Big Thicket National Preserve, a unit of the US National Park Service, is located in Southeast Texas, near the city of Beaumont and 75 miles northeast of Houston. Established in October of 1974, the preserve consists of nine land units and six water corridors encompassing more than 113,000 acres. The Big Thicket, often referred to as a “biological crossroads,” is a transition zone between four distinct vegetation types – the moist eastern hardwood forest, the southwestern desert, the southeastern swamp, and the central prairies. Species from all of these different vegetation types come together in the thicket, exhibiting a variety of vegetation and wildlife that has received global interest. In 1981, Big Thicket National Preserve was also designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and in 2001 the American Bird Conservancy classified the preserve as a “Globally Important Bird Area.” To truly “see” the preserve, you must venture away from the modern conveniences of automobile travel and take a close look at the small things. The preserve offers over 40 miles of developed hiking trails, suitable for all skill levels. Numerous creeks and rivers offer visitors the opportunity to kayak and canoe on over 100 miles of accessible waterways. For the more adventurous visitors, back-country camping opportunities are available in most units of the preserve. Birding, photography, hunting and fishing are just a few of the other activities visitors enjoy.