Kevin Patton, Park Manager
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is a wonderful diverse landscape with a rich history and tremendous wildlife viewing opportunities. Nearly12,000 years ago, the Paleo Native American big game hunters are the earliest evidence of human activity on the prairie basin. They hunted the megafauna that roamed Florida at the end of the last Ice Age.
Human activity on and around the preserve spans from these early hunters to modern times and encompasses Native American cultures and the Spanish and English colonial periods. People have been drawn to the area's diverse wildlife and natural resources for many years.
In 1970, the state of Florida purchased Paynes Prairie as the Florida Park Service’s first state preserve, with the goal of future generations being able to enjoy a pristine example of the original Florida.
Paynes Prairie provides many opportunities for outdoor recreational activities. If hiking is something you enjoy, Paynes Prairie has over 30 miles of trails for you to explore. If you have your own canoe or kayak and enjoy paddling, Prairie Creek runs from the south end of Newnan’s Lake to Camps Canal and can provide for a nice, peaceful day trip. Paddlers can put in on State Road 20 and either paddle into Newnan’s Lake, which is over 7,000 acres, or take a trip down the creek to Camps Canal for 4.5 miles to County Road 234.
Also available for paddlers is Lake Wauberg, a 300-acre lake located on the south end of the preserve near the town of Micanopy. All of these water bodies have an ample supply of fish. You can catch bass, bream and speckled perch (black crappie). Bring a rod and reel and you can provide for a tasty meal after a day on the water.
If you enjoy birding, Paynes Prairie is a world class destination to view a large and diverse variety of birds. This activity can be enjoyed throughout the year but during the winter months, when most of the migratory birds arrive on site, is the best time.
Paynes Prairie has a 50-site campground located off U.S. 441 near Micanopy. Both tent and RV camping can be accommodated. The campground can be very busy throughout the year so if you plan on camping with us please plan ahead and make your reservation by calling 800-326-3521 or visiting the Florida State Parks Reservations website.
The staff at Paynes Prairie provide interpretive programing seasonally and upon request throughout the year. Please visit our homepage for updates on educational programs and events.
Come visit us at Paynes Prairie and enjoy the awesome vistas and natural beauty while enjoying a multitude of recreational activities.