RV camping among wildlife at Lake Kissimmee in central Florida

Kissimmee State Park. (Julianne G. Crane)

Located in central Florida, this State Park is a naturalist’s wonderland. And, a great destination for RV snowbirds traveling through the Sunshine state.

Lake Kissimmee State Park sits on the shores of lakes Kissimmee, Tiger and Rosalie, so wildlife abounds. (Click on any of the images for a larger picture.)

SandhillCrane_JulianneGCraneThere seems to be hundreds of Sandhill Cranes. These beauties appear unphased by humans, walking within feet of photographers allowing close examination of their red foreheads, white cheeks and long dark pointed bills.

WoodStork_JimmySmith_JulianneGCraneIn addition the the Sandhill Cranes, there are numerous other birds including the Wood Stork, a large white, bald-headed wading bird. This broad-winged bird is the only stork that presently breeds in North America. In the U.S. there is a small and endangered breeding population in the south between North Carolina and Florida.

TurkeyVulture_JulianneGCraneAlso seen throughout the park are large Turkey Vultures, part of nature’s clean up crew that “feed almost exclusively on recently dead small mammals to large grazers,” according to Wikipedia. Basking in the setting sun, this roosting scavenger (at left) has a wingspan of 67–72 inches; dark brown to black plumage; a featherless, purplish-red head and neck; and a short, hooked, ivory-colored beak.

grasshopper_JulianneGCraneVisitors can hike more than 13 miles of trails. One enormous critter we encountered was a 3-inch long Lubber Grasshopper, leisurely sunning itself in the middle of the main park roadway. This brightly colored insect emits a “foul-smelling and foul-tasting foamy secretion from the thorax when it is disturbed.”

FoxSquirrel_JulianneGCraneSquirrels (click on picture to get a clearer view) abound in the full-facility campground, as well as a primitive camping facility. Many visitors take part in water activities of boating, canoeing and fishing. Located off State Road 60, Lake Kissimmee State is 15 miles east of Lake Wales, Florida.

— Julianne G. Crane

Click on images to enlarge from top: Live Oak shaded Site 56 at Lake Kissimmee State Park campground; Sandhill Crane; Wood Stork with RVer Jimmy Smith checking out park map; Turkey Vulture; Lubber Grasshopper; eating squirrel (Julianne G. Crane)

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