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Home to the Florida Panther and the Ghost Orchid


The Big Cypress Swamp is an amazing place…

  • A place so flat that mere inches make a difference.

  • A place so large that the name itself – Big Cypress – only hints at the expanse of this ecosystem (more than 2,400 square miles).

  • A place so wild that ghost orchids bloom in splendid isolation and panthers roam the land, rarely seen by people.

The Big Cypress is an amazing place – but it remains a mystery for many.

Cinematographer Elam Stoltzfus, photographer Clyde Butcher and musician Sammy Tedder have created a film that takes viewers deep into the heart of Big Cypress and explains the mystery – and appeal – of this wild place.

The hour-long documentary features stunning images of the Big Cypress and interviews with folks who know and love these “Western Everglades.”

Congress established the Big Cypress National Preserve in 1974 as a national preserve – not a national park – a distinction that allowed traditional activities such as hunting to continue within the preserve’s boundaries.  

The Big Cypress today represents one of the last wild places in Southwest Florida where swamp buggies, airboats, and backcountry camps preserve a traditional way of life established by native peoples and early settlers.

The Big Cypress National Preserve celebrates the region’s history and culture once a year during the Swamp Heritage Festival.

The festival is held on the first weekend in December but you’re welcome to explore Big Cypress any time of year. The Florida Trail winds through Big Cypress. So does the Turner River. Together, they offer some of the best hiking and paddling experiences in South Florida.

Here are some links to get you started on your own Big Cypress adventure: