Manager's Message

Donald Forgione, Park Manager

Donald Forgione, Park Manager

Thank you for your interest in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Our park rangers and volunteers look forward to your visit. Whether you are visiting for the day or plan on camping with us for a week, Paynes Prairie has much to offer. This is a great time to explore the park and immerse yourselves in the Real Florida.

We are excited about our wide array of events that will enhance your visit:

  • Weekly on Saturday mornings, we welcome you to join us for Coffee with a Ranger from 9 to 10 a.m. at the campground. 
  • Also on Saturdays, enjoy a 1-mile ranger-led hike along the Rim Ramble Trail in an area of the park usually inaccessible to visitors. 
  • On Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., join us for our Journey of a Naturalist program to learn about William Bartram’s visit in 1774, as well as our park’s history, flora and fauna. 

From October through April, we offer several monthly events, including an evening of star-gazing at Hickory Ranch (December through March). Members of the Alachua Astronomy Club provide high-power telescopes and enthusiastic commentary to enhance your dark skies viewing, and s’mores are provided around the campfire. A limited number of tickets are available in advance via Dates to be announced. On the first Thursday of each month, enjoy juggling (4 to 5 p.m.) or yoga (5:30 to 6:45 p.m.) at our visitor center. We also host various presenters at the visitor center who share stories and photos of their travel adventures or on other topics. 

We are constantly in the process of developing new and exciting special exhibits at the visitor center - so if you haven't been out in a while come take a look.

Water levels are currently high on the prairie, and that's a great thing for the park. Periods of naturally occurring high water play an important role in maintaining the unique and significant ecosystem at the prairie. Be sure to visit La Chua Trail for a rare opportunity to walk over the water on the raised boardwalk and experience the prairie while water levels are still high. The views are beautiful, and it's a great place and time of year for seeing wildlife at the park. The grassy portion of the trail past the boardwalk remains closed due to high water, but this trail is still well worth the visit.

So load up the family and the kids down the road and enjoy Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.