Big Cypress Dog Policy
Big Cypress National Preserve is Somewhat Dog Friendly
The Big Cypress Swamp in the Preserve supports nearby Everglades National Park and marine estuaries. This large park supports a variety of plants and wildlife, including the Florida Panther.
Big Cypress National Preserve is a somewhat dog friendly preserve. Dogs are not allowed on trails, but they are allowed in campgrounds, parking areas, picnic areas, and pullouts while on a leash. Do not leave your pet unattended, and be careful of your dog around water, because alligators are common here.
Big Cypress National Preserve participates in the BARK Ranger program, where you can get a special tag for your dog by following best practices (see the BARK Ranger section below).
Dogs are allowed in campgrounds while on a 6' leash. The following campgrounds are first-come, first-served, and allow dogs:
- Bear Island Campground (First come, first served)
- Gator Head Campground (First come, first served)
- Mitchell Landing Campground (First come, first served)
- Pink Jeep Campground
The following campgrounds are reservable ahead of time:
Dogs are allowed in parking lot grassy areas, picnic areas, and at pullouts while on a leash no longer than 6'.
Bark Ranger is a really great program that some National Park Service destinations run. The Bark Ranger program teaches dog owners responsible behaviors with their dogs, and in return you get a special dog tag that’s different for each park (note: some parks require you to purchase the tag at the end). You start the program by going to a park office and picking up a checklist. When you complete the checklist (see the link below for more details), you can get your special dog tag.
B.A.R.K. is an acronym for:
- B: Bag your poop
- Help keep the park clean by bagging and picking up your dog poop, and properly disposing of it. Don’t leave your bagged poop on the side of the trail, hanging from branches, or throw it into the woods. Please note dog poop is not a natural fertilizer — it can carry disease that can spread to wildlife or other dogs.
- A: Always wear a leash
- Dogs must be restrained on a leash no longer than 6'. Retractable leashes that extend beyond 6' are not allowed. Not everyone appreciates a dog running up to them, and many people are scared or allergic to dogs — a leash prevents uncomfortable situations between your dog and others. Leashes also help protect your dog from running off if anything spooks them.
- R: Respect wildlife
- Dogs can chase or scare wildlife such as birds and turtles. They can also damage nesting areas. Some parks have wildlife, such as bears, coyotes, or wolves, that can threaten your dog. Please be respectful of wildlife with your dog, and if you do encounter wildlife, keep dog at distance to protect both your dog and the wildlife.
- K: Know where to go
- Know which trails allow dogs, and which don’t. Don’t leave dogs unattended in vehicles while you go off to hike. See the link below for more details.
For more information on the Bark Ranger program, please see: https://www.nps.gov/bicy/planyourvisit/pets.htm
We also have a list of all parks that run the BARK Ranger program.