Camping in Big Cypress National Preserve

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By: Jennifer Agress

Camping in Big Cypress National Park

Big Cypress National Preserve was the first national preserve established in the United States. It is bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island, encompassing five major habitats: cypress swamps, marl prairies, pinelands, hardwood hammocks and estuaries. Nearly one million visitors come to the preserve every year to hike, go on an airboat tour, canoe or kayak, do some bird watching, see unique wildlife (like alligators and Florida panthers), stargaze and camp. 

With all these activities and environments at visitors’ disposal, Big Cypress National Preserve is a popular place for traditional or backcountry camping. Grab your tent, pack up your RV or simply bring a backpack and a sleeping bag, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Mother Nature. 

Campgrounds Accessible by Car or RV

Big Cypress National Preserve has six campgrounds that are accessible by car or RV:

Bear Island: This campground has 40 tent and RV sites. It is located at the end of a 20-mile secondary gravel road. There are vault toilets onsite, but no water hookups. 

Burns Lake: This campground has 15 tent and RV sites, day-use picnic areas and backcountry access parking. There are vault toilets onsite, but no water hookups. 

Midway: This campground has 10 tent and 26 RV sites, a dump station, restrooms, drinking water and a day-use area. RV sites offer access to electric hookups. 

Mitchell Landing: This campground has 11 tent and RV sites. It is located along a secondary gravel road. There are vault toilets onsite, but no water hookups. 

Monument Lake: This campground has 10 tent and 26 RV sites, restrooms, drinking water and a day-use area. There are no hookups for electricity, water or sewage. 

Pinecrest: This campground is reserved for group camping only. It sits along a secondary gravel road. There are four tent sites that can accommodate eight tents and 15 people. There are no water hookups or restroom facilities.

Backcountry (Wilderness) Campgrounds 

Spread across 729,000 acres of wetland, Big Cypress National Preserve is made up of miles of trails and wild areas. There are two backcountry campgrounds in the Bear Island Unit area, Pink Jeep and Gator Head that can only be accessed by hiking or on fat-tire bikes or off-road vehicles. As a general rule, backcountry camping is not allowed within half a mile of developed areas or county or state roads. 

Both Pink Jeep and Gator Head campgrounds have nine tent sites. There are vault toilets onsite but no water hookups. 

Backcountry permits are required for all campers. Backcountry permits are free and can be completed online. Find out more about getting a backcountry permit

Off-road vehicle permits are required for those accessing the campground by off-road vehicle. Find out more about getting an off-road vehicle permit

Things to Do

There are plenty of outdoor activities for campers throughout the preserve, including fishing, biking, boating, picnic areas, hiking, hunting, bird watching, kayaking and canoeing. 

Reservations & Visitor Information

Big Cypress National Preserve welcomes campers to stay in traditional campgrounds for up to 180 days a year. No one is allowed to camp in the open backcountry areas for more than 30 days each year. 

Contact the preserve's visitor centers, or stop in for more information on camping, activities and fees.

Read More:

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