We just got done spending four nights at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. We had a great time camping, hiking, biking, running, and stargazing! We look forward to going back there again in the future.
As the name implies, this is a 54,000 acre prairie. It's wide open and the sky seems huge. It's absolutely beautiful! We saw numerous deer, lots of different kinds of birds, alligators, and wild turkeys. The visitor center is around a 4-mile ride back from the park entrance. It's all dirt roads, but very nice. There is a 6,000 acre cattle lease inside the park as well, located north of the Seven Mile Slough Culverts on Peavine. This area of the state, Okeechobee, is cattle country. The county has far more cattle than people. It's very rural, but there are cows all over leading up to the park entrance. The endangered grasshopper sparrow lives in this prairie and it's one of the last places in Florida where it can be seen (it's losing its habitat to all of the cattle grazing). We saw many grasshopper sparrows there (which could have been the migratory variety, rather than the endangered one, we are not sure), as well as crested caracaras, eastern meadowlarks, and a variety of other birds. One night while we were out stargazing I could hear a barred owl off in the nearby trees. Take whatever you need, because there are no nearby stores to get additional supplies. The closest Walmart came up at being around 50 minutes away, and I saw no small convenience stores, restaurants, or gas stations anywhere within at least a half an hour away. You are rural, secluded, and it's great! We have Verizon for our cell phones and we did have service. There were a few times when it would drop the signal for about 10 minutes, but then it came back. It worked most of the time we wanted to use it for something.
Camping: We stayed in site number 1. The campground does not have a full hook-up. They offer water and electric and they do have a dump station. Since we were going to be there for four nights, I wanted us to be close to the restroom/bath house so that we could minimize water usage in the trailer. We were steps from the sidewalk that lead to the bathrooms and it turned out great! We were able to use it for showering and some bathroom use during the day. The campground offers two campsite loops. The one we were in offers the restroom/bathhouse, but the other loop did not have one. It only had a port-a-potty, and there is quite a distance between the two campground loops. I saw many people drive over from the other loop to use the restroom and take showers at the bathhouse. The restroom area has three private shower stalls. They also offer a small area where you can wash dishes and do laundry. The campsite has a fire pit and picnic table, and firewood was sold on site. The campground was a bit loud during the day/evening, with people just having good clean fun. Once 10:00 pm hit the campground was very quiet and remained so all night long. There are many great sites in the loop with the restroom, but it's a matter of how far you want to be from the restroom. If you don't need the restroom access all that much then site 20 is awesome and provides amazing views of the prairie and night sky. The park offers a buggy ride of the prairie, which looked pretty fun. We couldn't do it, because the times didn't work or they were all booked on the days we had available.
Stargazing: This campground is a fabulous place for stargazing at night. The wide open prairie offers a huge sky to see and since it's so rural there is hardly no light pollution. You can walk outside and night and see tons of stars. That was awesome! For those who want to focus on only the stars, the campground offers a few "astronomy sites" that are in the prairie and away from the other two loops.
Trails: The Florida Trail now goes through this state park and you can hike/bike on it. We did lots of hiking, biking, and running on the trails here. There are numerous trail options throughout the park, giving you the ability to take a short hike, long hike, or to go bike riding. Keep in mind that with it being a prairie, there's very limited shade spots for a break. Take plenty of water, wear a hat/sunscreen, and be prepared. Even though the temperature showed it was only 70 when we were hiking, it felt much hotter under that blazing sun and open range. There is a gator hole area that is a short walk back. We only saw six of them there, but the ranger said that when things aren't so wet it's easy to see 50 of them back there at once. The trails were still pretty wet from hurricane Irma a couple of months ago and the rain that they have been getting.
Two thumbs up for Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park! This is a beautiful area of Florida and it offers some unique and wonderful opportunities for camping, hiking, biking, stargazing, and more. The state park was clean, well maintained, and we loved it. We'll be back! My son made a video of the park, which you can check out below.