Visiting Florida's state parks and beyond in our Roadtrek. This is how we saw it all. Hopefully, the posts will give you some useful information. Questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Revisiting Florida's Kissimmee Prairie Preserve SP

Returned here in a drier season.  The park is 54,000 acres huge east of Lorida on Hwy 98.  There are over 100 miles of trails for hiking, biking and equestrian use. And, prairie as far as the eye can see.  This park is also great for birding and star-gazing.  It is Florida's first "dark sky" park. Extremely low light pollution.

There are two loops of campsites: the family loop and the equestrian loop.  Both are in a hammock surrounded by the prairie, providing plenty of shade for the packed dirt/crushed shell mix , level campsites. The sites in the family loop have 30amp service and water. There is one pull through site and one tent only site.  Also, the only bath house is in this loop.

There is ample space between sites for privacy and you will see deer, rabbits, squirrels and a variety of birds visiting the loop.  This side of the is totally shaded.


A deer visits our loop.  A morning and evening ritual.

We are used to seeing many Cardinals on our trips, but they were replaced by these small birds in this campground.  Crested Flycatcher?

Another visitor to the camp.  Dangerous to make an appearance the week before Thanksgiving.

This side of the loop is shaded and also provides a view of the dry prairie.  Site #20 on the left way at the end provides an awesome view of the prairie from the side of the RV.  Also a good site for star-gazing from your RV. Difficult to reserve this site.  Very soughtafter.

On the other side of the hammock lies the equestrian loop.  This loop is all back-in sites, more grassy, but level and shaded.  It has 50 amp electric plus water.  Guess those horses need more amps.  The disadvantage is there is no bath house. You must go to the family loop, about 3/4 mile back toward the ranger station. There is a clean pit toilet at the entrance. We noticed the bigger Class A rigs come herein addition to the horse trailer guys. Also, there is a corral available with feed troughs and water spigots adjacent to the loop.

We originally came here for the quiet the prairie provides.  A little R&R before the holidays.  Then we were reminded that the Supermoon occurred during our stay.  So, I packed the tri-pod to capture it and the night sky on the prairie.  So, mama nature decided to cloud the sky over the whole time we were there with only a few short breaks.  So, here's the moon.

But, then, a ranger suggested this....The Swamp Buggy.  I had forgotten all about this vehicle.  For a small fee a ranger takes you on a guided tour of the prairie. A three-hour tour. Hmm, where have I heard that phrase before? Go places even hiking cannot take you.  So away we went. The tours are limited to weekends during the months of November thru March.  Only eight people per trip. So reserve early and bring your camera for a great narrated tour.  Our driver/tour guide was Ranger Chris.  Excellent.

Traveling down the entrance road Chris explains the role of the park in preserving the ecology and the wildlife.  On the left is the "wet" prairie and,

on the right is the "dry" prairie.


A Bald Eagle makes a flyover.

We pass a pasture where Herons and Wood Storks are grazing with the cows.

And a couple of turkey vultures.

Then, we turn into the prairie.

A welcoming committee.

The road becomes a little moist. Tracks from various wildlife dot the path.  Deer, racoons, bobcat, the Swamp Buggy.

Our guide points out an area that was control burned. A process to help nature regrow the area. It's a natural process, but when storms don't create enough burn, the rangers assist.  This area was burned just three weeks ago and look at the growth already.

A meadow lark. A beneficiary of the burn.

Colorful flowers among the green and gold grasses.

Yellow Bachelor's Button


Leavansworth's Tickseed

It pays to ride the buggy.

A stop to stretch the legs and see fields of small flowers. And, look for tracks.

We're being observed.

Hiding along the road.  Some birds will hang around to the last minute, others fly before we get close.

And at the Seven Mile Slough you'll always see an alligator,

or two.

The sun is setting fast.  Heading home.

 A Crested Caracara tries to out run us.

Another sits on a post along the roadside.

 Late in the afternoon it is common to see snakes on the entrance road.  The air is cooling, but the gravel road retains heat.  And, food.  We came across a Black snake that had just caught dinner...a frog.

Besides the miles of hiking trails in the prairie there is a short hammock trail near the campground. Easy interesting hike. A good part of it is a seldom used service road.

Interesting tree root system.

This is it from the side. Two trunks from one.
One of two bridges spanning a small creek.

Fully expected to see a gator or two in this mess, but none.  Today.

Some grasses.


A variety of hardwoods and palms in the hammock.

And, I ran across a half dozen deer in the middle of all this. Some skittish, some curious.

A White Peacock butterfly along the trail.

And, a Little Metalmark sipping nectar and pollenating.

We came here to relax.  You can do that in the campsite or a nice place is on the ranger station veranda. Complete with those comfortable Cracker Barrel style rockers.  Just sit and look out at the preserve waiting for wildlife to pass by.  Great staff here.

On the road between the ranger station and the equestrian loop a large gator named Stumpy hangs out in the marsh along side the road.  "Stumpy" because he lost part of his tail in a fight.  So, I suppose there is a gator larger than Stumpy out there somewhere.

Stumpy turns around to reveal his head.

A young deer waiting for my next move.

 The American Crows are huge here.

A bouquet amongst the grass.

Grabbing a leaf for dinner.

Ibis in the marsh by the ranger station.


A couple of Killdeer in the field.

And, this young deer curiously stalking them.  They would move, the deer would move. Finally they tired of the game and flew off.

Across from the ranger station is a mound built for astronomers and star-gazers. Water and electric supplied by the park for there motorized telescopes and such. Water for the human.  Ten stations in all. Nice job rangers.

The setting sun across the preserve.

 Good night.  What a visit.