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The Last Prairie in Florida

Posted by on February 12, 2013

Check out KISSIMMEE Prairie State Park. This is a 54,000 acre preserve protecting one of the largest remaining stretches of Florida dry prairie. It’s home to many of endangered plants and animals. The preserve offers excellent seasonal birding opportunities and is home to the endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow, as well as the Crested Caracara and Burrowing Owl. We thought that we could see it all in 4 days. We ended up staying a week and there were many more trails to explore. So I’m sure we will return next winter.

Meadowlark sunset

 We saw several Crested Caracara, Red Shouldered Hawks, Tons of Deer, Many Alligators, Meadowlarks, and Wild Turkeys and the typical Florida waterbirds, (Herons, Ibis, Egrets,), Osprey and Eagles. There are several species of snakes in the park, the ones we saw included a large Cotton Mouth which had just been hit by a vehicle on the road, Black Racers, lots of them, and possibly a Queen Snake. Many Pigs frequent the trails and surrounding area which is evident by all the disturbed ground.

caracara full

 

 

 

ibis landing

ibis landing feet

 

 

Rabbit at Kissimee caracara head

 

Hawk on t post

Deer Kissimmee

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Don’t confuse this park with LAKE KISSIMMEE STATE PARK. This park is north of Lake Okeechobee.  If you plan to stay at this park, be sure you have plenty of food and fuel because it is a very long ways to the nearest town.  Sebring is almost 2 hours drive. The campground is great. Some of the sites in the family campground are a bit tight for a large RV but most are plenty long enough. Especially in the Equestrian section which is about 1/4 mile further.  You don’t have to have a horse to camp in the Equestrian park. This is one of the darkest parts of Florida and the astronomers frequent the area to study and photograph the stars and planets.  The road to the campground from the main gate is gravel and it is 5 miles long. Your vehicles will get quite dusty driving this part of the road.

 

The Prairie Buggy

The Prairie Buggy

 Be sure to take the ranger-led prairie buggy tour and see the remote areas of the park if you will be there on a Weekend between November and end of March. From an elevated seat, one will see spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife. The ride lasts approximately 2 to 3 hours. . Reservations are strongly suggested and can be made up to 60 days in advance by calling the park office at (863) 462-5360. It’s Well worth the $17.00 fee per adult. You will see wildlife and hear about the history of the park.

 

 

 

 

Alligator in the Water

There are plenty alligators in this park too.

Out of all the Florida State Parks we have visited, this has been my favorite so far just because of the diversified terrain, the wildlife and the clean, quiet campground. 

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