Named for a historic community founded at the mouth of the Kissimmee River, Okee-Tantie Recreation Area encompasses both developed recreational facilities and a wild lakefront perfect for birding.
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Address: 10430 SR 78 West, Okeechobee
Restroom: at the marina
Land manager: Okeechobee County
Open for day use except for boaters. To reserve a boat slip, call the number above Mon-Fri between 8:30-5. No camping permitted.
When birding the shoreline or paddling along it, be very mindful of snakes, alligators, and alligator nests. Don’t enter areas where you can’t see what’s around you, especially deeply vegetated areas.
From the intersection of US 441 and SR 78 in Okeechobee, drive 4.3 miles west along SR 78. The turn-in and big sign for the park is on the left after you go up and over a levee and pass the entrance to Scott Driver Recreation Area on the right.
After you enter the park through the main gate, turn right for the developed area: marina and river access, picnic tables. For lakeshore access, turn left to follow a road down to a cove that airboaters and paddlers use as a put-in.
This large county park provides boaters and day users access to the lakeshore for launching watercraft, bank fishing, and relaxing at picnic tables with a great view.
There is a marina with dockage along the Kissimmee River side of the park. Restrooms are located there but are not always unlocked.
For decades, this park was home to a popular county campground, which sat on the highest ground. Closed some years ago, the camping area now is ringed with fencing and signage warning you away from it.
While we’ve met up with paddlers taking out at this park, we haven’t tried paddling here ourselves. The put-in area is also used by airboaters and is called The Pond.
It provides direct access to the Lake Okeechobee shoreline. To the left, it’s four miles up to Okeechobee Recreation Area in Okeechobee, recently renamed Cliff J. Betts Recreation Area. To the right, hug the marshy peninsula to get to the Kissimmee River.
Wind is a major issue on and around the lake at all times because of its size, so if you want to paddle, watch the weather carefully. Current and boaters are hazards around the river mouth.
Hikers can easily access the Florida Trail along Lake Okeechobee from this recreation area, as it passes right by the front gate. To the east is the Okeechobee to Okee-tantie section, and to the west is the Indian Prairie to Okeechobee section.
We have left cars here while backpacking the Florida Trail north along the Kissimmee River, but that was prior to the closure of the campground.
Since there is no longer a camp host on duty, if you want to leave a car, call the county number above and see if they’ll allow one to be parked near the marina. It will be at your own risk.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Providing access to the Kissimmee River, C. Scott Driver Recreation Area is also an important trailhead for the Florida Trail along Lake Okeechobee
3.8 miles. On the sweep of Lake Okeechobee shoreline between Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, expect some of the best birding along the lake as you walk along the dike
14.9 miles. Panoramic views across cattle ranches and the channelized Kissimmee River are the highlights of this connector from Lake Okeechobee to natural lands north of Okeechobee