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more cypress trees on either side of the boardwalk
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

375 Sanctuary Road West Naples, FL 34120
Boardwalk is open 7:00am-5:30pm. Boardwalk admission closes at 4:30pm.
239-348-9151 2 hours
December 2011 All year
$10-29 Naples Florida
Website Nature Wildlife Refuges
First review
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a 13,000 acre nature preserve owned by the National Audubon Society. The property includes approximately 700 acres of virgin bald cypress trees, which is the largest tract of such trees left in the United States. Corkscrew is also home to the largest nesting area of endangered wood storks. Limited visitor facilities include a modern visitor center which has a 20 minute orientation film and a snack shop. There also is a 2 mile swamp boardwalk with interpretive signs. Guided daytime walks with naturalists are periodically offered as are nighttime events, which include star gazing and naturalist presentations.

The Audubon Society was in the forefront of efforts to protect wading birds in Florida during the early 1900s from a fervent demand for bird feathers to decorate women's hats. When this threat abated a new one emerged. Vast stands of cypress forests were logged without much care about the habitat or thoughts about the future. By the 1950s little of the cypress forest was left. In 1954 a local conservation group was able to purchase 2,240 acres of cypress forest in what was then an inaccessible swamp. A lumber company gifted 640 additional acres, and 3,200 acres were leased and then eventually purchased and added to the preserve. More lands have been preserved over the years, including neighboring areas by the state of Florida.

Visiting here on a sunny Monday in December worked great as the temperature was pleasant, bugs were on vacation, and there were only a handful of other people. The orientation film was not working at the time, and there were minimal displays in the visitor center, so most of the time here was spent walking around the 2.2 mile boardwalk checking out the property. The boardwalk was very well maintained and was enhanced with periodic interpretive signs about the habitat types. There were few if any animals to see, an occasional bird here and there but nothing notable. The main value of visiting was to see the impressive bald cypress trees. Many of these ancient trees are 500-600 years old, and have trunks several feet across and crowns hundreds of feet high. If you dig nature and being outdoors, this preserve is a rare and beautiful setting to admire and enjoy. It's also a quiet and relaxing place, even when it's busier because the boardwalk is long enough to get some space and privacy. With a good mix of nature, recreation and education, the preserve will be of interest to most travelers.
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