National Park
 of the Week
  Outdoor gear
Big Thicket National Preserve
Home National Park Directory Camping Store Travel Resources Contact Us
Big Thicket National Preserve

Big Thicket National Preserve is known as a "biological crossroads of North America" for the remarkable co-existence of diverse wildlife found within its borders. The National Preserve is a biological and botanical wonder located in the southeastern corner of Texas and near the Gulf of Mexico. In 1981, it was designated International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The American Bird Conservancy recognized the Preserve as a Globally Important Bird Area in 2001. Today, these designations attract bird watchers and other biological travelers from all around the world.

The Big Thicket was once part of a four million acre area of tall longleaf pines and savannas, interspersed with a rich hardwood bottomland forest. The magnificent 120-foot tall Longleaf Pine trees provided much of the wood products for a growing nation. Today only 3% of the longleaf pine in the nation still exists. Longleaf pine is the prime habitat for the endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker: currently there are no known nesting pairs in the Preserve due to the lack of suitable habitat.

Today, the National Preserve only protects 97,000 acres of this area that once stretched from present day Houston to portions of western Louisiana.

What is so extraordinary is not the rarity or abundance of its life forms, but how many species coexist here in its combination of southeastern swamps, eastern forests, central plains, and southwest deserts. For example, bogs sit near arid sandhills and eastern bluebirds nest near roadrunners. There are more than 100 trees and shrubs species, which provide habitat to a diverse array of wildlife, including 300 migratory and nesting bird species; over 1,000 flowering plants, including 26 ferns and allies, 20 orchids and four of North America's five types of insect-eating plants. Fifty reptile species include a small, rarely seen population of alligators and snapping turtles. Amphibious frogs and toads abound.

DID YOU KNOW

  • The Preserve is composed of tracts scattered among seven counties in eastern Texas.
  • The Preserve irregular boundary is double that of Yellowstone National Park.
  • Approximately 80 miles of the Neches River, the last major free flowing river in Texas, is contained within the Preserve.
  • Although snake bites are extremely rare, every kind of poisonous snake found in the U.S. can be found here - copperhead, cottonmouth, rattlesnake and coral snake.
  • The last reported sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker took place in Big Thicket in 1971. The bird is now considered extinct.
  • Hunting and trapping are allowed within several areas included in the Preserve.

ATTRACTIONS IN THE BIG THICKET NATIONAL PRESERVE

  • Hiking is available year-round, though it is warm and humid during the summer months. Wildflower viewing is best from March to October.
  • Boating, canoeing, fishing can be enjoyed from April to October. Hunting in specific areas is authorized by a Preserve-issued permit, accompanied by a valid State of Texas Hunting License, from October to mid-January.
  • Bragg Road, now known as the Ghost Light Road, is associated with several tales about a ghostly light. Is it the railroad worker who was decapitated in a train wreck searching for his head? Is it a gaseous substance like scientists believe? Or is it a hunter who got lost years ago searching for a way out of the Thicket? Visit Big Thicket and discover the answer.
  • Birding activities in the Big Thicket are optimum in the month of April. The Kountze Chamber of Commerce schedules events tours and workshops every April. For more information call 1-866-4Kountz (1-866-456-8689).

ATTRACTIONS NEARBY IN TEXAS

  • Sea Rim State Park - Explore the shores of the Gulf of Mexico at this 15,109 acre park. Beach area offers sandy beaches for swimming, boardwalk nature trail, observation deck, restrooms with showers, snack bar (summer only), an Interpretive Center and camping area. Marshland area has boat ramps, observation platforms and blinds, canoeing and air boat tours.
  • Village Creek State Park is only 12 miles north of Beaumont (preserve headquarters). The 942-acre park includes RV, tent and picnic sites, open-air pavilion, playground, canoe launch, hiking trails and a swimming sandbar on Village Creek
  • The McFaddin and Texas Point National Wildlife Refuges are located on the upper Texas Coast. The two refuges supply important feeding and resting areas for migrating and wintering populations of waterfowl.
  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve was established to preserve significant examples of the rich natural and cultural resources of Louisiana's Mississippi Delta region.

   
National Park Service Photos
 
Cypress Loop on Kirby Nature Trail in the Turkey Creek area
 
 
Woodland Trail Lake in the Big Sandy area
 
 
Canoeing on Village Creek
 
 

Big Thicket Information:
 
 
Beaumont, TX 77701
National Preserve Web Site

Big Thicket Visitor Center
(409) 246-2337

Park Map (PDF)

 
 
State Tourism Information:
 
   
 
Recommended Reading:
 
   
Outdoor gear
 National Park
 of the Week
www.national-park-of-the-week.com