Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
This remote and sweeping preserve is reminiscent of western prairies. But here, cabbage palms dot the landscape. Dry prairie is an imperiled habitat and hosts rare and endangered species, including the Florida grasshopper sparrow, burrowing owl and the crested caracara. Despite its name, though, this site is diverse, with low areas forming lush sloughs and wetlands.
Seventy-nine species of butterflies are documented here – the most at any one location in the state. Be sure to pick up a butterfly and bird checklist while you're at the park's office. Relax in rocking chairs on the office porch and view wildflowers in the spring and fall that sprinkle color in the midst of grasses and low-growing saw palmettos. Or browse the gift shop and butterfly collection inside.
With 116 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking, you can be on the trail all day and never see another visitor. Besides its remoteness, the preserve is also known for its dark nighttime sky. Astronomy enthusiasts say it is the darkest in Florida, which makes it ideal for stargazing. Ask about special ranger-guided viewings through the preserve's telescope.
History buffs will enjoy the preserve, too! Military Trail, a dirt road on the property that leads to the Kissimmee River, once connected two army forts, Fort Drum and Fort Kissimmee. Another road, the Peavine Trail, follows an old railroad bed built in 1910. Look for an impressive gathering of alligators in Seven Mile Slough, a short walk from the parking area at the corner of Military and Peavine Trails.
Of course you can enjoy camping at the preserve, but you probably didn't expect buggy tours. The tours are offered on weekends and national holidays from fall to early spring.
For More Information:
Call the park office at (863) 462-5360.
- Access is off C.R. 724. Parking is at the park office five miles inside the park. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is approximately 25 miles northwest of the City of Okeechobee. The preserve is located five miles north of the western terminus of C.R. 724. U.S. Highway 441 and C.R. 700A intersect C.R. 724. To get there from Okeechobee, take Highway 98 north to C.R. 700A or U.S. 441 to C.R. 724. Follow the signs.