Safety

Most visitors to Big Thicket National Preserve experience few problems besides mosquitoes and chiggers. However, there are several environmental hazards that people should be aware of. Remember, you are responsible for your own safety.

 
4 people taking a selfie while wearing personal flotation devices
A PFD can save your life!

NPS Photo

Swimming and Boating

Drowning is the primary cause of death in the Big Thicket. The National Park Service does not recommend swimming in preserve waterways. There are no designated swimming areas in Big Thicket National Preserve. Village Creek and the Neches River may appear calm, but they often have strong currents that can carry away even the strongest swimmers. Shallow sandbars sometimes end in steep drop-offs.

All children under the age of 13 years are required to wear life jackets (also known as personal flotation devices or PFDs) when boating. All boats must have a PFD for each person on board.

Going paddling? Check out these safety tips.

 

Heat and Dehydration

Heat is the number one weather-related cause of death in the United States. While the temperature here rarely exceeds 95°F, high humidity can make it feel much hotter. The high humidity interferes with the body's natural cooling mechanism, the evaporative cooling of sweat.

To avoid heat stress and dehydration:

  • Drink plenty of water and/or sports drinks before, during, and after your hike. It is just as important to replace electrolytes lost during sweating as it is to replace fluids. Keep in mind that thirst is not a reliable indicator of dehydration. Drink often, even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • Avoid strenuous activity during the heat of the day.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine, as these increase fluid loss.
  • Know and watch for the warning signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

More information about heat exhaustion and heat stroke

 
a black/yellow/red coral snake in the leaves on the forest floor
Texas coral snakes (Micrurus tener) are venomous and prefer to eat other snakes.

NPS Photo / Andrew Bennett

Animals

The Big Thicket is home to 4 types of venomous snakes: coral snakes, rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins (cottonmouths). Be cautious in dense brush. Most snakes seen here are harmless, and all snakes, venomous or not, are protected in the preserve.

Mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers can all leave irritating bites, and some can transmit diseases. Use insect repellent and check for ticks often. Wearing light-colored clothing makes them more visible.

It is illegal to feed animals in the preserve. Human food may have a negative impact on wildlife. Wildlife need only the habitat elements—food, water, and shelter—provided by their environment.

Additionally, please do not approach or feed free-roaming domestic animals in this area. Stray animals may carry diseases and can act unpredictably.

Last updated: February 27, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

6044 FM 420
Kountze, TX 77625

Phone:

409-951-6700

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