Butterfly Rainforest

By Linda

Paynes Prairie State Park

The campground in Paynes Prairie is located on a small lake.  We took the kayaks out on the lake and watched the bird life.  There were numerous swallows swooping and soaring above the lake.  We also saw an alligator.  At one point, Regis bumped his kayak into my kayak and I was afraid that it was an alligator that hit me.  When we were coming ashore to take our kayaks out, I requested that Regis go first so if there were any alligators they would get him and not me.  He said that he would go first to attract them so when I showed up they would be ready to pounce.  Fortunately, we both made it out of the water alive.

Paynes Prairie is by Gainesville, Florida and the University of Florida has a natural history museum and butterfly rainforest.  We visited the museum and the butterflies.  If you are a butterfly fan, I highly recommend going to the Butterfly Rainforest.  There are numerous benches placed throughout so that you can sit in one spot and watch the butterflies land on the flowers around you.  There are a few birds in there and some fish in the water feature.  It is a very peaceful place to be and there are a large variety of butterflies to see.  After you visit the Butterfly Rainforest, go into the museum to see them raising butterflies.  There are rows of chrysalises.

Butterfly Rainforest at University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida
Making more butterflies at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. These are chrysalises.

The Natural History museum had lots of fossils that were found in Florida.  There were a couple mammoths.  I knew they were big, but didn’t realize they were that big.  There was also the fossil skeleton of a giant sloth.  That thing was huge.  The museum does an awesome job of displaying the fossils and telling the natural history of Florida.

Giant sloth and Regis at the University of Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida.

We got up before sunrise on our last morning at Paynes Prairie so we could kayak on the lake as the sun came up.  It was beautiful.  Words cannot describe how peaceful it was to watch the birds around the lake wake up and start their day.   It was very cool in the morning, so I dressed warmly with my long underwear, shirt and jacket.  I stayed warm but it got toasty as the sun began to rise.  We headed to Silver Springs State Park for our next stop.

Paynes Prairie State Park

Campground:  We stayed at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park campground.  It was a lovely campground nestled in the trees.  We had electricity and water and dumped our tanks at the campground dump station on the way out.  It’s Florida, so the sites were level and there was adequate space between campsites.   I believe that all the sites here are back-in sites. We made our reservations through www.reserveamerica.com.

Campsite at Paynes Prairie State Park campground in Florida.

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