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Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)

Looking north from the Prairie observation tower
Location Alachua County, Florida, USA
Nearest city Gainesville, Florida
Coordinates 29°34′59″N 82°19′59″W / 29.5830556°N 82.3330556°W / 29.5830556; -82.3330556Coordinates: 29°34′59″N 82°19′59″W / 29.5830556°N 82.3330556°W / 29.5830556; -82.3330556
Area 21,000 acres (85 km2)
Established 1971
Governing body Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Paynes Prairie is a Florida State Park, encompassing a 21,000-acre (85 km2) savanna south of Gainesville, Florida, in Micanopy. 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).



The 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.

There have been times when the prairie's drainage become 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.


Over 270 species of birds can be seen in the park as well as American Alligators and small herds of Plains Bison, Florida Cracker Horses and Florida Cracker cattle first herded by the Seminoles. The bison were reintroduced to the park from Oklahoma in the mid 1970s. As a part of the park service goal of restoring Florida's natural resources to pre-European settler conditions, the bison were reintroduced because they once roamed this area until the early 1800s. It is rare to see them, but the best place to look for them is along the Cone's Dike trail.

Recreational activities

The park contains exhibits and an audio-visual program at the visitor center that explains the area's natural and cultural history. A 50-foot (15 m)-high observation tower near the visitor center provides a panoramic view of the preserve. Eight different trails provide opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling. Ranger-led activities are offered on weekends, November through April. Fishing on Lake Wauburg is allowed and a boat ramp provides access for canoes and boats with electric motors. Full-facility campsites are available for overnight visitors.

The park is a 'gateway site' for the Great Florida Birding Trail.


Florida state parks are open between 8 A.M. and sundown every day of the year (including holidays).


See also

References and external links



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