Lake Kissimmee State Park in Florida is situated on the quiet banks of Lake Kissimmee, Lake Rosalie, and Tiger Lake. A 19-mile drive will get you to Lake Wales, the closest town to the park.
Visitors to this Florida State Park can enjoy the different habitats found in the park, like forest, floodplain, flatwoods, and prairie. These are just some of the 12 different natural bodies in the park that are home to over 30 species of fauna and flora. The scrubby flatwoods and pine allow RVers to see various wildlife species like Florida scrub-jays, white-tailed deer, gray fox, gopher tortoises, and Sherman fox squirrels. The park has a couple of hundred different species of birds in its borders, making it the perfect birding destination.
At the park, RVers can be out in nature and enjoy exploring Lake Kissimmee, Lake Rosalie, or Tiger Lake using non-motorized boats, kayaks, or canoes. From the shore, you can explore the surrounding habitats and see a variety of wildlife by hiking along over 13 miles of trails. For horse lovers, there are six miles of horseback riding trails available to explore the park. At night, campers will love the dark skies that offer breathtaking views of the stars above. Several pavilions with picnic facilities are available, and they offer the ideal location for a family reunion. The pavilions are also perfect for outdoor weddings. A small fee will be required if you want to reserve a pavilion for your special occasion.
Lake Kissimmee State Park is a little over 70 miles away from Orlando. RVers with bigger rigs traveling north towards Lake Wales should avoid CR-630. Although this road provides a beautiful scenic drive, there are multiple clearance issues along the way involving railroad tracks. RVers should stick to I-98 or US-17, which offer smooth sailing all the way to Lake Wales. The park is located just off FL-17, and once RVers reach Lake Wales, they won't have any problem finding the entrance. The roads nearing the park are paved and clearly marked. However, once you enter the park, you will be driving on dirt roads, so make sure to drive carefully and watch out for obstacles.
The surrounding area is dotted with lakes and other parks and conservation areas to visit. While you are in the area, you can visit a variety of these, including the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area, which offers 60 miles of trails and seasonal hunting and fishing, and the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, which is home to many rare and endangered species. It is famous for birding, photography, and stargazing —you can spot the Milkyway without using binoculars or a telescope!
Campers and day visitors will find ample parking on the east side of the park near the pavilions.
This campsite is ideal for youth camps or scout camps. This campsite is situated nearby the RV campground and has ample shade. There are two primitive tent camping sites, and each one is able to sleep up to 25 people. You must have at least 12 campers to be allowed to book the site. Parking is provided a short 200 feet journey away from the campsites. Restrooms, cold showers are provided, and benches and picnic tables can be found around a fire pit.
There is primitive camping available for those who prefer roughing it. Two campsites are available. These sites are situated along the 13 miles of trails that wind through the park, so ensure that you arrive before its dark to be able to reach your site before the sun goes down. The campsite requires primitive campers to arrive three hours before sunset. No facilities are available apart from two picnic tables and two ground grills for each site. Everything has to be backpacked in, especially water. These sites are ideal for groups and can sleep a maximum of 12 people on each site. It is necessary for one person of the camping party to be 18 years old or older.
A primitive equestrian campsite can also be found in the park for horse lovers who want to camp with their horses. This campground can be found in the hay fields just over the bridge to the Cow Camp. Both RVers and tent campers can be accommodated at this campsite. However, campers should come prepared because there are no restrooms, electricity, or water available on the island.
The Lake Kissimmee State Park Campground has 60 RV friendly sites available. All of them have water and 30-amp electric hookups. The sites are situated in an oak hammock, which provides plenty of shade and an element of privacy and seclusion. RVers can find a dump station located nearby as well as restrooms with flushing toilets and hot showers within walking distance. Several of the campsites are accessible to people with disabilities and have ramps and paved pathways to accessible showers and restrooms. RVers and tent campers should know that sometimes, especially on holiday weekends, boating noise from the lake can be heard all over the campground. Generators are allowed at the park but are not permitted to be used after sunset. Campers can bring along their well-behaved pets, as long as they are in accordance with the park's pet policy. Pets must be kept on a six-foot leash at all times and you are expected to clean up after your pets. Campers can also go and visit the observation tower near the picnic area. This tower provides stunning views both during the day and night. Go and enjoy breathtaking views of the stars during a clear evening.
