Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Welcome to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Paynes Prairie is biologically, geologically and historically unique. This park became Florida´s first state preserve in 1971 and is now designated as a National Natural Landmark. Noted artist and naturalist William Bartram called it the great Alachua Savannah when he wrote about his visit to the prairie in 1774.
More than 20 distinct biological communities provide a rich array of habitats for wildlife and livestock, including alligators, bison, horses and more than 270 species of birds. Exhibits and an audio-visual program at the visitor center explain the area´s natural and cultural history. A 50-foot-high observation tower near the visitor center provides a panoramic view of the preserve.
Eight trails provide opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling, including the 16 mile long, paved Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail. Fishing on Lake Wauburg is allowed and a boat ramp provides access for canoes and boats with electric motors. Gasoline powered boats are not allowed. Full-facility campsites are available for overnight visitors. Annual special events include Stargazing Party in January and Fire Fest in March. Other events and ranger programs are available on weekends, November through April.
Information About American Bison at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
We understand that visitors to Paynes Prairie have a special connection to the park and the bison, and the Florida Park Service is committed to doing what's right by both. Management of the livestock at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park must not only be guided by what is best for the park's natural resources, but also by what is best for the health of the livestock and the safety of park visitors. The Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park Livestock Management Plan established guidelines for the management of the park's livestock that ensure protection of the park's natural resources and address concerns about livestock health, genetic diversity and public safety. For more information, please review our Frequently Asked Questions.