Touring Big Cypress by Canoe

Ft. Myers, FL

Big Cypress is a large preserve located just west of Everglades National Park. When Everglades National Park was established in 1947, Big Cypress was originally intended to be included; however, because the land had not been purchased from its private owners, it was ultimately released from the park system.  In 1974 it became the first national preserve in the National Parks System.  One of the most popular activities in Big Cypress, is a four hour canoe trip led by a park ranger.  They only have five canoes and the trip only runs three days a week, so it is difficult to get a reservation.  When we stayed in the Everglades in December we tried to get a spot but the trip was booked for weeks.  So we were please when friends Steve and MonaLiza told us they had reservations with another couple, but the other couple had to cancel.   Great, they had two spots reserved that we could use!

So bright and early Sunday morning the four of us headed south into the Preserve.  We met Ranger Andy at the the Big Cypress Welcome Center and drove a short distance to the boat launch.  After unloading the canoes we put them into the canal and headed south to Half Way Creek.

Steve jumps aboard as he and MonaLiza head to sea

Heading south on a canal

Two intense conoers (canoeists?) looking for wildlife

Meriwether Lewis looks for the Pacific

After about two hours we entered into the Mangrove tunnels, where the creek becomes very narrow and overgrown.

Every so often we would stop and Ranger Andy (happy to be away from his cold home in Wisconsin) would give information about various plants, animals, and birds.  Below he is showing us a plant that attaches itself to trees and requires no roots.  If you have ever had an air fern, this plant is in the same family.

At one point we spotted something very white in the water near the shore.  Andy paddled over and found it to be a dead bird.  A large buzzard waited in the trees above us, probably thinking about a tasty lunch in the near future.

At another point Andy spotted an alligator with a large bucket that appeared to be covering it’s tail.  A closer look revealed that the bucket posed no threat to the gator.  This guy was huge and appeared to be very old (Andy said that, not sure how you tell the old from the middle age).

If we were ever to do this trip again, we would take the seats from our inflatable kayak, as four hours sitting on a metal seat in a canoe can be a bit hard on backs and bottoms.

A good stretch coming out of the mangroves

We are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to take this trip.  Before we came to Big Cypress last month others had highly recommended it, so we were disappointed when we couldn’t get a reservation.  Many thanks to Steve and MonaLiza for sharing this with us!

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19 Responses to Touring Big Cypress by Canoe

  1. rpward51 says:

    That looks like a very interesting tour thru a beautiful area.

  2. Ingrid says:

    Oh how fun. I love to canoe….we used to own one. Hope the weather doesn’t get too cold for you and you’re enjoying FL.

  3. Laurel says:

    Oh, how great that you got to do that trip! We had reservations in early December and cancelled because of a huge thunderstorm. It’s still on our list of things to do. 😉

  4. You are so welcome John and Pam. We enjoyed all our outings. Best of all I will just create a link from ours to yours as you already did the work for us! Thank you.
    See you soon.

  5. pmbweaver says:

    That water looks beautiful. No ripples…I like it that way.

    And I love that Tunnel. WOW…did y’all hit the jackpot with that tour.

    Did Andy have any idea what happened to the duck?

    Paul would have loved seeing that huge gator. Every time we go somewhere where there is suppose to be gators, he always wants to see the biggest one there. Guess that is the kid in him.

    Put on our list…make reservations ahead of time.

  6. That looks like a really neat outing. So fortunate got to go with S & ML!

  7. Deb Dominick says:

    If that was Merriwether Lewis looking for the Pacific, no longer it took them so long to make that trip! Who was in the canoe with him/her? Sacajawea? And how in the heck do you spell that?

  8. allisonmohr says:

    That is a beeeg honkin’ epiphyte in the ranger’s lap. Really glad you were able to do the tour.

  9. RV Cheaper! says:

    awesome post & pics, thanks!

  10. That looks like a lot of fun! Four hours is a long time especially for two people who don’t sit still much!

  11. Dave (& Skruffy) says:

    Wow, what a nice trip that was.

  12. Erin says:

    What great luck … looks like you had a great day for your canoe ride.

  13. Gay says:

    Awesome! What a beautiful place!

  14. Janna says:

    What an awesome opportunity!

  15. Great outing, the Everglades is one of our favorite places!

  16. LuAnn says:

    We are very anxious to visit the Everglades, which is coming up quickly for us. We have signed up for a pole boat tour, at a time of day when the wildlife is supposed to be more active. Hopefully it will be as great a day as yours seemed to be. Hope to meet you both soon! 🙂

  17. Pingback: Good times with friends at Bonita Springs, FL | The Lowe's RV adventures

  18. I really enjoyed this post. We love the Everglades and Big Cypress. We love staying at the national park campground in Flamingo.

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