One of the nation’s first established preserves, Big Cypress Swamp encompasses more than 700,000 fresh water acres that support a dizzying array of wildlife, from alligators and great white heron to black bears and the famed Florida panther.
The natural bounty of the swamp attracted American Indian tribes, including the Miccosukee and Seminole, as well as early Spanish settlers.
Following the completion of the Tamiami Trail in 1928, a road that connects Tampa and Miami, loggers moved in to harvest this massive cypress forest. Historians are just beginning to document the contributions of the African Americans who built the road and worked in the sawmills.
Considered by many to be “Florida’s backyard,” the Big Cypress Swamp offers a variety of recreational and educational activities, including ranger walks, hiking, and hunting. Off-road vehicles and airboats allow visitors to explore the park’s depths.
Get oriented at the Oasis Visitor Center, where you’ll find informative displays and educational guides to the history and natural resources of the region.
If You Go
The Florida Trail winds through Big Cypress Swamp. Less ambitious hikers can take a one-mile walk around the Kirby Storter Boardwalk – alone or led by a ranger – and get a closer look at native plants, birds, fish, otters and other wildlife.