The Orlando Nature Perserve

The Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve gives you the chance to experience the saying of old, “The best things in life are free.” Long after Disney and Orlando changed the entire area, it’s hard to imagine what it used to be like! At the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve you can get a genuinely unique experience that – unlike most attractions in the area – is free!

At the heart of the preserve is the Vera Carter Environmental Center. This is a building that houses displays featuring local flora and fauna as well as environmental programs for children and adults. The preserve itself is 440 acres and captures Florida’s original natural environment. Fortunately, the preserve is conveniently located near popular attractions like World [sic] Disney World and Sea World.

The watershed along Lake Tibet-Butler (part of Butler Chain of Lakes) was the object of a purchase made by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) in’89. This was part of the Save Our Rivers Program that was designed to protect the area. Foxes and bobcats are live on the preserve, but are shy so visitors do not see them often. A lot of bird watching and nature observation is done at the preserve, and four miles of well-maintained trails help visitors explore nature and learn about the terrain at various “learning stations.”

Focusing on topics such as plants of South Florida, outdoor sports, ecosystems, and animals, many educational and hiking programs are sponsored at the preserve. Just because the preserve emphasizes nature doesn’t mean that technology has been left out! A variety of computer-based learning programs are offered to help enrich the visitor’s experience. For adults only, the preserve sponsors art classes.

Held in conjunction with other Florida nature preserves, the hiking program allows visitors to become a “Preserve Trailblaszer” after hiking (at a self-paced rate) for 30 miles. Those who attain this status get an official T-shirt and are enriched by their discovery of native Florida. The Trailblazer program is free and more information about it is available at the preserve’s office.

The preserve is conveniently located near I-4. Visitors should take the Lake Buena Vista exit (Exit 68), then take Winter Garden-Vineland Road (C.R. 535) around five miles northbound. Look to the right (east) side of the road and you should see the entrance. If you need to contact the preserve, use the following address: Tibet-Butler Preserve, 8777 State Road 535, Orlando 32836.

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