Camping at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Micanopy, Florida

Did you know that Florida has a prairie with bison and wild horses? That is not the first thing you would think about in Florida but, guess what, there is a beautiful state park south of Gainesville, in Micanopy, Florida, that has an overlook to a beautiful prairie that you can access from inside Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park!

This park is the first state preserve in Florida and is unique with a lot of history. The park is considered “the Real Florida” and was once occupied by the Seminole Indigenous people.

Back of our siteBack of our site
Our campsite, site 5Our campsite, site 5

Paynes Prairie Preserve has a very nice campground with water and electric hookups for RV sites. There is a dump station and bathhouses with flush toilets and hot showers. The sites are shaded and have lime rock surfaces. The sites are pretty level. You can purchase firewood at the Ranger Station. There are fire rings available at each campsite. You are not allowed to collect firewood from the park.

There is a lake nearby called Lake Wauburg which has a pier for fishing and boating access. To fish in Florida, you need a fishing license. They have daily or weekly licenses that you can purchase for people that are out-of-state residents. You can purchase the licenses at Walmart or on-line.

The Wacahoota Trail takes you to the tower in the Prairie. The tower is 50-feet tall and gives you a wonderful panoramic view of the prairie. This park has lots of wildlife. We had a cute armadillo visit our site one day. There are gators, deer, many different species of birds as well as the bison, wild turkeys, snakes, wild horses, etc. You may see wildlife on the trail, so be cautious.

View of wild horses from towerView of wild horses from tower
Me at the towerMe at the tower. Another panoramic view.

We rode our bikes to the observation tower area that overlooks the prairie. It is near the Visitor Center. We were hoping to see some bison, but they weren’t out in that area that day. We did see wild horses grazing in the fields. The prairie is very expansive and the bison can be anywhere at anytime!

The Visitor Center at Paynes Prairie has a lot of exhibits showcasing the history of the park and the wildlife you may encounter. Definitely worth a visit!

View from one of the trailsView from one of the trails

There are several hiking and biking trails. Some of the trails do not allow pets because of the potential conflict with the alligators, snakes and bison. Some of the trails are paved and others are more natural. There is a trail from the park that you can hike or bike that goes from Hawthorne to Gainesville. This paved trail is 16-miles long.

We enjoyed exploring the area. We decided to visit Gainesville one day. It is approximately a 20-minute ride from the park to the City of Gainesville. A very nice college town with lots of shops and restaurants.

If you want to experience "the Real Florida" and get a different perspective of what the state offers, then I suggest you spend some time at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.  It is a beautiful natural resource!