Visitors can choose between four different hikes when they visit Lake Kissimmee State Park. A nature trail, two loop trails, and a spur trail out to the lake make up these for four trails. These all start at the trailhead, and you will find them to be well marked and enjoyable. Keep your eyes peeled during the hike for bobcat, white-tailed deer, turkeys, and other wildlife. Hikers will pass through oak hammocks, pine flatwoods, past freshwater marshes, and out to Lake Kissimmee during their time out on the trails. There are two backcountry campsites available for those who are keen to spend the night under the sky. Although there are no specific biking trails at the park, campers can bring along their bicycles to get around the park and cycle along the hiking trails.
The lakes surrounding the park are well known for offering some of the best fishing in Florida. Crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, and chain pickerel are just some of the various species of fish you can catch when fishing here. Campers who have a boat can launch it from the boat launch and try their hand at fishing out on the lake. Those without a boat can try fishing by the marina, dam, and along the canal banks to catch the same array of fish as those out on the lake. By the marina, you will find restrooms and parking for both campers and day visitors. Fishers fishing inside the park must adhere to regulations concerning number, size, season, and method of capture. You may be required to have a fishing license, which can be bought at local sporting good stores.
Make sure to pack your non-motorized boat, kayak, or canoe along when you come camping at Lake Kissimmee State Park. If you don't have one or forget it behind, you can always rent a kayak or a canoe from the small store in the park. Boaters who are looking to launch their boat can use one of the two boat launches available. The first boat launch can be found on the north side of the park close to the Kissimmee River Canal, and the second can be found on the east side of the park near the pavilions in the Tiger Cove. Once in the water, you can enjoy exploring all 35,000 acres of Lake Kissimmee and see wildlife in their natural habitat.
Those who have a kayak or canoe can paddle along the different waterways and trails inside the park or along the shores of Lake Rosalie, Tiger Lake, or Lake Kissimmee. You can launch your kayaks or canoes from the Cow Camp Bridge if you want to end up in Lake Rosalie or from the marina near the pavilions if you want to paddle in Lake Kissimmee. Buster Island is a section inside the park that is encompassed by water. Experienced paddlers can explore the 10-mile Buster Island Paddling Trail, Florida's 53rd state designed paddling trail. This is one of the most impressive and unique paddle trails in all of Florida and offers boaters stunning views of endangered animals and plants.
Lake Kissimmee State Park is home to over 200 different species of birds for birders to feast their eyes on. Thanks to the park's ample wetlands, water, and variety of habitats, you can see different birds of prey and waterfowl. The park is also home to the endangered Florida scrub-jay, which requires a sandy, scrubby habitat to dwell in. Birding is a daily activity at the park, and birders should start out while the sun is still low and call it a day after the sun has set. Early mornings and late evenings are some of the best times to catch stunning views of a variety of birds, including sandhill crane, crested caracara, and snail kite.
Enjoy exploring the 6000 acres of this state park when you try some Geocaching. This treasure hunting-like activity is a fun way of getting out into nature with the whole family. Make sure to pack water, snacks, and a hat along when you go geocaching, as this fun pastime will keep you entertained for hours. You will need a GPS compatible device, like your phone, to participate in this outdoor adventure. The GPS will help you locate the hidden caches. This activity should have little to no impact on the surrounding environment and habitats. so watch where you walk and take heed to not disturb any of the plants or animals near the cache.
Visitors to the park can experience walking back in time at the genuine 1876 Cow Camp. The Cow Camp is generally open to the public from October to May and also year-round upon request for groups of 15 people or more. The rangers do a great job recounting stories from the late 1800s and portraying what life was like for a cow hunter at the cow camp. Cow camps in Florida were the dwelling places for cow hunters in the 1800s. The cow hunters would stay in one area until they had finished catching and corraling all the wild cows in that area before moving on to a new area. The cows would then undergo branding and cutting for the annual cattle drive to the west coast of Florida, where they were loaded onto ships and taken to Cuba. You will find the Cow Camp by walking down the Cow Camp Trail, where you meet a Florida cow hunter. The cow hunter will be probably be making coffee, cooking, resting up for the next day, or looking after the cattle. While visiting the Cow Camp, you can have a cup of the special cow hunter coffee by the campfire. He will gladly explain to you the struggles of everyday life as a cow hunter and stories of what he has experienced in his life.