Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

PaynesPrairieEntranceArea (16)Our stay at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park was a pleasant. So nice in fact that we decided to stay there two more times before our first Camp Hosting assignment. On our first visit in January we discovered that we could actually get one or two TV stations from Gainesville with just our antennae and the internet service was pretty good between 2 to 4 bars depending. There are literally miles of trails to hike or bike down, there is the prairie to view from several spots within the main park as well as from U.S. 441. We didn’t get a chance to climb the Tower near the visitor’s center on our first visit but were told by the volunteer that if you get up early enough in the morning, campers can go almost anytime, and climb the tower you just might see the buffalo, wild horses and various other wildlife that call the prairie home. She explained that there are approximately 40 or 50 buffalo left in the park and quite a few wild horses as well. You cannot swim within the park and the only fishing seems to be from a boat, canoe or kayak that you can put in on the lake from the boat launch in the day use area. Across the lake you can see a swimming area with little paddle boats, canoes, etc. but we found out that those are strictly for the University of Florida students, staff and alumni that have passes.

While we were there the squirrels decided that our RV and minivan might be an excellent winter abode. We encourage anyone who is staying in the campground to check your vehicles thoroughly before starting them up to make sure you don’t get a hitchhiker or two. One of them, unfortunately, decided to crack some acorns on our battery and we heard a little squeak when we started the car. I couldn’t find him or her inside in the engine and hope we only got a portion of their tail. On our second visit I was checking the oil when I noticed a clump of leaves, twigs and stuff matted up against the battery and radiator. No animal visitors inside the clump but we had to clean that up as well.

The campground is very nice, a little cramped at some of the sites as they try to fit in everyone cheek to jowl but most of them have trees and bushes separating the sites from one another. They have a fire pit, picnic table and lantern pole at each site along with water and electricity. Some of the sites have additional tent pads but there is a designated tent only camping area near the back of the camping area. This park has two large bath houses to accommodate everyone with three showers, three bathroom stalls and three sinks. They also have a long bench inside the bathhouse in case you have to wait your turn to use the showers or stalls. The water is hot and plentiful. The bathrooms are always clean but there is not heat or air conditioning. Although both bath houses have ADA showers they both need repairs or replacements. One shower seat is going bad and in the other house the seat has been taken out. It is very dark in the camping area so if you need to use the facilities after dark make sure you bring along a flashlight.

Campers can access the children’s playground and the amphitheater down a sidewalk in the back of the camping area. The day use areas have lots of parking, picnic tables and their own bathroom as well. The visitors center is all the way in the back of the park and you have to go down a long sidewalk to get to it as well. During our first visit they were working on the sidewalks leading into the center and were detoured around down a winding trail. The visitors center is open during the day and is FREE to browse around the many interesting displays. There is an observation deck on the second floor but it is difficult to see the prairie area from there for all the trees. When we left the center we decided to take the sidewalk back because we were told that there was an eagle’s nest just up from there. We saw the eagles soaring in the sky and you cannot miss the nest it was huge sitting on top of a very large pine tree. There is another bathroom with picnic tables a little ways down the sidewalk and more trails behind. We were too tired to try them out that day.

There are no laundry facilities in the park. You have to go into Gainesville to find most of what you need including, coin laundries, better gas prices, grocery stores, etc. Just head north on U.S. 441. We ventured out several times into Gainesville and almost every time, especially close to sunset you will find people parked along both sides of the road looking out onto the prairie. There is an observation deck as well. But what struck us as a little strange were the number of musicians out there. One time there was a young girl with a guitar singing, the sun going down behind her and her companions filming while she did. Another time we saw a young man with a set of drums just playing next to the road. I don’t know if they are there for the acoustics or the backdrop.

