When you think of prairies, visions of the Wild West might come to mind. With buffalo and horses running wild in the land, the preserves of the west are home to a diverse bounty of animals and plant life. In Florida, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park near Gainesville is it's only little Wild West, and you can wander through miles of trails there.\nFor only $6, you can visit the first-ever preserve of its kind in Florida, where animals usually found roaming the western frontier are at home in the tropical lands of The Sunshine State.\nThe preserve is also home to over 300 species of birds, which can be found flying in the skies overlooking the park.\nEditor's Choice: The Hurricane Destroyed Pensacola & The Photos Are Totally Shocking (PHOTOS)\nPaynes Prairie is also a popular spot if you want to go hiking to see this unique bounty of wildlife. With eight different trails, there's plenty to explore.\nIncluded among the eight trails is the Gainsville-Hawthorne State Trail, a 16-mile paved route that was made from a rail-bed and will take you through beautiful vistas and the past the park's wildlife.\nFor sky-high views of the land and animals, the state park has a 50-foot-tall observation tower that provides 360-degree views of the preserve.\nView this post on Instagram Bison, in Florida? That can't be right, can it? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So... why is it a herd of wild Bison roaming just south of Gainesville, FL is so surprising? Because nobody remembers that it was actually a thing. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Sadly, very few if any of our ancestors are still alive to tell us stories about where the Buffalo "used" to roam. It only takes 1 generation for knowledge, like a language or memory of an atrocity, to be completely lost or forgotten. There have been 8 generations born since the destruction of the Bison east of the Mississippi River. This story is not in our school textbooks as it is easily outshined by the Boston tea party & the start of the American Revolution, which was happening at the exact same time. Let's be real here, back in the 1700 & 1800s most early settlers didn't give a 💩if the Buffalo roamed at all! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Pre colonization, Bison numbers across the continent were upwards of 60,000,000! 🤯There were 2-4 million bison east of the Mississippi River, at the beginning of the 1700s. As early as the 1670's, Spanish explorers in Florida documented bison herds in their journals. In the East, bison ranged from as far south as Florida and as far north as New York. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Bison trails or "traces" were so long and spread so far that they were used for human travel and eventually became routes for modern roads. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Bison began to disappear in east Virginia tidelands in 1730, as the British colonies began to grow rapidly. By the 1770s Bison were GONE from most or all of North & South Carolina, Alabama & Florida. By 1830 the Bison population was destroyed as far west to Louisiana and north to Wisconsin. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ FYI: 1831, marked the beginning of the "Trail of Tears" the result of President Andrew Jackson's (the dude on the $20 bill) passage of the Indian Removal Act that forcibly removed 60,000 Native American's from their ancestral homelands in the Southeastern states to make room for the quickly increasing numbers of European settlers. The Bison herds in all the eastern states had already been destroyed by over hunting in the commercial hide industry. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ By 1883 only 1,000 Bison remained in the entire U.S. A post shared by Dennis & Liz (@eatseerv) on Dec 20, 2019 at 1:20pm PST\nThe centerpiece of the state park lies within its collection of roaming wildlife not typically seen in Florida.\nView this post on Instagram wild stallions working out a small territory dispute in Paynes prairie state park. . . #animal_captures #animals_in_world #splendid_animals #animals_captures #animal_fanatics #animalelite #animal_sultans #animal_sultans #wildlifephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlifephoto #wildlifelovers #canonusa #wildlifeplanet #wildlifeonearth #wildlifeaddicts #natgeowild #natgeo #natgeohub #natgeowildlife #natgeopl #natgeowild_hd #natgeoru#natgeopix #wildlifeperfection #animals_in_world #audobon A post shared by Stuart Kaye Photography (@b1rding) on Jun 17, 2018 at 5:54am PDT\nHerds of wild bison and horses are usually seen in western preserves, so it's a treat to see them roaming through this Florida state park.\nView this post on Instagram simple adventures ✨ A post shared by Catherine 🇧🇷 (@cathyfritos) on Jul 21, 2020 at 11:39am PDT\nPaynes Prairie Preserve State Park feels like something straight out of a Western film, and you can get a totally unique experience when you visit.\nPaynes Prairie Preserve State Park\nPrice: $6 per vehicle\nAddress: 100 Savannah Blvd., Micanopy, FL \nWhy You Need To Go: This wild west-style preserve filed with wild bison and horses offers miles of great hiking trails. \nWebsite\nBefore you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your trip.