Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Micanopy

#61 of 183 in Nature in Florida
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is a Florida State Park, encompassing a 21000acre savanna in Micanopy, Florida, south of 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).HistoryThe prairie became the stronghold of the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe under chief Ahaya the Cowkeeper in the 18th century. It is named for the Cowkeeper's eldest surviving son, Payne.In 1776 the area, then known as Alachua Savannah, was visited by William Bartram who noted in his book, "Bartram's Travels", that it was used as grazing ground by the local Seminole.There have been times when the prairie's drainage became so blocked that it flooded, causing the formation of a lake. The most recent such occurrence was in 1871, and lasted until 1886. During this period, steamboats were a frequent sight on what was called Alachua Lake.
Plan my trip to Micanopy with suggested itineraries provided by Inspirock.
Create an itinerary including Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
226 reviews
  • The State Park at Paines Prairie has everything to show out of towners what Central Florida is like. Aligators, Buffalo, Wild Horses, swamp and prairie. From long treks through the woods, hikes out in...  more »
  • Paynes Prairie is a wonderful way to visit Old Florida prairies with the family. You'll see a variety of wildlife depending on the time of year. Take the trails that are provided and you'll get up clo...  more »
  • I have been there hiking and riding our horses. Super nice both ways. Natural, clean, inspiring. Worth traveling to see the nature and wildlife. I will visit again.  more »
  • This place is magical. There is much to see. Many species of birds can be observed here including herons, cranes, eagles, hawks, and many more. Many large while animals can be seen here as well such as bison, wild horses, deer, alligators, and wild boar. This place is very diverse in wildlife as well as plants. There are many entrances to the park and many changes in environment. Most of the Prairie is marshland, then there is a more swampy side, a drainage sink, and some slightly higher dry ground as well. Currently, since hurricane Irma, a large percentage of the Prairie is flooded more than its been in many years. However, most of the entrances and lookouts are still accessible. Now is a great time to visit of seeking wildlife observation because so much is flooded that many animals are forced to roam on the edges where the parks are.
  • What struck me when I first walked out into the prairie was how vast it is—majestic and huge and beautiful. We parked at several of the various entrances and walked bits of trail, and we loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, the prairie is flooded right now (November 2017), so many of the walking trails, and both of the observation towers in the north of the prairie are flooded and inaccessible beyond a short distance. However, in the short distance we could walk, we saw many different species of bird and we saw five or six white tailed deer. It wasn't until we parked near the visitor center (which has an impressive observation tower next to it) that we saw horses. We also walked on Cone's Dike trail, and we saw a mare and her foal, which was awesome! We saw two more deer on this trail, as well. Never did see bison, sadly, but the park ranger said they haven't been in the prairie recently, probably due to flooding. Such a cool and refreshing natural place to walk and be; definitely check it out!
  • Great state park. Trails galore. Wildlife. And I mean wild life. Gators bison gators birds snakes turtles just to name a few with no fences or barriers between you and the animals. Have a great time and respect the land.
  • Amazing area! Super fun to learn how this landscape was shaped! Large variety of animals including Gators! Huge trees. Lots of birds! Staff was there when I went to answer questions! Very nice visit!!!
  • The sencery was like you were looking at a picture! The wildlife is beautiful if you get lucky enough to spot the wild buffalo and horses! The trails are very peaceful. I recommend to walk instead of bike otherwise you miss so much! But I do have to say that there is no wheelchair access, unlike Wetwater.

Plan your trip to Micanopy

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Where to stay in Micanopy

Browse hotels, guesthouses, and unique homes and book your stay on the world's leading accommodation sites.
Live like a local, find unique places to stay
Millions of travel reviews on TripAdvisor