The winter dry months are a great time to get outside, explore natural Florida and discover the interesting landscapes and wildlife of the Big Cypress. Staff at Big Cypress National Preserve have arranged a number of free opportunities for the whole family to enjoy, from guided canoe trips and swamp walks, to festivals and star gazing. Programs and activities begin November 22 and go through April of 2016. For information on programs go to – www.nps.gov/bicy/planyourvisit/ranger-led-activities.htm or call one of the national preserve visitor centers at 239-695-1201 or 4758. Due to popularity some activities may require advance reservations, check out the complete ranger-led activity schedule on our website for details.
Highlights of activities through April include:
– The 5th annual Big Cypress Swamp Heritage Festival, Saturday, December 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. Held annually on the first Saturday of December on the grounds of the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center, 33000 Tamimai Trail East, Ochopee, FL. Enjoy regional music, food, informational presentations and exhibits. This years keynote presenters are author Carl Hiassen and photographer Clyde Butcher.
– Big Cypress Star Parties, Saturdays December 5, January 9, February 6 and March 5. Starting at 8:00 p.m. on the grounds of the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center. Through the cooperation of partner astronomical societies, explore the celestial sky and one of the darkest night skies on the eastern U. S. coast.
– Ranger-led Tamiami Trail Triathlon, Sundays December 20, January 24, February 21, or March 6th. For reservations call, 239-695-3311. Hike three miles of trail from the Oasis Visitor Center, and in Everglades National Park bicycle the 15-mile loop at Shark Valley, and paddle roundtrip from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center to Sandfly Island. Complete all three activities and earn the title “Tamiami Trail Triathlon Finisher.” Bring your own bicycle, canoe/kayak, or rent one. For more information on doing the activities on your own go to
– Big Work at Big Cypress an exhibit featuring former artist in residence Patricia Cummins. This exhibit reflects the artist’s interaction and interpretation of the landscapes of the Big Cypress. Cummins’ pastel and oil paintings aim to connect the viewer to the deeper beauty of this unique landscape. An artist reception, along with a special viewing of second generation wildlife filmmaker Richard Kern’s Ghost of the Western Glades, will be held at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center, 33000 Tamimai Trail East, Ochopee, FL on Saturday, December 12 at 2:00 p.m.
– Fire Prairie Trail Bike Ride, Saturdays January 16, February 13, and March 12, at 10:00 a.m. (around 4 hours). Ride on a raised trail over moderate terrain. Bring your bicycle, water, food, and sun protection. Meet a park ranger at the Fire Prairie Trail access point along Turner River Road 14 miles north of U.S. 41. Reservations required call 239-695-4758.
2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the agency that cares for special places set aside by the American people so that everyone can experience our heritage. Learn more at – findyourpark.com/