile Bend. The Monroe Station entrance is four miles west of Oasis Visitor Center and 15 miles east of Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center.
Turner River / Wagonwheel / Birdon Roads Loop – This 16.4 mile loop starts at the HP Williams Roadside Park and travels north from Tamiami Trail. The roads were created in the 1950s and the “borrowing” canals along the roads now provide habitat for wildlife when water is scarce in the area. In addition to wading birds, the American alligator is a common resident of the area.
Florida National Scenic Trail – The southernmost sections of the 1400 mile scenic trail lie within the national preserve and end at Oasis Visitor Center, where there is a plaque marking its Southern Terminus. On the northern end, the scenic trail stops at Gulf Islands National Seashore. In the park, there is a section above I-75, and a section below I-75. The trail north of the park travels through the Seminole Reservation and is limited to a few hikers each month who are members of the Florida Trail Association.
Big Cypress Camping – There are eight frontcountry campgrounds, one of which is dedicated to group camping only.