This is the 3rd and best time we have camped here. The main campsites were booked, so we decided to stay in the equestrian campsites. I wasn't too sure if we would have some additional odor ( you know, horse poop), but that wasn't a problem at all.
We knew in advance that we would be arriving on the late side, so we called and got the gate code (after they confirmed that we had reservations and had paid). Quiet time isn't until 11pm and we were set up before then.
The 1st morning the kids were delighted to see a doe and buck in the campsite right next to us which was vacant. They came through the campground several times that morning. We were only one of 3 sites being used. We brought our bikes, and rode up to the office to let the Ranger know that we had arrived. The kids saw the swamp buggy and wanted to go. We had decided the last couple of times that our youngest was probably too youngbe because the buggy excusion is 2 1/2 hours long, and we didn't think she would last that long. The Ranger said to be back by 2pm and ready for the ride. The cost was around $50 for four of us. A little on the steep side, but for us this was to be a one time thing. This was the highlight of our trip. The Ranger was sooo knowledegable! We learned that a lot of the hammocks on the Preserve are not old and learned the history of the area. We saw deer through the whole ride. Our oldest daughter brought the "bird guide" pamphlet from the office and checked off an array of different kinds of birds that the Ranger pointed out. On the way back we saw a lonely gator.
Unfortunatley during our stay the moon was full. I say unfortunately because this is one of the best places around Florida to stargaze. This Preserve is located in the middle of nowhere, so no lights to distract from the starts. The moon was late to rise on our 2nd night, and we and others wandered up to the lot across from the office where there are no trees to be in the way of seeing an amazing view of the universe.
We will be back again...lots of places to hike, bike and just "be".
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