Sarasota, Fl. – If you want to see alligators on your visit to Southwest Florida, then put a trip to Myakka River State Park on your list of places to go. But perhaps you are more of a bird watcher? Well, then you, too, will want to put Myakka River State Park on your Florida agenda.
John and I love Florida’s natural beauty; we enjoy the peacefulness of trail walking, and seeing a bird or critter on one of our walks just gives us a big thrill. Our visit to Myakka River State Park was an entire day of wildlife viewing thrills.
We started at the visitors center at the park entrance, which I highly recommend doing, as there you can learn a thing or two about the critters you can encounter in the park. You will more than likely encounter an alligator, and if you are not familiar with them, then there are some good to know facts for you to learn. There is also a display of snakes you may encounter in the park, and it is also a good idea to brush up on your snake identifying skills. Free brochures on wildlife identification, trail maps, and other park information are also available in the visitor center.
Our next stop was the boat tour where one can view an abundance of gators from the safety of your seat on the boat. There are two tours at the park, the boat and the tram, and each tour is a completely different experience. Each tour is at a cost of $20 per adult and $12 per child or for a better value, purchase the combo ticket for both tours at a cost of $32 per adult and $19 per child. Each tour has scheduled times and tickets are sold on a first come first serve basis. Times for the tours on the day of your visit will be on the brochure that you get when you enter the park. Each tour is about an hour in length.
We found ourselves a bit hungry after our tours and stopped into the concession and gift shop building located by the boat tour. The Concession had very interesting menu choices that include homemade gator stew!!
Next up was the Birdwalk. There is a seven-mile scenic drive through the park, and the drive over to the bird walk from the boat tour area was at least a few of those miles. But what a drive it was, as on our way, we spotted all sorts of birds, gators, and even some wild turkeys. Once at the bird walk, we viewed a flock of White Pelican, Florida’s original snowbirds, as they flew in all the way from Canada, like they do each winter.
After the Bird walk, we jumped back in the car and headed down the 7-mile scenic drive to the Canopy Walkway, a 45-minute walk through the oak and palm hammock that ends with a 100-foot walkway atop the hammock canopy, suspended 25 feet high. At the end of this walkway is a 74-foot tower where one can climb the 100 or so steps and get a birds-eye view of the park below.
So Much More To Do!!!
John and I just couldn’t do it all in one day as this park is huge, over 37,00 acres to be exact, and it has so much recreation and wildlife viewing available. There are 39 plus miles of hiking trails through wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and along the river and seven miles of paved roads, with additional dirt roads for biking. Bike rentals are available at the concession area. Canoe or Kayak the Myakka river and adjoining lakes; bring your own or rent one at the concession area. Have a picnic; tables with grills are located throughout the park. A picnic area complete with a playground is located at the south picnic area and the Clay Gully area. If you like to fish, there are 3 fishing areas, Fishermans loop, the waters located at the south picnic area, and at Clay Gully. Note that a Florida Fresh Water Fishing License is required.
RV’ing and Camping
The park has three campgrounds, and each site is equipped with 50 amp electrical service, water, a fire ring, and a picnic table. The sites in Palmetto Ridge also have sewer hookups. A dump station is located near Old Prairie Campground, and laundry facilities are available to all campers in Old Prairie and Palmetto Ridge Campgrounds. All campsite areas have restroom facilities with hot showers nearby. As with all Florida State Parks, it is a good idea to reserve your campsite way in advance as they book up quickly. Myakka River State Park Reservations
There are also 6 primitive campsites located along the hiking trails and you must register at the Ranger Station upon arrival.
6 Rustic log cabins are available with a minimum stay of 2 nights. These cabins were built in 1934; however, they have been upgraded with some modern conveniences such as a bathroom with hot shower, microwave, small stove, refrigerator, small air conditioner, and heater. Each cabin also has a fireplace; however, firewood is not provided. They are moderately furnished with two double beds, a sleeper sofa, and a dining table with chairs. Cooking utensils and linens are provided. They do not have phones, television, or wifi. 1 Cabin has been modified for people with limited mobility. The price per night is $70, and the maximum occupancy is 6 people. A few Important notes: Cabins book up quickly as there are only 6 of them and can be booked up to eleven months in advance. Cabins are in a wooded area that often floods during the summer rainy season. Pets are not permitted in cabins except for trained service dogs. To Book your cabin use this link: Myakka Log Cabins
Location and Entrance Fee
The entrance fee to Myakka River State Park is $6.00 per car load of up to 8 people, a real value for a jammed packed day of family fun with nature. The park is located at 13208 State Road 72, approx 11 miles east of Interstate 75.
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