Big Bend Biodiversity Tours

This series of ecotours is designed to explore the plants and animals that make Florida’s Big Bend region a biodiversity hotspot.

Upcoming Tours

Secrets of the Savanna

October 27th beginning at 10 am

Join CPI President Ryan Means on a lovely Fall day exploring every corner of our very own Rowlett’s Creek Preserve.  The property is located smack in the middle of the western Apalachicola National Forest inside one of the world’s finest and largest remaining intact longleaf pine savannah ecosystems.  We’ll walk gently along discovering plants, animals, and discussing the delicate ecological relationships that make the Longleaf Pine savannah so biologically diverse.  We’ll also learn about the many management techniques that CPI uses to restore our property back to a healthy, diverse longleaf pine ecosystem and maintain it in that state forever.  We’ll probably get wet in a few creeks, slog in a bit of muck, and handle a few creatures while we are at it…Don’t forget your cameras!

We’ll spend some time photographing flowers, pollinators, and breathlessly beautiful landscapes.  Ryan will be out there at 10 a.m. to meet and greet and get started shortly thereafter.  Please bring a lunch and water in a day pack, along with hats, camera, and sunscreen.   You may want to bring yourself a change of clothes depending on how wet and soiled you get.  That’s up to you. 

RSVP is requested – Click Here

Questions? Email

Things to Know

  • There is little to no cell service at our Preserve
  • Rowlett’s Creek Preserve is a ‘primitive site’ with no facilities, electricity, trails, or potable running water. 
  • We will have a water jug with which you can refill your water bottles.
  • There will be a shuttle in from the parking area at 10 am. If you are late, you are welcome to walk the mile into the property from the parking area and look for the group (see directions below)
  • The tour is free but donations will be gratefully appreciated. Proceeds will go towards supporting management of the property.


  • From Tallahassee, head west on SR 20 to Hosford
  • Turn left at the flashing light in Hosford to turn south on SR 65
  • Travel about 29 miles south to CR 379 in Sumatra
  • Turn right on CR 379 and drive approximately 3 miles to the bridge at Rowlett’s Creek
  • Park at the bridge.  If you arrive after the shuttle in you can walk in using the track that is directly across the road from the parking area at Rowlett’s Creek.  This track will lead you past two open gates.  Once you pass the 2nd open gate, you will be on the property of Bruce Means (our founder and President emeritus) and Kathy Steinheimer.  Continue along the track to the Coastal Plains Institute sign and look for the group. The walk in is about 1 mile.
  • Lat/Long of parking area: 30 03’30.14 N 85 01′ 09.61″ W

If you are interested in booking a private tour, please contact us with possible dates and general interests (wildflowers, restoration, photography, amphibians, birds, etc.) and we can design a tour specifically for your group.

Past Tours 

Fire in the Forest – July 2019

This all-day foray to Rowlett’s Creek Preserve, occurred just less than a month after a prescribed burn. The goal was to see the ecological impacts of a fire conducted during the natural fire season. We searched for the many flowered-grass pink, a state-threatened orchid, Chapman’s crownbeard, and other endemic/rare species that require summer burns to survive.  Participants saw first-hand why we make such an effort to mimic the natural fire regime.

Apalachicola Lowlands – October 2018

This first in our series of tours was an intimate driving and walking tour of the Apalachicola Lowlands. We traveled  to our own Rowlett’s Creek Preserve, an 80-acre inholding within the western Apalachicola National Forest. While the longleaf pine ecosystem was our overall focus, we also zoomed in on unique habitats such as pitcher plant bogs, ephemeral wetlands, and blackwater streams. Participants got up close and personal with amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, and wildflowers galore!