Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park


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These 54,000 acres of incredibly flat land are the largest remaining tract of dry prairie in Florida. By the way, don’t count on the “dry prairie” being dry. This prairie is largely flat, low-lying and poorly drained, so much of it is wet most of the time. That makes sense when you consider that this is part of the Everglades Trail. Check out the Photo Gallery to see what I mean.

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So these mixed wetlands/uplands suppot a great abundance and diversity of plants and animals, including more than 30 imperiled species, which is why it’s a Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail site. Audubon’s Crested Caracara and the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow can be found here, along with a variety of wading birds and raptors, as well as the ever-present alligators and deer.

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Hikers, bikers and equestrians can enjoy more than 100 miles of dirt roads that crisscross this vast landscape, though you may run into significant flooding, particularly during and after rains. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to make it all the way down to the Kissimmee River.

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But maybe — just maybe — the best time to visit Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is at night. You see, this state park is the first place in Florida to be designated a Dark Sky location. What is a Dark Sky location? Ironically, it’s a place with the brightest night sky — more stars, galaxies, planets and other heavenly objects than you’ve probably ever seen. A place where the full moon is so bright that you don’t need a flashlight to walk around outside at night. Although the best views of the vast cosmos are during a new moon on a cool, dry evening with clear skies.

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Fortunately, they offer a full service family campground, an equestrian campground and primitive campsites, so you can enjoy magnificent stargazing night after night, weather permitting. Make your reservations HERE.

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Whether you stay or not, this is a natural wonder worth visiting. If you’re looking for other awesome places to experience, check out our Bucket List and Where-to-Go.

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Night sky photo credit: Photo: [https://sites.google.com/site/thebrockeninglory/ Brocken Inaglory] user [[:en:User:{{{3}}}|{{{3}}}]] [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons