Florida State Parks – Fort Zachary Taylor

My friend Matt tied on a special fly to the end of his fishing line, one of his own design that he has since named the “pompinator” (less colorfully known as a #4 tan/olive clouser minnow). We had arrived with our buddies on a sunny Key West afternoon, chasing after the island’s best fly-fishing, swimming,…

Florida State Parks – Rainbow Springs

As my husband and I hopped out of the car and joined a large group of people streaming towards the park’s entrance gate, we were joining an even longer, metaphorical line of humans who have been visiting Rainbow Springs for over 10,000 years. The park encompasses the fourth largest spring in Florida, and right away…

Florida State Parks – Curry Hammock

The park’s kayaks had been carefully aligned in orderly rows, shining bright yellow and orange under a layer of morning dew. My friend Margaret and I picked up life jackets and paddles from the ranger station and then picked up our watercraft. The land within the park is made up of multiple islands, including Fat…

Florida State Parks – Oleta River

The setting sun splashed yellow and pink shades across the lapping water of Biscayne Bay. On the shores of Oleta River State Park, my friends and I felt captivated by the sunset spectacle. From where we stood on the sand, we found ourselves surrounded on one side by mangrove trees and forest. A wild fox…

Florida State Parks – Gamble Plantation

Everything had been carefully placed, from the glasses to the chairs to the portraits on the wall, to showcase what the Gamble Plantation could have looked like when first constructed by Major Robert Gamble in the 1840’s. The house itself was beautiful of course, but what really impressed me was the attention to detail that…

Florida State Parks – Fort Mose

Sitting on a quiet 40 acres along Robinson and Baya Creeks, Fort Mose Historic State Park invites both introspection and reflection. My first stop when visiting was to the museum, where I chatted with Ranger Steven Gard. Sounds over the loudspeaker brought me mentally to the 18th century settlement of Fort Mose, the tapping of…

Florida State Parks – MacArthur Beach State Park

I will easily admit it: I love nature centers. From the smallest displays to the grandest exhibits, I adore learning about local ecosystems and how people have historically interacted with the natural resources around them. The William T. Kirby Nature Center at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park did not disappoint! Read the rest on…

Florida State Parks – Paynes Prairie

“It’s a Great Horned Owl!” I exclaimed, leaning over the wooden railing of the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park Observation Tower. From our raised vantage point, my husband had spotted the raptor going after prey on the ground. 50 feet off the ground, the overlook offered tremendous views of the multi-colored prairie itself, as well…

Florida State Parks – Gold Head Branch

When European settlers first arrived on the eastern shores of Florida in the 18th century, sandhill ecosystems dominated the coast. Golden wiregrass swayed beneath the green needles of pine trees, a habitat now managed by staff at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park through regular prescribed burns. The landscape is mesmerizing. Read the rest…

Florida State Parks – Suwannee River

I stood atop a ridge, overlooking a majestic vista beneath my feet. Reflecting a deep blue from the sky above, the water of the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers came together in a giant “V”, currents coursing together for the remainder of the journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Read the rest on Firsthand Florida Fun!

Florida State Parks – San Felasco

As the end of 2016 drew near, my husband and I treated ourselves to a walk in the woods at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park in Alachua, FL. With an extensive trail network featuring hiking, biking, and horseback riding opportunities, we had a lot of routes to choose from. Read the rest on Firsthand…

Florida State Parks – Lake Jackson Archeological Mounds

Sun streamed through the wide canopy of huge Live Oaks growing in front of the historic remains at Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park. The trees were some of the largest oaks I had seen in a long time, but even they were dwarfed by the earthen temple mounds rising behind them. Read the rest…