Florida Guide > State Parks
Myakka River State Park
Myakka River State Park is not far from Sarasota. It is possible to drive there and back in a day from Orlando but as there is so much else to see in Sarasota an overnight stay might be advisable.
We visited on our recent tour of Florida and had a wonderful day discovering Florida’s unspoilt wilderness.
We parked in the car park, cost $5, at the entrance only to discover that we were still another three miles away from the boat and tram tours. So off we set to follow the seven-mile scenic drive through shady oak-palm hammocks and along the shore of the Upper Myakka Lake.
We decided to take the tram tour first because the next boat tour was already booked up. It is advisable to book both tours as soon as you arrive. You will receive a different coloured disc for each of the tours. Hand this disc to your driver in exchange for $10 when your tour is about to begin. When you have taken your first tour, keep your ticket, as this will enable you to receive a fifty per cent discount off your next tour that day.
Each tour lasts about an hour but the trams only run from mid December until the end of May. The “Tram Safari” takes you into the back country of the park to discover what life in the old Florida was like without ever having to leave your seat. Our driver kept a constant look out for wildlife, pointing out an eagle’s nest and numerous birds including herons and ospreys along the way. At one point we came across a rattlesnake in the middle of the road. We waited for a while but the snake wasn’t for moving. So our driver had to carefully negotiate around him. Just as the last tram carriage was about to pass he suddenly raised his tail and began to rattle, but we managed to get past safely. That was a close call!
Our next tour was on one of the world’s two largest airboats, the Myakka Maiden. This is a leisurely ride, unlike the small airboats in the Everglades, and because the boats are powered by air you are able to explore the shallow, grassy areas of the lake. The boat is slow moving, safe and smooth so we had no problems taking lots of photographs. Alligators were everywhere; some people were fishing in the lake, even standing in the water!
On our way out of the park we visited the Canopy Walkway and Tower. This walkway is suspended 25 feet above the ground and extends 85 feet through the hammock canopy ending at the tower. After crossing the walkway we climbed to the top of the tower, 74 feet high. If you can manage the climb it is well worth it for the spectacular view of the treetops and wetlands. A nature trail is also close by and we spent a leisurely 20 minutes walking around looking at the birds.
Myakka River is one of Florida’s oldest parks and well worth a visit if you are in the area.
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