A Favorite Getaway

Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park in Florida is about an hour and a half’s drive from our home. It’s a favorite camping getaway because of its quiet, natural setting. Fall weather gave us the perfect excuse to camp there this week.

We introduced our friend and new RV owner, Mike, to the park. He camped across from us and joined us for meals in the shelter of our Clam screen enclosure. (There were mosquitoes) In my opinion, we scored two of the best sites in the campground, not that any were bad.

The preserve is a 21,000 acre savanna that once marked the northern edge of the Everglades, back in the day before air-conditioning and development. It is also a National Natural Landmark. Camping there gives us a taste of long-ago Florida. Wildlife abounds, and the nearby historic town of Micanopy charms.

Besides eating, we enjoyed hiking a couple of trails, visiting the nearby lake, and the visitors center and observation deck. Because we travel with our Shihtzu, I stayed behind on the trails that prohibited dogs. Unfortunately, I missed seeing the wild horses and bison Butch and Mike spotted on their trek. But I saw many deer.

Although the campground preserves as much of the natural setting as possible, it offers clean, modern bathrooms, laundry facilities, dumpster plus recycling bins, water and electric hookups, and a waste disposal station for emptying RV holding tanks. The boat ramp for non motorized boats, children’s playground, and picnic areas are connected to the campground via an ADA-compliant paved path.

If you’d like a taste of Old Florida in the days when Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote The Yearling (her home is nearby and offers tours) and when much of Florida was unspoiled swampland, camp at Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park. Reservations can be made through ReserveAmerica.com.

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