Jungle Prada: My Dad, Native American History and Early European Contact
When I first thought to start exploring St Pete parks, I was trying to find fun and enriching ways to get out and spend time with my dad who was showing signs of advanced dementia. We would pick a new location, pull up and walk around to explore whatever that particular space had to offer. We often drove by Jungle Prada on our way to one of my dad's frequent doctor's appointments at Baypines VA. Finally stopped one day to check it out because I am fascinated with Native American mound culture and knew this site had a significant feature. It is also know as the landing location for the Spanish conquistador, Panfilo de Narváez.
Navaraez was sent to Florida by King Charles V to colonize territory in the south starting in Florida. It sounds like his experience was ill fated as he experienced frequent conflict with Native Americans in the area and eventually died on a raft in the Gulf of Mexico while trying to flee to Texas.
The park is also the site of a Tocobaga mound complex. There is an amazing amount of information on both the history of the Tocobaga and Navarez on the this site https://www.trailoffloridasindianheritage.org/narvaez-mound-jungle-prada
Of course, the height of any walk was to find a cool and refreshing watering hole to enjoy a tasty beverage. We stopped by the Jungle Prada Tavern for lunch afterwards as it only a few steps away from the park. It's a great spot with an outdoor patio/bar area. The menu is straight forward but really good and I highly recommend