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
100 Savannah Boulevard
Micanopy, FL 32667-9702
(352)466-3397
https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Paynes-Prairie

31 RV and Tent Sites All are Backin
14 Tent Sites Only

30Ft 30amp 1
37ft 30amp 1
39ft 30amp 1
40ft 30amp 3
41ft 30amp 1
44ft 30amp 3
45ft 30amp 1
46ft 30amp 2
48ft 30amp 2
53ft 30amp 3
56ft 30amp 1
*************
41ft 50amp 3
44ft 50amp 2
45ft 50amp 2
46ft 50amp 1
47ft 50amp 1
48ft 50amp 2
58ft 50amp 1

Fee Schedule
Main Entrance Admission
$6.00 per vehicle, limit 2-8 people per vehicle
$4.00 Single Occupant Vehicle
$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass

LaChua Trail Admission
$2.00 per person

Bolen Bluff Admission
$2.00 per vehicle, limit 8 people

Picnic Pavilion Rental
$30.00 plus tax – Picnic pavilion seats 65 people.

Camping Fee:
$18.00 per night, plus tax. Includes water and electricity.
Florida residents who are 65 years of age or older or who hold a social security disability award certificate or a 100 percent disability award certificate from the Federal Government are permitted to receive a 50 percent discount on current base campsite fees (Proof of eligibility).

Group Camping (hike in only)
$4.00 per person, plus tax (minimum of $20.00 per night).

WHERE TO GET WHAT YOU NEED

LAUNDRY

Gator Spirit Food Store & Coin Laundry
1620 W. University Ave
Gainesville, Fl 32603
(353) 372-8178

SW Thirty Fourth Street Plaza Laundry
2130 SW 34th St
Gainesville, FL 32608
(352) 374-9595

DJ Coin Laundries Inc
405 NE 23rd Ave
Gainesville, Fl 32609
(352) 367-0020

Phoenix Laundry
2320 SW 31st Place
Gainesville, FL 32608
(352) 371-2763

A-Best Coin Laundry
2411 Southwest 13th St
Gainesville, FL 32608
(352) 336-0720

GAS

Pearl Country Store
106 NE Highway 441
Micanopy, FL 32667
(352) 466-4025
http://www.pearlcountrystore.com

Kangaroo
101 NW Highway 441
Micanopy, FL 32667
(352)466-3444

Marathon
3423 SW Williston Rd
Gainesville, FL 32608
(352) 505-3847

BP
3453 SW Williston Rd
Gainesville, Fl 32608
(352) 264-3880

Kangaroo
3424 SW Williston Rd
Gainesville, FL 32608
(352) 377-3997

GROCERIES

Publix Super Market
5200 SW 34th Street
Gainesville, Fl 32608
(352) 375-1094

Winn Dixie
300 SW 16 Ave
Gainesville, Fl 32601
(352) 336-9700

Winn Dixie
3503 SW Archer Rd
Gainesville, Fl 32608
(352) 376-6697

SUPPLIES

Wal-Mart
3570 SW Archer Rd
Gainesville, Fl 32608
(352) 371-3171

PROPANE

Suburban Propane
2350 SW Archer Rd
Gainesville, Fl 32608
(352) 376-5651

Heritage Propane
4301 NW 6th Street
Gainesville, Fl 32609
(352) 376-4678

Ferrellgas
1421 NW 53rd Ave
Gainesville, Fl 32609
(352) 372-1424

U-Haul at University of Florida
802 N Main Street
Gainesville, Fl 32601
(352) 373-8533

RESTAURANTS

Too many to list in Gainesville. Just Head North on US 441 into Gainesville and just about any restaurant you want can be found.

Pearl Country Store and Barbecue
106 NE Highway 441
Micanopy, Fl 32667
(352) 466-4025
http://www.pearlcountrystore.com

Old Florida Cafe
203 NE 1st Street
Micanopy, Fl 32667
(352) 466-3663

Blue Highway A Pizzeria
204 U.S. 441
Micanopy, Fl 32667
(352) 466-0062
http://www.bluehighwaypizza.com

MEDICAL SERVICES

CareSpot Gainesville Shands
720 SW 2nd Ave Ste 160A
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 240-8000
www.carespot.com

Emergency Physicians Medical Center
2445 76th Street, Ste 110
Gainesville, Fl 32608
(352) 872-5111
http://emergencypmc.com

North Florida Regional Medical Center
6500 W Newberry Rd
Gainesville, Fl
(352) 333-4000
www.nfrmc.com

Shands Hospital
1515 SW Archer Rd
Gainesville, Fl 32608
(855) 483-7426
http://ufandshands.org

Here is our pictorial review of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park outside of Gainesville, Florida: