| Places to photograph; best time
of day/year to shoot; tips about shooting there:
As with any place in the Everglades, the best locations to
shoot in Big Cypress National Preserve are accessible only with
a boat. There are plenty of places in the area to rent airboats
However, alternatives are available to photograph from dry
· The park allows four-wheel-drive access in some areas,
but you need a permit to do it. Your vehicle will have to pass
inspection. Stop at the Visitor's Center to speak to a ranger
· Alligators are obviously one of the main photographic
attractions in the park. Several can always be found in the
waters just outside the Visitor's Center. However, lots of people
with point-and-shoots are usually found there, too, making it
sometimes hard to work in peace.
· Get a map that has the old Route 41 on it, now called
Route 94. The road leaves Route 41 and rejoins it about 25 miles
later, providing a loop through some little-visited areas in
the preserve. It's pretty wild back-country. Most of the road
is gravel, but in dry weather it's good enough for 2-wheel drive
cars. The road passes through groves of cypress and mangrove,
and also through much wetland. The waters in this section of
the park are usually teeming with alligators. But if you don't
see alligators in a section, then look for otters, which also
inhabit the area but won't be seen when the predators are nearby.
Avoid this road at night; if you get stuck, you're not likely
to see a passing motorist until well into the next morning,
and you probably won't want to be walking around there in the
· Hiking trails will bring you to more remote areas
of the preserve, but you need to file a permit to use them.
You can also camp in the open preserve, but ditto on the permit.
The trails are the best way to photograph landscapes, and camping
out will give you easier access for morning and evening shooting.
· Other opportunities for wildlife photos include turtles,
panthers (very rare to find, but they're there), butterflies,
deer and scores of birds (including egrets, herons, kites, storks,
osprey, owls, hawks and bald eagles). Bring a long lens.
Full-grown alligators are easy to find. Babies can be more
difficult, but they're also more dangerous to come across
a mother gator will aggressively protect her young. Juvenile
alligators stay with their mother for up to four years, so if
you find them, you'll find them in bunches. Just be sure to
use a long lens and be prepared to back off.
Weather is nice in fall, winter and spring, but brutally hot
from mid-May to mid-September. Also, in summer expect an afternoon
rainstorm every day.
Bring your own food and lots of water. The only nearby places
to buy food and drinks are Everglades City (take I-41 to Route
29 South) and a small mom-and-pop eatery on I-41 west of the
preserve. East of the preserve, Shark Valley Visitor Center
in Everglades National Park has vending machines for snacks,
soda and bottled water, and there's also a water fountain. Fresh
water can also be obtained at the preserve Visitor's Center.
Other noteworthy places in the general area:
· Everglades National Park
· Ten Thousand Islands Aquatic Preserve