Finding the Real Florida

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

If you think of “Disney” when you think “Florida,” then you’re missing the REAL Florida. We hope you enjoy our latest video, which includes alligators, Homeland Security, a quick overview of different kinds of RV parks, cute dogs, a cat, and a swamp-buggy ride with our kids.

It’s impossible to capture the beauty and diversity of Kissimmee Prairie in an eight-minute video, so here are a few additional things we think you might want to know.

From the park website https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Kissimmee-Prairie

  • This 54,000 acre preserve protects the largest remaining stretch of Florida dry prairie, home to an array of endangered plants and animals. While driving the five-mile-long road into the preserve, visitors can enjoy sweeping vistas of grasslands reminiscent of the Great Plains of the Midwest.
  • 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.
  • More than 100 miles of dirt roads allow hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians to explore prairies, wetlands, and shady hammocks.* November through March, ranger-led prairie buggy tours allow visitors to see remote areas of the preserve.
  • Kissimmee Prairie’s remoteness makes it one of Florida’s premier locations for stargazing.
  • For overnight stays, the Preserve has two full-facility campground loops: family and an equestrian campground with paddocks. Proof of current negative Coggins test is required for all horses.

While we were in the park we were able to take advantage of the dark skies to watch part of the Geminid Meteor Shower. Many of our fellow campers had elaborate telescope setups for even better stargazing. We and our kids were awed by how dark the night can be and how brightly the multitude of stars can shine without “light pollution.” Spectacular!

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?”  Psalm 8:3-4

You should also know that the park is named for the Kissimmee River that runs through it, and is not near the city of Kissimmee, which is about 90 miles to the north (close to a two-hour drive). Yep, we learned that the hard way.

You should also know that it is remote. REMOTE. About a 15-minute drive from the campground you’ll find one tiny store that sells essentials such as milk and eggs, soft drinks, and dusty “junk” that the widely scattered locals might need, such as screws, nuts, and bolts, and lots of stuff that nobody seems to have needed for a very long time. There is a small Mexican restaurant attached but it was closed for renovations. In other words, bring with you everything you’ll need for the length of your stay. The nearest Walmart is an hour away. The nearest hotel is 45 minutes away, and a second is over an hour. REMOTE.

Kissimmee Prairie Reserve State Park offers a unique camping experience! We highly recommend a visit the next time you are in Florida.

*Hammock is a term used in the southeastern United States for stands of trees, usually hardwood, that form an ecological island in a contrasting ecosystem. Hammocks grow on elevated areas, often just a few inches high, surrounded by wetlands that are too wet to support them.

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