The term "Big Thicket" refers to a large expanse of woodlands, wetlands, and waterways that once covered over 3 million acres of southeast Texas. Today, Big Thicket National Preserve protects over 113,000 acres spread over 7 counties. A convergence of ecological influences here has created an area rich in biological diversity, with 9 ecosystems providing habitats for a variety of species.
What Can I Do Here?
The best place to start your visit is by exploring the exhibits and watching the 15-minute movie on the Big Thicket at the preserve visitor center. Kids of all ages can pick up a free Junior Ranger booklet and complete fun, easy activities to earn a Junior Ranger badge.
Roads connect the widely-spaced units of the preserve, but there are no scenic drives through the heart of the Big Thicket. Walking and paddling are the best ways to experience this place. Forty miles of hiking trails and many miles of waterways wind through the preserve. Backcountry camping is allowed in many parts of the preserve, from forests to sandbars along Village Creek and the Neches River. A free camping permit is required. All waterways in the preserve are open to fishing; a state fishing license is required. Three hundred species of birds have been found in the Big Thicket, making this a popular birding location.
Hunting is allowed in several areas of the preserve. The preserve permits the harvest of white-tailed deer, squirrel, rabbit, waterfowl, and feral hog. A state hunting license and preserve hunting permit are required.
Park rangers present public programs throughout the year, from guided walks and canoe trips to special Junior Ranger Days. All programs are free, but some require registration. See all upcoming ranger-led programs on our event calendar.
Plan Your Visit
The sprawling, fragmented layout of the preserve can make it difficult to find the visitor center. Ensure that you have the proper directions to avoid getting lost.