What could be better than a winter vacation in Florida? An RV winter vacation in Florida! And the perfect place to go for solitude, wildlife and paddling extraordinaire is Big Cypress National Preserve. This is a spot that provides the ideal mixture of tropical and temperate climates and gives visitors scenic wonders beyond compare. The preserve is open all year.
There are two RV campgrounds in Big Cypress. Midway Campground is open all year, has a dump station and allows for electrical hookup. There are 26 sites for RVs and they are all first come, first served. Monument Lake Campground is open from August to April. This campground has no hookups available but has drinking water and restrooms.
Scenic driving is probably the best way to spend the majority of your time when you visit the preserve. The routes you can take will get you around to all the best places to see wildlife, with a number of scenic pull-offs. The 27-mile Loop Road allows you to travel through pine forests with dwarf cypress and tons of birds and animals. The Turner River / Wagonwheel / Birdon Roads Loop will require a pair of binoculars as you won’t want to miss seeing all the wading birds coming to feed.
Many who come to Big Cypress National Preserve do so to engage in hiking activities. The Florida National Scenic Trail is one of the best trails to experience. Although it travels 1400 miles across the state, there are three portions within the preserve. You can see many types of habitats, from the forest stands to prairies and grasslands.
If you want an easier adventure, you may wish to walk the Kirby Storter Boardwalk. This is ideal for those with young children. Getting outdoors and being close to these lovely swamplands and marshes is something you really can’t experience anywhere else. Other hiking trails crisscross the preserve, allowing you to get the most out of your visit.
Historic and controversial Alligator Alley must be seen to be believed. This is also known as Interstate 75 and actually runs east to west across South Florida. Along the section within the preserve, you will see all sorts of bird life and, of course, plenty of alligators. One common bird to the preserve is the anhinga, never seen outside of Florida.
Canoeing trails are perfect for some paddling fun. The shorter trails are good for beginners, at about three to five hours per trip. The Lefthand Turner River Paddling Trail is an easy to moderate trail which is great for newbies to paddling. The Sandfly Island Loop Paddling Trail should be paddled with the incoming or outgoing tides so you aren’t fighting the currents. If you go at the wrong time you should add on another hour of paddling time.
More difficult paddling trails are the Turner River Paddling Trail and the Halfway Creek and Halfway Creek Loop Paddling Trails. These require more time. However both give you the opportunity to see intertidal and coastal mangrove forests. Be sure to bring a camera. But watch for wakes from speedboats, as these can tip over your canoe.
What a perfect time to visit Big Cypress National Preserve – in winter months when the cold winds are blowing up north. Enjoy!