Standard (tent/RV)
Tent Cabin
RV Sites
Tent Sites
Fires Allowed
Pets Allowed
Drinking Water
About Paynes Prairie State Park
Drive In
Walk In
Hike In
Boat In
ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Electric Hookups
Fires Allowed
Firewood Available
Pets Allowed
Phone Service
Picnic Table
Sanitary Dump
Sewer Hookups
Trash Available
Water Hookups
Paynes Prairie State Park is located in Florida
29.519 N
-82.298 W
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15 Reviews of Paynes Prairie State Park
Relaxing campground

We stayed in site #38 it's a shaded site with water & electric. There is a picnic table & a fir pit the fire pit was a little to close to the camper to have a fire. It is a very quiet and woodsy campground. There isn't much real close by so grocery before you get there.  There are some hikes in the park that are good you can see wild horses near the lookout tower sometimes and along the paths.  There is a dump station onsite.

There are several places to go observe the wetlands, shorebirds and gators can be seen. If you drive to North Paynes Prairie you will see lots of Gators, Bison and wild horses and certain times of the year White Pelicans. The trail along the lake & creeks are loaded with gator once you head to the back lookout tower you will see Bison & Wild Horses. We counted 150 gators in a mile & a half. If you google horse stomping gator in Paynes Prairie you will see a great video. 

On the way to the North Prairie you pass Sweetwater preserve it's loaded with all kinds of birds from Woodstorks, Herons, Egrets, Hawks, Ibis and Sora's. You can spend hours there watching the birds. There are some gators but nothing like North Prairie.

Watched the sunset for the picnic area on the lake.


Lots of trails to hike and all kinds of wildlife to see. Mosquitoes can be pretty bad around dusk in some areas.

Nice camping and great park with lots of wildlife!

We really enjoyed this park. We camped at a tent only site which was private as there weren’t many tent campers while we were there during the week. Stayed at site 31 which is probably the furthest walk from parking but the most private. We saw wild bison, wild turkeys, deer, snakes, and several different species of birds. Disappointed we didn’t see any wild horses but will most definitely be back. Beautiful part of Florida.

Private with great wildlife viewing close to the city

Except for the noise of the highway, you would never guess you were 10 minutes from a major metropolitan city. The campground is very private with lots of trees and palms separating sites, especially in the tent loops. The tent sites are walk in, with some closer than others. I took site #23 for the night, which was set back just enough to the private, but not so far as to really haul my gear. Each tent site has a numbered parking space as well. There seemed to be about 10-12 tent only sites and the remainder of the 50 sites had hook-ups for RVs. The bathhouse was clean and modern, and well taken care of. 

A two mile hike will take you the visitors center, from which you can climb the observation tower to look over the prairie and have access to several trails. It was really wet when I was there which meant that several trails were partially closed. But I still managed to hike several miles over several trails. I never did see the Cracker Wild Spanish Horses or the bison, but did see lots of signs in the form of poop. I also didn’t see any gators, but did get to see lots of birds of various size and variety.

Well Kept and Friendly Staff

Definitely one of the more popular destinations in the area because of the buffalo and wild horses, so this park camping and RV parking gets a lot of attention from rangers. The facilities are very clean and staff are courteous, grounds are well-kept and events (like baby alligator educational sessions) are above-par.

Not their fault (the state sets pricing) but primitive campsites are the same price as reserved ones with hookups, $18.

There is plenty of hiking in the park, but it’s also close to other inexpensive trails around Gainesville.

Very nice affordable campground

Very close to the University of Florida. Nice campground recently renovated.


Nice campground. Clean and well maintained. Very shady site, but tons of mosquitoes. We went in late October. Nice preserve to walk or bike to. Observation tower. Saw wild horses in the prairie. Visitor’s Center very helpful with information.

Gorgeous Wildlife

Many opportunities to spot wildlife close by. The camp is frequented by college students. Bathrooms are clean. Plenty of hiking to be found. Buffalo, deer, eagles, alligators, owls….Visit Sweetwater.

My favorite place!

People ask me my favorite place camping and this place is my answer. We got to see so many different animals. The park is a bit different than others, you drive outside the park to different locations within the park.

Our first night camping was difficult to sleep because of our college camping neighbors. They had a great time, but it was an isolated incident. Besides that, we got to see so many animals. The park is still damaged from hurricane Irma.

I highly recommend this state park!

Beautiful. Well kept, plenty of wildlife and trails. Buffalo, wild horses

Well kept, clean bathhouses, bring bug spray