There are a handful of places in Florida that stand out as excellent watching locations for wildlife–Circle B Bar, Anhinga Trail, Shark Valley, Green Cay Wetlands, Orlando Wetlands Park–but the place to see alligators is in Gators ' home, Gainesville.
Paynes Prairie is a massive landform in North Florida that William Bartram visited and wrote about in 1774, with an unusual twist for a meadow— it has a drain. That drain is called Alachua Sink, and it clogs up, turning the prairie into a lake every once in a while. In times of drought, water, like the alligators, is collecting at this end of the prairie. The La Chua Trail, located at the northern end of the prairie, provides an excellent place for wildlife watching, with an elevated boardwalk and a long dike leading to an observation tower.
The trail is part boardwalk and part grassy path. There is a tower at the end for long range viewing. We walked the trail with kids....no problem. Gators were PLENTIFUL and close. Horses were even closer, right on the trail. The bison were a distance away when we were there but it was clear that they frequent the trail as well. This is a wonderful place! The only negative I could come up with is that the parking area can get really full and you may have to park along the entry road and walk in. Not a big deal at all.
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