Lake Kissimmee State Park: Camping, Boating, History and Wild Turkeys
By Kevin Mims
Traveling Florida by RV has plenty of perks. Sure, there are a few things you'll need to get used to if you are full-timing (less space, erratic internet connectivity, etc.) but for the most part I wouldn't have it any other way. Plus, we get to see and experience places a little longer and much more closely, which is always a good thing.
Here's a good example: Lake Kissimmee State Park. I've tent-camped here in the past, but in the RV a park feels more like home. And having your home in a Florida State Park is incredible.
If you haven't had a chance to go camping in Lake Kissimmee State Park, you really should add it to the list. Tents, popups, travel trailers and even the biggest of Class A RV's fit perfectly in two loops in the park's campground. Cell phone service is a little spotty here (not that it's a bad thing), but there's free wifi at the camp store.
You won't have to go far for wildlife sightings, either. Every day we were in camp, we saw deer, turkeys and other assorted wildlife. One day while working at the picnic table, three turkeys walked right up and stood about five feet away. Too crazy. (I've included some video of these fine specimens at the bottom of the post.)
Don't forget the bikes and backpacks, too. The Lake Kissimmee State Park camping trails are some of the best anywhere, and the live oaks are loaded with butterfly orchids. I didn't find any in bloom on this trip, but in the summer months you should see more than you can count. For a good day hike, head out on either the Buster Island Loop or North Loop.
For a look at Florida's cattle heritage, the Cow Camp in the park is open on weekends. The living history demonstration is modeled after a working 1870's camp, complete with a "cow hunter" and cracker cattle.
Of course, Lake Kissimmee is a major bass fishing and boating destination, too. I left the park one morning before daylight, and counted seven trucks pulling bass boats toward the lake.
Lake Kissimmee State Park camping sites are located 15 miles east of Lake Wales off S.R. 60. For more information, visit floridastateparks.org/lakekissimmee.