Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is biologically, geologically and historically unique. The park became Florida´s first state preserve in 1971 and is now designated as a National Natural Landmark. Noted artist and naturalist William Bartram called it the great Alachua Savannah when he wrote about his visit to the prairie in 1774.
The State Park has two main entrances. On the south side of the immense prairie, the main Ranger Station and Visitors’ Center are located about 10 miles south of Gainesville, near Micanopy, just off US441. The north side entrance to the prairie and La Chua Trail is located just south of Boulware Springs, off SE 15th Street, in east Gainesville.
More than 20 distinct biological communities provide a rich array of habitats for wildlife and livestock, including alligators, bison, horses and more than 270 species of birds. Exhibits and an audio-visual program at the visitor center explain the area´s natural and cultural history. A 50-foot-high observation tower near the visitor center provides a panoramic view of the preserve.