Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Micanopy

#1 of 7 in Things to do in Micanopy
Must see · State Park · Wildlife Area
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is a Florida State Park, encompassing a 21,000-acre (85 km2) savanna in Alachua County, Florida lying between Micanopy and Gainesville. It is also a U.S. National Natural Landmark. It is crossed by both I-75 and U.S. 441 (which has a scenic outlook ramp). It is in the center of the Paynes Prairie Basin. The basin's primary source of drainage is Alachua Sink. During occasional wet periods, the basin will become full. A notable period occurred from 1871 to 1891 when the Alachua Sink was temporarily blocked. During this period, shallow draft steamboats were a frequent sight on Alachua Lake in the center of the prairie. The region was also historically known as the Alachua Savannah. Its drainage has been modified by several canals. Since 1927, Camps Canal has linked the basin to the River Styx which leads to Orange Lake and eventually the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Johns River. That reduced the basins water intake by half. Additional changes to the prairie's environment have been detrimental to its hydrology. In 1970, the state of Florida acquired the land and has been in the process of restoring the environment to a more natural condition ever since.
Heavy rains have temporarily restored Alachua Lake on several occasions, most recently in September 2017, when Hurricane Irma dropped several inches of rain and damaged a levee, flooding much of the basin for months.
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Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park reviews

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278 reviews
  • Best laid-out, maintained, quiet campsites anywhere! Bathrooms very clean and showers have a pegged shelf and bench i the "antiroom" which make them so convenient to use. Several total miles of...  more »
  • We visited with the hope of seeing some bison which we did not see when we visited in 2009. We were fortunate to see about 8 of them from the observation tower at the back of the main section of the.....  more »
  • I love this place whenever you want a piece of mind you can always guarantee that this place is it.. I love nature and there's lots of it and I got to see all kinds of different Critters.. when you're here you feel like you're in a different world and almost as if you're not in Florida with everything that's around you there's some great hiking trails if you've got the energy to check them out if you're looking for something new and different each time you go I bet you can find something that you've never done before!!
  • This reserve is wonderful! If you love to hike and experience wildlife up close, then this is the place for you. My family and I got to see the wild free roaming bison and horses this go around which is a rare treat! Be sure to have your bug spray ready and expect some of the trails to have some closures during the raining season and you will enjoy your time here immensely!

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