KOUNTZE, Texas — Big Thicket National Preserve is reopening its visitor center to the public to align with COVID-19 guidance from officials .
The visitor center will reopen 7 days a week starting on October 1, and will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day.
Visitors will be able to pick up camping and hunting permits, and the toilets located at hiking trailheads will also be reopened for the public to use.
The National Park Service is working with state, federal and local health authorities to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and is using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis according to a Big Thicket news release.
The CDC offers guidance on how to safely visit parks and recreation areas on its website.
From a Big Thicket National Preserve news release:
Big Thicket National Preserve to Re-open the Visitor Center
KOUNTZE, Texas – Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Big Thicket National Preserve is increasing access and will be re-opening the visitor center. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
Beginning October 1, Big Thicket National Preserve will reopen access to:
Visitor Center 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm. Visitors who wish to get more information about the preserve can do so in-person. Visitors will also be able to get a back-country camping permit and hunting permits at the Visitor Center, during normal business hours. Only 10 visitors will be permitted in the visitor center at a time, and guests will be asked to limit their time in the building.
All the vault toilets at trailheads and day-use-areas throughout the preserve will re-open and available to visitors.
In addition, the following spaces continue to be available:
All 40+ miles of official hiking trails, including the popular Kirby Nature Trail, Sundew Trail, and Pitcher Plant Trail, are available for daytime use. https://www.nps.gov/bith/planyourvisit/hiking-in-the-big-thicket.htm
Access to water-based recreation, such as fishing, canoeing, kayaking and motor-boating remains abundant along the Neches River, Village Creek, Turkey Creek and numerous other small tributaries throughout the preserve.
All boat launches are open, including the Confluence Boat Launch in Orange County and McQueens Landing Boat Launch in Jasper County.
All picnic areas are accessible, including Edgewater Day Use Area in Jefferson County, the picnic shelter at the Sundew Trail in Tyler County, and many other informal picnic spots at trailheads throughout the park.
The issuance of special use permits, and filming permits has also resumed. More information can be found at https://www.nps.gov/bith/planyourvisit/special-use-permits.htm .
With public health in mind, all ranger-led programs and public events continue to be cancelled until further notice.
“We are looking forward to our visitor center reopening to the public.” stated Big Thicket National Preserve Superintendent Wayne Prokopetz “We hope that visitors will enjoy exploring the exhibits while practicing good social distance.”