a floridays journey

a floridays journey

Trip 6 – Kissimmee Prarie State Park

RV with bikes on back in front of a sign
Date:May 6 – 9, 2022
Location:Kissimmee Prarie State Park
Type:Water, 30 amp
Campground:Site #34
Mileage:196 miles
What we learned:How to cook on our new Power XL grill
Would we come back?Yes

We took a half day off on Friday to get out of town early so we could enjoy all that Kissimmee Prarie has to offer. We were here a few months back for just a night and felt we needed to explore some more.

Animal sitings for the trip: 4 spoonbills, 2 woodpeckers, 2 caracaras, a red-winged blackbird, 10 turkeys (male and female), 14 deer, fireflies, green snake, 25 alligators, 6 bobwhite quail, 1 katydid, 6 cows, 2 owls, 1 black racer snake, 1 nightjar, 3 bunnies, 6 loggerhead shrike kills

Non-animal sitings: Numerous wildflowers and a cowboy with dogs herding cattle

We fell in love with Kissimmee Prarie on this trip as we had more time to explore more of the dry prairie habitat. We arrived at camp at about 5:30 pm and got settled in. Wayne plugged in the Power XL grill for our hamburger dinner, which was tasty.

On Saturday, we rode our e-bikes out Five Mile Prarie Trail, which starts at the Astronomy Pad area and connected with the South Pasture Trail, and then headed north on Peavine Rd and then out to Double Trail. (see the red line on the map below.) I had my Sony Camera and long lens hoping to get pictures of the alligators with their mouths open. Unfortunately, the gators were on the other side of the pond and not in a very good location. So we continued scouting the area to see what else we could see. The lady in the office told us to look for impaled animals on the barbed-wired fences. The loggerhead shrike catches and then impales beetles, wasps, frogs, and lizards on the barbed-wire fences to dry them out and attract females. I guess he is showing off what a good provider he is. Well, I just love to see nature do its thing so I kept scanning the fence for these little nuggets. Wouldn’t you know it my scanning skills paid off and we found some beetles. Having the long lens was a little challenging. I got some photos but we decided to come back on Sunday with a macro lens to really get the photo. The sky started to look like a thunderstorm was brewing and if you know me I hate lightning so we headed back to camp. In the afternoon the skies cleared and we went out exploring the Pararie Loop Trail by the office. The wildflowers we out in full force. There were deer and we heard a lot of different birds. Meadowlarks, hawks, bobwhites quail, and of course the grasshopper sparrow. The trail with the wildflowers made for some really good pictures. The e-bikes did great on the sand trails and with the springs in my bike seat, I hardly noticed the rough trails which are caused by the wild hogs digging up the ground in search of the young shoots. Back to the camp for dinner – Wayne’s Famous Dolphin sandwiches.

Sunday morning, we decided to bike out to the same trail as yesterday but venture further. From the map, it looks like you can go from Double Trail to Seven Mile Slough Trail to Audubon Trail, and come out at the main park road, Peavine Road. (see the blue line on the map above) We were excited as we had the right lenses to capture the images we wanted. I was able to get some really good beetles and wasps impaled on the fence and Wayne got some really good wildflower scenes. The trails run along the border of Cattle Lease Patrure Land where we had seen some cows the day before. But today was different, as each day in nature is. I heard some yips and I had to take out my iPhone really fast as a real Florida cowboy was riding his horse, dogs running alongside as they were herding the cows into another pasture. It was really cool to see. The dogs, the horse, and the cowboy all act as one unit to move the cattle. I got 1 picture and they were off. We continued on and admired the beauty of the prairie and wildflowers. This is May and Florida is at the end of the dry season. We came upon water that continued to get deeper and more dense with alligator flag, Thalia geniculata. Now it was getting a little sketchy and we did not know how much farther it was to the main road. I believe Wayne uttered his famous words “I have ceased having fun.” We turned around and started the 8-mile trek back to camp. We made it back safely, wet, and tired, and can still say we had fun. We took showers and lounged around camp for the rest of the day.

Monday we woke up refreshed and ready to explore. We rode the bikes out the Kilpatrick Prarie Trail to the South boundary of the park. (see the yellow line on the map above) The trail was smooth in places but really bumpy in others. There were deer and butterflies all over the wildflowers. We got back to camp, packed up the bikes, and checked out. On the drive out of the park, we went really slow and looked for wildlife and we found some baby alligators, deer, and a caracara.

We will definitely be coming back to this park as there are still things to explore and see. The park is considered a dark sky park so I will try to book us a few nights during a new moon. Next season we will come back for a swamp buggy ride and maybe they will go on the trail we were on and we can see how close we really were to making the loop before we had to turn back.

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.