Take in the lush local landscape over Labor Day weekend at the Big Cypress Gallery.
Have you ever wanted to break from the beaten path, forging your own trail as you explore some of the last vestiges of true Florida wilderness? Then photographer Clyde Butcher is your kind of guy. The gruff, grizzly bear of a man who has changed the visage of Big Cypress National Preserve from mosquito-laden hell-scape to a picturesque terrain has made it his mission to dispel the myths and fears of the swamp. September 5 through 7, Butcher is holding his annual Labor Day Weekend open house, welcoming guests to his newly renovated Big Cypress Gallery, signing books, and showcasing some of his latest works from his summer behind the lens in Alaska.
Photography by Vanessa Rogers
A Florida original and true emissary of “The Swamp,” for years Butcher has been welcoming visitors to the Big Cypress Gallery—located halfway between Miami and Naples—for his famed open houses and swamp walks. Historically, these swamp walks were strictly biannual excursions—Labor Day and President Day weekends—with Butcher leading hikers into Big Cypress swamp for hour-and-a-half excursions. The popularity of the walks was so great that the swamp walks are now a seasonal affair, running select weekends throughout the fall and winter, October 3 through February 28, 2016, led by Southwest Florida naturalists.
During these Swamp Walks, hikers certainly get their feet wet as they trek deep into the Florida Everglades. As hikers forge through watery trails—some up to waist deep—the wetlands come alive, with birds of all feather stalking prey and twittering their songs, while alligators, turtles, and snakes bask in the sun’s rays along watery embankments. The walks, led by seasoned naturalists, aims to bring people closer to nature by literally getting them into the thick of it, guiding small groups through 90-minute hikes on Saturdays and Sundays ($50 for adults, $35 for kids). For those looking to mimic Clyde Butcher, three-hour photography walks on select Wednesdays and Sundays ($100 per person) are available. The Photo Swamp Walks begin early, leaving the gallery at 7:45 a.m., and will stop at several spots ideal to capture the true essence of Big Cypress. Limited to eight hikers per walk, this is the ideal excursion of those looking to capture a truly unique American landscape. If a full immersion in the swamp is not up your alley, try the 45-minute Introductory Swamp Tour, running on Sundays for $35 per person ($25 for children). You’ll still get your feet wet on the tour—up to your knees in places—but the tour is much easier on the hikers, exploring the swampy trails around the photo gallery.
- For those interested in heading out in the swampy trail, reservations are now open. Click here to book a time.