a floridays journey

a floridays journey

Trip 4 – Kissimmee Prarie State Park

RV parked under Live Oaks
Date:March 26 – 27, 2022
Location:Kissimmee Prarie State Park
Type:Electric – 30 amp
Water – Yes
Campsite #34
Mileage:196 miles
What we learned:Take more water on bike rides
Would we go back:Yes

This trip was unexpected. Wayne and I were sitting in Floridays having happy hour in the driveway and we both looked at each other and said I wonder if there are any spots open at Kissimmee Prarie State Park. We both had a rough week at work and wanted to just relax. Back in February, when we were visiting Istapoga, we did a drive-through of the Kissimmee Praire on our way home. We talked to the lady in the office and she mentioned that they call the campers each Friday to make sure they are arriving. If someone cancels they open the campsites for reservations. Not all parks do this. So I looked to see if there were any open spots and wouldn’t you know a spot was open. So I booked us a campsite.

The great thing about a van is it is easy to just go. We had most of our clothes already packed and all we needed was food and to put the e-bikes on the van. We planned to stop at Publix for food on the way and off we went.

On the 2-hour drive Saturday morning to the park, we saw 2 bald eagles, and 1 caracara, and at the park on the drive in we saw 2 quail, a gator, and a meadowlark. We stopped at the big turn, walked down the path, and saw 10-11 large and I mean large alligators sunning themselves. These gators were larger than most gators I have seen down in the Everglades and Big Cypress. Maybe they seemed larger because they were right off the trail, they were at least 12-13 feet long.

We checked in and set up camp. Our setup is pretty minimal, we plugged in the electricity, and set out the rug, and 2 chairs. We took the bikes off the van and we were off exploring. We went down Military Trail trying to find the river, the Kissimmee River. (see the red route on map) Seeing trees in the distance we thought we were almost there but then it opened to Prarie again and then more trees. The view of the river was not much, but we saw a swallowtail kite and later learned there was a nest nearby. On our way back we stopped in the hardwood hammock for a cookie and water and I noticed something on the ground. I have wanted to see this forever and here I am in the middle of Florida seeing 2 dung beetles rolling dung. SCORE!! See below for the video. I was on cloud nine. It did not matter that my legs were all bruised and that I fell off the bike. We made it back to camp with a few bruises and many memories. With a well-deserved rum drink in our hands, we reviewed the adventurous day we had.

I believe these are Florida deepdigger scarab beetles rolling a ball of dung.

The grasshopper sparrow is the bird to see here. I believe I saw a few but as I was unable to get a photo I cannot be sure. But there were many small birds flying off the trail and then landing back down behind the palmettos. I am sure one was a grasshopper sparrow.

In the morning Wayne and I rode our bikes to the office to see if we could get on the last buggy ride of the year but everyone showed up so we were out of luck. This gives us a great excuse to come back next season. The buggies run Nov – March and cost $40 per person. After a talk with the lady in the office, we went back down the Military trail on our bikes to see if we could see the caracaras. She mentioned they hang out on the top of a cabbage palm that had no fronds. No luck. We came back on the Prarie Loop Trail which was beautiful. We even saw some pine iris blooming. (See yellow route on map)

On the van ride out of the park which took us over an hour to go 5 miles, we saw more meadowlarks, maybe grasshopper sparrows, medium size gators, and about four smaller gators on the side of the road. We looked for loggerhead shrikes and burrowing owls but did not see any. Maybe next time.

Kissimmee Prarie is also a dark park. Maybe next time we will have the energy to do some night photography.

The Merlin Bird ID app from The Cornell Lab is a great tool to use to identify birds by their song.

NOTE: All photos and videos are the property of Wayne and Margaret Shoemake. If you want to use them, please click on the contact us page and email us.