Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve information
The 1139-sq-mile Big Cypress Preserve (named for the size of the park, not its trees) is the result of a compromise between environmentalists, cattle ranchers and oil-and-gas explorers. The area is integral to the Everglades’ ecosystem: rains that flood the Preserve’s prairies and wetlands slowly filter down through the Glades. About 45% of the cypress swamp (actually mangrove islands, hardwood hammocks, orchid flowers, slash pine, prairies and marshes) is protected. Great bald cypress trees are nearly gone, thanks to pre-Preserve lumbering, but dwarf pond cypress trees fill the area with their own understated beauty. The helpful Oasis Visitor Center , about 20 miles west of Shark Valley, has great exhibits for the kids and a water-filled ditch that's popular with alligators.