Despite a federal government shutdown, Florida’s 171 award-winning state parks, greenways and trails are open for business, offering Floridians and visitors the opportunity to enjoy the state’s natural, cultural and historic resources.
The state park system has been recognized as one of the best in the country, and with good reason. Shining examples are close to home at Lake Kissimmee State Park in Lake Wales and Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring.
If you haven’t been to Lake Kissimmee State Park you are surely missing one of our local gems. The park boasts a cowboy camp re-enactment that depicts the old cracker lifestyle.
Highlands Hammock State Park is also an area gem. If you haven’t been for a while, we encourage you to revisit a piece of paradise.
A pristine hammock, miles of walking trails, a paved loop road that traverses the park, playgrounds, picnic areas, camping, the Civilian Conservation Corps museum ... the list goes on and on.
A tram tour is a treat for new visitors and park residents alike. The tram is currently not running on South Canal due to extremely high water from heavy rains but the narrated tour is still educational and an adventure in itself. Regularly scheduled tram tours are at 1 p.m. Tuesday through Fridays and at 1 and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays.
Campers can choose between the comforts of electricity, water and organized activities at the main campground, or they can opt for primitive camping in other areas of the park. Adventurous parkgoers can follow elevated catwalks deep into the Highland Hammock swamp where they have a good chance to see an assortment wildlife and, perhaps, alligators.
Throughout October, Florida’s state parks will celebrate Florida Greenways and Trails Month with a focus on hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking activities. Park rangers and volunteers will host special events and are taking advantage of Florida’s slightly cooler temperature.
While national parks are being shut down because of instability in Washington, Florida’s parks, greenways and trails are available for all to enjoy.
The park system offers technology to help plan your outings. Visit the website www.FloridaStateParks.org or download the Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger app, available on iTunes and Android Market by searching “Official Florida State Parks” and is identified under ParksByNature Network. It is also available on PocketRanger.com.