Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
4:29 pm EDT
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Yellow School Buses Head to State Parks

Do you remember going on field trips to state parks when you were in school?

Today’s students can take advantage of the “Yellow Buses in the Parks” project. A cooperation between three state of Florida departments providing funding for classes to experience state parks near them.

Three years ago, Florida State Parks Foundation members observed that schools were doing fewer field trips to state parks. Members realized educational opportunities were being lost for today’s students.

That’s when the Foundation partnered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Park Service to provide grant money for schools to cover transportation costs to the parks.

“Florida State Parks are a tremendous resource for our community and children,” says Paula Russo, past-president of the Florida State Parks Foundation.

Lake Griffin State Park in Lake County is 640 acres of lush greenery with walking trails.

It is also home to the second oldest live oak tree in the state of Florida. Estimated to be somewhere between 300 to 500 years old and discovered in 1811.

A sign near it states, “…it may even have been a landmark for the Timuca Indians who frequented the area…” and later the Seminole Indians.

“Lake Griffin State Park offers hiking, canoeing, kayaking, camping, picnicking, and more,” said Rachel Nunlist, park ranger and third generation Floridian. “There’s a picnic area with tables and grills shaded by large live oak trees. The picnic shelter is available for rent, and there’s a playground located in the picnic area.

The park also has a one-half mile long nature trail winding around a portion of the basin swamp. That trail leads hikers to the Mammoth Live Oak tree near the park entrance.

“The tree doesn’t have a name,” says Nunlist, “but we’ve thought about asking residents to suggest one.”

An entire family might take advantage of taking their own field trip to a state park.Perhaps, to Lake Griffin State Park. You could even suggest a name for the Mamouth Oak Tree.

Field trips, whether at school or with the family, are always unforgettable.

Lake Griffin State Park is located at 3089 US Highway 441-27, Fruitland Park.

(352) 360-6760.


Hours are 8am until sunset, 365 days a year.

An entrance fee is required:

  • One vehicle with 1 person $4
  • One vehicle with 2-8 people $5 per vehicle
  • Bicycles & pedestrians $2 per person

Annual family passes are available

Request a list of park fees and rental information for kayaks, boats, and the pavilion.

Other resources:

Take a look at where you can go to a state park in Florida:

Statistics about Florida state parks:12 State Parks • 4 State Forests • 1 State Memorial
17 State Historic Sites • 3 State Reserves • 17 State Preserves
3 National Parks • 3 National Forests • 2 National Memorials
1 National Historic Landmark • 20 National Wildlife Refuges • 1 National Seashore

Source: Florida State Parks website