Refuge at Ocklawaha
A pristine nature refuge near Orlando is a trip back in time

From the April 22, 2002 Issue of New York

Experience the haunting wilderness evoked in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's 1938 novel The Yearling at the Refuge at Ocklawaha, a 52-acre nature retreat in deepest rural Florida. Stay in your very own Cracker-style cabin, with time out for eating home-cooked meals at the dining lodge (dinner is simple fare like meat loaf, barbecued chicken, and ribs). You'll enjoy the solitude of pioneer life -- listening to the calls of wild turkeys and owls -- while sitting on your cabin's screened-in porch. Rise early like a settler to spend the day walking (or bicycling) on the Refuge's many paths, but keep an eye out for alligators and bobcats. (If you're reminded of St. John's Maho Bay Campgrounds or Estate Concordia, there's a reason -- the Refuge was last managed by Stanley Selengut, the eco-friendly developer behind those two Virgin Island resorts.) Whatever you do, don't get so lost in a nineteenth-century reverie that you forget to visit Cross Creek, where Rawlings's turn-of-the-last-century house has been meticulously restored.

Fly direct to Orlando, then drive an hour to the Refuge at Ocklawaha (cabins are from $110 to $180; 352-288-2233 or