Rye Wilderness Park

"Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints."

This page is dedicated to our Manatee County Park Rangers. The many hours, for they are there to assist in every word.

ryeExperience a slice of old Florida at the Rye Preserve. You don't have to travel far, the Rye Preserve is closer than you think.

Rye Preserve is a 145 acre property located just northwest of the Lake Manatee Dam. The preserve features nature trails, horseback trails, picnic areas, a playground and a canoe/kayak launch.

The preserve's trail system leads visitors through four distinctive ecosystems, including sand pine scrub, xeric oak scrub, oak hammocks and the river community. A variety of interesting creatures can be seen in these areas including the rare gopher tortoise and Florida scrub-jay.

Rye Preserve is home to a piece of Manatee County's early pioneer history. Within the preserve visitors can view the Rye Family Cemetery, the last remaining reminder of the old Rye river community.

Accessibility: There is a trail around the picnic pavilion made of packed dirt or shell. The remaining trails are dirt and may not be accessible depending on the environmental conditions. Be aware: Any area not on a designated trail may have a very soft surface.


  • Camping fees are $20.00 per site per night, plus tax. Cash only, please.
  • A maximum of 6 people will be allowed to occupy a single campsite. Camping registration is at the Rangers Station from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Checkout time is 2:00 p.m.
  • You must register at the Rangers Station prior to setting up your campsite.
  • Camping permitted at campground only.
  • Persons under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
  • No generators are permitted.
  • Pets are allowed, but must be on a leash at all times.
  • Firewood is provided when available and camp fires are permitted, except during periods of extreme drought.
  • Camp fires may be banned during drought conditions. Violators may lose future camping privileges and face penalties from the State Division of Forestry.
  • Please do not cut limbs, or nail, hang, or tie anything to trees or shrubs.
  • Be courteous to others and keep noise to a minimum after 10:00 p.m.
  • No alcoholic beverages.
  • Vehicles must stay on designated roads. No ATVs or off road motorcycles.
  • Firearms are prohibited.
  • Glass bottles are prohibited. Broken glass hurts.
  • Littering is illegal, unsightly, harmful to wildlife and unsanitary.
  • Please do not feed the animals.

The launch has moved to a new location on the red Trail. Start at the parking area and follow the trail down the steps to the water's edge. The launch site provides access to the Manatee River.
Canoes and kayaks are not provided at the park.
Visit Ray's Canoe Hideaway or call (941) 747-3909 to reserve a canoe or kayak.

PICNICKING: Available at the picnic shelter and at various sites throughout the preserve on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Available by reservation or on a first-come-first-serve basis.
For reservations, call 941-748-4501 ext. 1807.

Playground and picnic tables are located next to the Rangers Station.

A variety of birds and wildlife can be seen throughout the preserve in a variety of native ecosystems. Remember: All plants, animals, and historical artifacts in the preserve are protected from harassment, damage, or removal.

Available on all trails.

Available from the shoreline along the Manatee River. Please be kind to the vegetation when fishing from shore within the preserve. NOTE: Fishing is subject to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations.

Allowed on designated biking trails only.

Allowed on designated riding trails. Horses are not provided. Proof of a negative Coggins Test must be available upon request for each horse. Designated horse staging area is provided.

About Rye Preserve

Download the brochure here! (PDF)

Rye Preserve is a 145 acre preserve located on the Manatee River just northwest of the Lake Manatee Dam. The original river settlement dates back to the post-Civil War era. Erasmus and Mary Rye moved to the area to establish a homestead in 1889. A small community began to build up around the Rye homestead utilizing the upper Manatee River as the primary means of travel and access to the outside world.

In 1910, the United States Government dredged the Manatee River from Tampa Bay east to Rye to allow steamships access to the small settlements that were scattered along the river. The river steamship allowed the community to flourish. At its peak, the Rye settlement was occupied by 72 families, with stores, sawmill, gristmill, post office, and school.

Increased accessibility by car and train caused steamship lines across the nation to fold, including the Manatee River service, bringing about the end of the river trail era. The Rye settlement was once again isolated and had to survive without commercial access to the large coastal communities.

By 1929, even the post office had closed its doors. Until 1988, there were still standing structures where the Rye settlement once was, but a suspicious fire destroyed them. The small Rye family cemetery, maintained by the descendents of the families interred there, is our only reminder of this river

Rye Preserve's four distinctive ecosystems, sand pine scrub, xeric oak scrub, oak hammocks, and the river community, have remained relatively undisturbed over the years. Dry upland portions of the park are home to several threatened animal species, including the gopher tortoise and Indigo snake. A variety of birds, including Florida scrub jays, owls, herons, warblers, turkeys, and several species of woodpecker seasonally visit and occupy the preserve. Larger animals, such as white-tailed deer, bobcat, and gray fox, can be seen around sunrise and sunset.

rye preserve

Rye Preserve's recreation plan, which combines all recreational uses on the property, includes the following elements:
  • Hiking and nature trails
  • Kayak/canoeing trails and launch
  • Environmental education
  • Non-motorized bicycle trails
  • Rollerblading
  • Managed fishing
  • Picnic areas and pavilions
  • Wildlife viewing areas
  • Horseback riding
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