Friday, June 17

Friday Finds: Payne's Prairie Preserve State Park

Today's "find" is another beautiful Florida State Park in my special series: Payne's Prairie Preserve State Park!
Located just south of Gainesville, Payne's Prairie is 21,000 acres of marsh prairie. In 1774 it was visited by famous artist & naturalist William Bartram who dubbed it the "Alachua Savannah," when he wrote about it in his book, "Bartram's Travels."
It became Florida's first preserve in 1971.

To visit Payne's Prairie is to see Florida as it was prior to the arrival of European settlers & much work has been done to the park to restore it's waterways to it's original pristine state.

The Preserve is home to a wide array of native wild animals & reptiles, plus 270 species of birds AND small wild herds of Bison, Cracker Cattle & Cracker Horses.  Cracker Cattle & Horses are descendants of original Spanish horses & cattle brought to new world. They are historically native to Florida.
The nickname "Crackers," comes from Florida cowboys who were known as "Crackers" because they used bullwhips as a means of communicating with one another across the vast marshes while driving herds. Bison also once roamed this far south.

Wild Cracker Cattle

/Cracker cattle
Wild Horses of Paynes Prairie

Wild Bison

Special Features Offered at Payne's Prairie:
* 8 trails available for hiking, horseback riding or biking.
* A 50 ft observation tower for a panoramic view of the park.
* A visitor center featuring exhibits and an audio-visual program
* Fishing & boating, with boating limited to canoes or boats with electric motors. (No gas-powered boats allowed.)
* Full facility camping for overnight visitors and also primitive camping is available.
* Payne's Prairie is known as the "Gateway" for the Great Florida Birding Trail.
* Annual special events include: a Stargazing Party, Payne's Prairie 5K & the Fire Fest.
*  Other events and ranger programs are available on weekends November through April.
So, if you're passing through Florida or visiting the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, do take time to go and visit this gem! And take your camera--you might see something wild!
That's it for today! See you for Good Eating Monday!

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