Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park - Okeechobee, Florida

Our newly renovated 1997 Georgie Boy Maverick
We camped at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in Okeechobee, Florida for 2 nights.  We were there in mid March, 2017 in our 1997 Georgie Boy Maverick Class C.

(To view a short youtube slideshow of our visit, scroll to the bottom of this post)

I love wild raw Florida... and each time we venture out I am awed by all the different beauty that this state has to offer.  


Sunrise on the Prairie
Great hiking, biking, shady hammocks, thick forests, open prairies, birds of all types and sizes, alligators!  Sharks!  Cold clear springs on a hot summer day and crystal blue waters full of colorful sea-life down in the Florida Keys.  I never cease to be amazed by the beauty that God has created.

Burrowing Owl on Trail
Kissimme Prairie Preserve is an adventure...their motto is "don't look AT the prairie, look INTO it" and it's true, you must look deeply into it, and you really can't do that sitting in a chair at your campsite.  Bring good hiking shoes, or a bicycle (if you can handle DEEP sand and difficult terrain), a camera and take your time, look for the little things, like Purple Iris's blooming in the middle of a dry and weary grass prairie, burrowing owls along a dusty road, and gators sunning themselves along the path.

Look INTO the prairie for the real treasures

Racoon hiding in palm tree

Tiny butterfly on tiny daisy like flower

Along with all of this, don't forget to look UP... up at the amazing dark sky simply filled, FILLED with stars.... breathtaking and amazing...this is the place for stargazers!


Since this park is only 2 1/2 hours from home, I booked us a quick trip... 2 nights during the week.  Hoping for peace and quiet, and it would have been, but for the group of families that were camping right next to and around us, who unfortunately did not have camping etiquette.  The kids were literally screaming most of the time... and the parents were quite loud and obnoxious themselves, I even overheard "it doesn't matter, no one knows us here"... :/


There aren't a lot of campsites in this park.  There are two sides, the "family side" and the "equestrian side" (This would be a wonderful place to bring a horse!!!).  However, people were camping on the Equestrian side without horses, and it was VERY peaceful over there! Great idea for next time ;)  

Sunrise from under our awning
We camped in the family side on site 18 which was a nicely sized pull through site that faced the prairie (and the beautiful sunrise).  The campground road was between us and the prairie, but not much traffic came through.  

Deer on trail
The best site for this side (in my opinion) would be #20.  It faces the prairie with woods to one side, no road in your view.  Without all the screaming kids, I would imagine deer might be around to greet you in the morning. 

We love spending time together :)

Riding off into the sunset


Wild Turkey

Sunset near Equestrian Sites
If you camp on the equestrian side, you are near some trail heads and near the best place to see the sunset each night... spectacular!  However, you are set deeply in the shade and I would be concerned about mosquitoes during the summer. We had very little issue with mosquitoes at this time.


That's a gators tail sticking out of the bushes... we did not pass that way. ;)
Speaking of trails there are MANY to choose from, however, I would definitely go over the trail map with someone at the camp office.  We mapped out a bike ride for the afternoon, and were halfway through when we encountered a wildlife ranger, he informed us that the way we planned to go was not maintained, and was very thick mud.  We were so thankful for that, as it was nearing sunset and we would have been stuck quite far out in "gatorland" ;)  

This was a nice easy portion of the trail
We are in pretty "decent" shape, but my legs were screaming each day as we pedaled through some seriously thick sand on the trails.  Some areas were ok, but some were pretty deep. We like biking trails, but walking would be great as well... bring water, there are miles to cover! Bring your camera! 
This was a very sandy portion of the trail
There is much to see... 

These guys were right off the road, just hanging out...
Gators...wow... it was intimidating, exciting and scary all at the same time to see so many of them in one place out in the wild.  However, this is natural Florida and that's where they live.  Respect them, keep your distance, view them, they are an interesting awesome creatures.... don't go TOWARD them and don't feed them please.  ;)

Eastern Meadowlark
We saw lots of birds, so keep your ears and eyes open for colors and unfamiliar calls, we saw deer and they were nearby and not intimidated by us, look into the prairie and see all the layers of flora.... so much beauty out there. :)

Would we go back?  Yes!  There were many trails we didn't have time to cover, and I would plan to go there during a meteor shower or super dark moonless night.  Laying out to watch the stars was amazing each night!

What time of year would we recommend?  
Not the summer...no way!  There is so much ground to cover, I would go here during the cooler months.  Also keep in mind the rainfall.  It was very dry when we visited (under a burn ban), but when it rains, you may end up trudging through mud or even deep water on a trail...not my cup o' tea with gators around. ;)

If you liked this post, please take a moment to leave a comment.  Let us know if you have any questions or if there is something we should address in future reviews. :)  

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