Big Cypress National Preserve | BACKCOUNTRY

Big Cypress Zone Map

Big Cypress Zone Map

With only three paved roads and six dirt roads open to vehicles in Big Cypress National Preserve, the large majority of the park is comprised of what is called the “backcountry.” For the typical tourist, access is on foot, bike, or by guided tour on a swamp buggy or ATV. Off-Road Driving is allowed, but a permit is required, and the process and fee are more than most tourists are interested in dealing with. All entrances are gated and can only be opened by permit holders with the gate code. Hikers and bikers can get around the gate through a separate entrance.

In addition to hiking and biking, other backcountry activities include hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Primitive camping is allowed, though regulations vary at each backcountry unit. No pets other than hunting dogs during hunting season are allowed in the backcountry.

Vehicles and bikes must stay on designated trails. Those on foot are free to hike off-trail when the terrain permits. The entire park is flat and there are plenty of open areas. However, hike with caution because there are poisonous snakes and sharp vegetation. I heard a rattlesnake in the tall grass while walking on an established trail, but didn’t stick around long enough to see it.

Entry by any means into the backcountry requires a permit. These are free and can be obtained at kiosks at trailheads, boat ramps, backcountry access roads, hunter check-in stations, and the visitor centers. All you need is a pen or pencil to fill out the multi-copy form on which you provide your personal information, entry date and time, your estimated return time, and the purpose of your adventure (e.g. hike, camp, hunt). Keep one copy with you, stick one in the permit collection box at the kiosk, and place one on the dashboard of your car (all backcountry access areas have parking lots or allow roadside parking). Permits help the National Park Service track which areas are used the most, plus if your car is left overnight the park Rangers will know when you were supposed to have returned, and if this time has long since passed, they know to come looking for you.

You can also download the Backcountry-Permit (PDF) and either fill it out by hand or by using Adobe Acrobat (or an Acrobat browser plug-in). The PDF has two permits, and if you use Acrobat, the second permit fills out automatically as you type information into the first permit. You need three permits, so be sure to print two copies of the PDF and then use scissors to separate the copies.

The backcountry is divided into seven sections. For more information on each, visit the following web pages.

Addition Unit

Bear Island Unit

Corn Dance Unit

Deep Lake Unit

Loop Unit

Stairsteps Unit

Turner River Unit

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Last updated on December 10, 2019
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