Myakka River State Park
This is one of my favorite parks to go to. The diversity of the park goes from prairie grass areas to lush terrains, Florida style. When you enter the park you will soon see beautiful old oak trees lining the road covered with Spanish moss. There is heavy vegetation and water areas along with huge expanses of prairies. This park is 37,000 plus acres and has 7 miles of scenic paved drives that winds throughout the park. In addition there are 39 miles of hiking trails and dirt roads to provide access to the remote interior. A sign at the beginning of the park says welcome to the real Florida.
There are 3 different camping areas not including the primitive camping. The Old Prairie area is my favorite. All are convenient to the shower and bath area. There are also 5 historic palm cabins that can be rented.
They have done their best to allow the native vegetation screen off some of the camping sites for a little privacy. In this area the bath houses are in the center of the camping area. In the campground area across the road it appears to be more for RV’s with sites designed to pull directly in or out. The third campground was closed for maintenance but it appeared to be more like the Old Prairie area. There are 6 primitive campsites located by the hiking trails.
You won’t get bored at this campground. In addition to camping, you can hike, fish, rent bikes, rent canoes, go on a tram ride (Tram only runs Dec. 16 thru May 31.) or ride the one of the world’s two largest airboats, the “Myakka Maiden” or the “Gator Gal” for a scenic cruise on Upper Myakka Lake. I have done this several times and learn something new each time. Check to see if they still give half off if you bring back the boarding ticket from a previous trip. When I have guests in from out of state this is something we usually do as it gives you lots of opportunities to see birds and alligators in their native habitat.
You will find many kinds of birds here from wading birds, raptors, song birds, migratory birds and ducks.
There is a boardwalk at the north end of Upper Mayakka Lake made just for observing the birds. From November through mid April, there is a bird naturalist at the Bird Walk, most days of the week from 9 am until 1 pm. Call the ranger station ahead of time to see if they are on duty the day you plan to visit (Ranger Station phone number is 941-361-6511
A couple of years ago I got to see this baby owl there in April. I had heard there were 3 of the baby owls but 2 had already left the nest.
In the picture below what looks like a log in the water is actually a alligator.
The lake is just gorgeous. you’ll find bluegill, stumpknocker, sunfish, crappie, bass, tilapia, gar, and catfish in this freshwater lake.
When you get done with all of these activities you can stroll along the canopy walkway. The canopy walkway was completed in 2000, the first public treetop trail in North America. The walkway is suspended 25 feet above the ground and extends 100 feet through the hammock canopy. A tower soars 74 feet in the air to present a spectacular view of tree tops, wetlands and the prairie/hammock interface. It was pretty wet there yesterday so sorry no photos except the beginning of this trail we go again.
If you’d like more information about this park. The Florida States Park website has lots of information on it.