This scenic departure from the Tamiami Trail (US 41) gives visitors an excuse to slow down—the road is riddled with potholes—and enjoy the scenery. If your car is up to the challenge you can drive the road on your own. Otherwise, it is also possible to book a tour that travels the Loop Road in addition to visiting other parts of the surrounding preserve.xa0
Traveling with a guide enables you to focus on the sights and wildlife viewing rather than on navigating the rutted road. Plus, you can learn about the history of the area from your guide. The road is known for harboring illicit activities throughout the prohibition era and into the 50s and 60s. There are even claims that Al Capone owned a speakeasy along the road.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Take the Loop Road if you want to get off the main highway and into the Everglades.
- Drive slow and watch for wildlife—it’s not uncommon to encounter alligators crossing the road.
- Check the road conditions before starting out, it can be impassable during rainstorms.
- In dry conditions, the road can be navigated in a 2-wheel-drive car but 4WD is advised if the road is wet.
How to Get There
The Loop Road begins at the former Monroe Station (it is now burned to the ground but the sign still exists), 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) west of Oasis Visitor Center and 15 miles (24 kilometers) east of the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center. Follow the road until it reconnects with the Tamiami Trail (US 41) 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Miami at the 40-Mile Bend Check Station.
When to Get There
It is easiest to travel the road when it is not raining, so your best shot is to visit during Florida’s dry, cool season from November to March. In the summer, parts of the road can be underwater and completely impassable.
Why Visit Big Cypress National Preserve
Bordering Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve is a protected swampland without the same restrictions as the national park itself. This more lenient federal designation means that the preserve welcomes a diverse array of outdoor recreation activities. You can drive off-road vehicles, see the swamp from an airboat tour, and even hunt within the preserve.