“Ross Prairie State Forest is a 3,532-acre tract of public conservation land that was acquired in 1995 through the Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) program with funding from the Preservation 2000 Act. The state forest is managed by the Florida Forest Service under a multiple-use concept. The Florida Forest Service works to protect, conserve and enhance the forest’s unique resources so they will be available for future generations. Ross Prairie State Forest is located in Marion County approximately 10 miles southwest of Ocala. Access is off State Road 200.”
from the FDACS.GOV website
We made Ross Prairie State Forest our fist stop on our 2021 Summer Trip so that we could spend a little time with family and finish up a couple of doctor’s appointments. We were just looking for an acceptable, inexpensive place to park that would be fairly close to family before we pulled out and headed North for the Summer. What we found was a lot more.
Ross Prairie is a little known gem that puts you in the middle of some of the best reasons to visit this area. A quick 30 minutes or so to Dunnellon with its Rainbow Springs State Park. Less than an hour from Williston with its Devils Den and Blue Grotto, if you are intent on scuba diving. Less than an hour from Silver Springs State Park, and really way too many great places to visit to mention.
The campground is only 14 sites, so even when it’s full, it still isn’t very crowded and loud. The sites are good sized and set up so that you don’t feel all packed together. The camp hosts, when we were there were excellent. Very friendly and helpful but not “all in your business”. Exactly what we like.
If you have horses, bring them, there are miles of riding trails, as well as hiking trails. The Florida Trail passes through the park giving you access to a day hike. Mountain biking is big here too.
One of the things we liked a lot were the huge showers at the bathhouse. Lori and I both voted these as the best showers of any campground we’ve stayed at so far.
All in all, we really like this park. We will definitely keep this on our list of state parks to camp at in Florida.
If restaurants are important to you, there are hundreds within a 30 minute drive. Pretty much any kind of food you can think of. We were pointed towards one down the road in Hernando and it was great.