Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park RV & Campground Guide
Chances are that prairies aren't the first thing you think of when you think about Florida. That's why Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, which sits between Gainesville and Ocala, is such an exciting spot. Brilliant green prairies and savannas stretch as far as the eye can see, creating a picture-perfect contrast with the blue sky. Wild horses and bison run free across this 22,000-acre park, and hundreds of bird species make their homes in the nearby marshes and trees. If you're lucky enough to visit after heavy rainfall, you'll witness the park's low-lying basin become a temporary lake. Plan a trip to this one-of-a-kind destination in any month because the weather is always warm and welcoming.
Spring 55-85 F
Summer 70-90 F
Fall 60-85 F
Winter 50-70 F
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RV Resorts & Campsites in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Stay cozy and dry during the summer thunderstorms and cool winter evenings when you bring your RV on a trip to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Not sure which model to commit to? An RV rental is the perfect way to try out one of your top choices.
Prairie Preserve State Park Campground
Spotting wildlife is easier when you book a site at the Prairie Preserve State Park campground. Your RV will be close to the best viewing areas, so you can be the first or last on the trail to avoid the crowds. Each of the RV sites offers both electric and water hookups as well as a picnic table, grill, and lantern post. All sites are back-in only. If you want the room to spread out, there are showers and restrooms in the park; use the dump station to get road-ready. Visiting on the weekend between November and February? Spend your Saturday night around the campfire during one of the park's fascinating ranger sessions. Campsites cost $18 per night plus tax and a reservation fee.
Ocala North RV Resort
Enjoy the convenience of full hookups at Ocala North RV Resort, which lies about 10 miles north of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Pull your RV under the tall trees and soak in the peaceful vibe. Then, walk over to the swimming pool for a dip. Each site comes with access to cable TV and Wi-Fi. If you're visiting in the winter, join in on one of the park's scheduled activities. Want more space to shower? Head over to the sparkling clean bathhouse. Nightly rates in the summer start at $49, and discounts for Good Sam members are available. In the winter, rates start at $55 per night.
RV Rentals Near Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Nearby RV Rentals
What to Do at
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Inside Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Prairie Preserve State Park covers a huge area, and the best way to see it is on foot or by bike. The park road is suitable for any type of bike, but you'll want a fat-tire bike for the trails. Hiking is another great option. Walk LaChua Trail for beautiful marsh views and the occasional alligator sighting, or head to the observation deck on Bolen Bluff Trail to see the park's other wildlife. At the end of Wacahoota Trail, you'll find a 50-foot observation tower for excellent views. Head to Lake Wauburg for excellent canoeing and bass fishing.
Outside Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Prairie Preserve State Park is near a large network of inland lakes and waterways, making the surrounding area a hotspot for paddling and fishing. If you want to go off-grid, the Ocala National Forest is a short drive away. With Gainesville just a few minutes to the north, finding a great meal is a breeze.
Dig into a home-cooked meal at the welcoming Pearl Country Store & Barbecue. Come after you've worked up an appetite in the park; you'll need it for the exceptional barbecued meat, indulgent sides, and incredible pies.
Location: 106 NE Hwy 441 A, Micanopy, FL 32667
Eat-in or grab a pizza to enjoy at your campsite at Blue Highway a Pizzeria. In addition to classic pizzas, this restaurant has a full menu of appetizers, salads, and paninis. If possible, grab a seat on the outdoor patio.
Location: 204 US-441 N, Micanopy, FL 32667
With a lovely outdoor patio framed by hanging moss, Old Florida Cafe lives up to its name. The menu is packed with sandwiches – the Cuban is particularly delicious. Leave room for one of the homemade desserts.
Location: 203 NE Cholokka Blvd, Micanopy, FL 32667
Run by a chef from Italy, Antonio's is the perfect place to get authentic Italian cuisine. Try a classic pasta or enjoy the Florida-inspired lobster ravioli and other seafood dishes.
Location: 22050 N US Hwy 441, Micanopy, FL 32667
Call ahead and ask for a table on the patio at Eagles Nest, which is located in the Grand Lake RV & Golf Resort. Here, you'll get the best views of the water while you enjoy a sandwich or a burger.
Location: 18545 NW 45th Ave Rd, Reddick, FL 32686
If you need a quick snack or a last-minute item for the kitchen in your RV, McIntosh Grocery Store is a convenient option. This small store has all of the essentials you need, and it's just seven miles from the park.
Location: 20675 9 St, McIntosh, FL 32664
Enjoy an afternoon of browsing and snacking at The Oaks Mall, which offers a variety of major stores and restaurants. It's indoors, making it a great option for hot or rainy days.
Location: 6419 W Newberry Rd, Gainesville, FL 32605
Super Cool Bike Shop lives up to its name. It's a great place to pick up a new helmet or water bottle so that you can experience all of Florida's excellent trails.
Location: 3460 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32607
Shop for all of the camping gear and outdoor apparel you need at REI. It's located a short drive north of the park in Gainesville.
Location: 3650 SW 32 Pl Suite 10, Gainesville, FL 32608
Located just outside the park entrance, Swamp Lily Mercantile is the ideal spot to pick up unique jewelry and gifts.
Location: 206 NE Cholokka Blvd, Micanopy, FL 32667
Fish Orange Lake
Break out your tackle box and make the short drive to Orange Lake. This huge body of water is shallow, but it's home to a big population of largemouth bass, redear sunfish, and bluegill. The best place to fish is Heagy-Burry Park. It has a large fishing pier and a fish-attracting system to increase your chances.
Location: Orange Lake, Florida
On a hot or rainy day, enjoy the comfortable atmosphere in the Florida Museum of Natural History. With its well-designed exhibits, this museum is a fun spot to spend a couple of hours. Check out dinosaur bones and learn about the creatures that once walked the grounds of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Admission is free, making this a great option for families or groups. If you love butterflies, don't miss a stroll through the stunning butterfly rainforest.
Location: Gainesville, Florida
Float down a crystal-clear, spring-fed river on a tube at Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Located about 45 miles north of Paynes Prairie, this is the perfect spot to cool off on a sweltering Florida summer day. Rent a tube or a kayak and float the Ichetucknee River, or bring your snorkeling gear and head to the Blue Hole. Keep an eye out for the enormous manatees that swim up the river when the ocean temperatures drop.
Location: Fort White, Florida
Juniper Springs Recreation Area offers another opportunity to see Florida’s remarkable natural springs. Here, you'll find a brilliant turquoise pool of water surrounded by lush foliage. Swim in the spring and watch the water wheel in the historic mill on-site. If you love to canoe or kayak, the nearby Juniper Run offers a magical, mysterious vibe as you float through the forest.
Location: Silver Springs, Florida
Just a few miles north in Gainesville, the Florida Gators entertain locals with a full schedule of football games. If you're visiting during the season, buy tickets online for one of the games and enjoy the fun, festive atmosphere.
Location: Gainesville, Florida
How to Get to
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is located in the center of Florida, easily accessible from either coast or the panhandle. To get there, drive to I-75; the park sits right off of the interstate about 13 miles south of Gainesville.
Entering Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park opens at 8 a.m. every day of the year and closes at sundown for day-use activities. Park facilities are available to campers 24/7.
Per vehicle (single occupant) : $4
Per vehicle (2-8 occupants) : $6
Extra passenger (cyclists and walk-ins) : $2
If you're planning a vacation in the unique landscape of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, we want to hear how it goes. As you share photos from the trip on Instagram or Facebook, feel free to tag RVshare so that we can follow along. We also welcome your photos and tips via email; send them to [email protected]