Deep in the Heart of Southeast Texas
At first glance, the Big Thicket may seem like any other forest. Take a closer look, however, and you'll discover its many wonders, big and small. Venture into a Big Thicket bog to see thousands of carnivorous plants waiting to feast on insects. Listen for the distant tap-tap-tap of a woodpecker as you stroll through a longleaf pine forest. Search for colorful mushrooms that spring up after summer rains. Paddle along a shaded bayou, beneath hauntingly beautiful bald cypress trees.
These are but a few of the wonders awaiting you in Big Thicket National Preserve.
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Established in 1974, Big Thicket National Preserve protects a biologically significant portion of the Piney Woods of southeast Texas. Explore the unique natural and human history of the Big Thicket in this short film that captures the region's rich story. (Video is open captioned.)
A Biological Crossroads
The Big Thicket is a place where many plant species from the East Coast and Midwest reach the western and southern limits of their ranges. Here, you'll find a mix of different habitats for plants and animals, influenced by subtle changes in soil and elevation.
People of the Big Thicket
Historically, Native American tribes used the Big Thicket for hunting and gathering but did not live within it. Instead, the Caddo lived in the hilly regions to the north while the Atakapa-Ishak lived along the coastal plain to the south of the thicket. The Alabama and Coushatta tribes were the first to settle in the Big Thicket, having moved west from what is now Alabama. Sharing a common history, the two tribes merged, forming the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas; their reservation is adjacent to the preserve.
What is a National Preserve?
National preserves, like national parks, protect important natural and cultural resources. They differ, however, in that national preserves may allow hunting, mining, and fuel extraction, whereas national parks do not. Big Thicket National Preserve permits hunting and oil and gas extraction. NPS staff manage those activities to ensure that they don’t affect the natural values for which the preserve was established.
An Outdoor Recreation Destination
Big Thicket National Preserve has over 113,000 acres of public land for you to explore. With many miles of trails on land and water, hiking and paddling are the best ways to see the park. You can even make it an overnight trip and camp in the backcountry.
Last updated: October 17, 2022