Visitors will find a gentle, pristine wilderness that dates back about 600 years. A 2.25-mile boardwalk meanders through pine flatwood, wet prairie, around a marsh, and finally into the largest old-growth bald cypress forest in North America. These impressive trees, relatives of the redwood, tower 130 feet into the sky and have a girth of 25 feet. Their massive branches are draped with mosses, lichens, bromeliads, and ferns. The forest is also home to hundreds of alligators, otters, white-tailed deer, and red-bellied turtles. A wide variety of wading birds, songbirds, and raptors can be seen throughout the year, while the fabulous Painted Bunting is one of many winter visitors. Photo opportunities are available at every turn of the boardwalk trail.
The story of how Corkscrew Swamp became a sanctuary is one of the important conservation successes of our time. National Audubon began protecting the wading birds nesting within Corkscrew Swamp in 1905. During the 1940s and '50s, cypress forests in Florida were being leveled for their timber. Audubon realized the forest must be saved. At the time, Corkscrew was isolated and almost impossible to access. Today it is an oasis in a made-over landscape. In other areas, many of the wild swamps and much of the teeming wildlife that was characteristic of this region less than a generation ago are gone. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's value thus becomes more significant with every passing year. Your visit and admission fees help us preserve it for generations to come.
The natural biological systems, which expand over 13,000 acres at Corkscrew are maintained through land management practices to sustain native plants and animals found here and to preserve the natural processes that have been occurring for thousands of years.
Corkscrew is an ideal outdoor classroom. We offer a full calendar of active environmental education programs for the public that promotes the importance of wetlands around the world.
In 2000, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary including Panther Island received a Ramsar Designation as a Wetland of International Importance. Corkscrew is also a designated Important Bird Area and a major stop on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Corkscrew has also been recognized as a Wetland of Distinction by the Society of Wetland Scientists.