Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park Florida
January 3, 2012 § 2 Comments
The preserve is an old cattle ranch northwest of Okeechobee Florida – right in the middle of nothing. The campground is located in one of the scattered clumps of live oak and palm trees around the remains of the original farmstead. In the early nineteen hundreds, an attempt was made to sell parcels of the ranch to northerners. A railroad was built to bring in visitors and prospects but the effort failed. The little that is left of the old homestead is somewhat run down and fenced off until it can be refurbished and made safe for visitors.
Florida took over the ranch some years ago and leased the unused portion back to the ranchers for their cattle. There are ongoing efforts to restore the area to the original prairie which borders the Kissimmee River.
The entire area reminds one of the African plains. It is flat as far as you can see. Being a long way from any large community the sky is totally black at night except for all the stars. Many astronomers gather near the campground in December and January to set up their telescopes and share stories. Every type of high powered telescope is represented – some housed in tents – others left on their tripods with cases covering the delicate parts. The only lights during the busy nights are red so night vision is not compromised. This picture of some of them setting up was taken during the day so there was enough light.
A park volunteer is usually on hand for the park visitors to share. This volunteer set up during the day to see sun spots.
When we first started going to Kissimmee Prairie some years ago, there were a lot of alligators in one of the larger water areas in the park but a drought drove them all away. They are now beginning to come back now that the water levels are becoming normal.
Part of the campground is equipped with horse paddocks for the riders who frequent park.
There is a lot of wildlife in the preserve but the area is so large that many sightings are found on the many trails. There are bobcats, caracaras, grasshopper sparrows, turkeys, mud puppies, and a lot more, The soaring turkey vultures are regularly in the sky.