Florida Guide > State Parks
We had been staying in Saint Petersburg and after a few days decided to venture further south with no real plan in mind but thought we would head in the general direction of Naples and the Everglades.
We had all heard about the Sunshine Skyway Bridge linking Saint Petersburg and Bradenton on the south side of Tampa Bay, so that seemed the obvious route to take at the start of our journey. We joined the I-75 and were soon gazing at the awesome span of the bridge, its metal struts radiating outward and glistening in the morning sun.
This was a great highlight to start the day and indeed it got even better as I will now explain.
As we continued along the freeway our navigator suggested a couple of alternative stops, either Sarasota or Myakka River State Park. We plumped for the latter simply because we had spent the last few days on the beach and the Myakka River sounded quite intriguing.
So we turned east on SR 72 and within half an hour had reached the Visitor Center, which gave us the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the delights of the Park.
It was obviously a bird watchers paradise with several exhibits referring to the diversity of habitat which is responsible for the variety of birds that can be seen in a day. Without going into too much detail these included herons, ibises, eagles, ospreys and meadowlarks, not too mention ducks and all sorts of wading birds.
Myakka River State Park also has an excellent system of hiking trails and campgrounds but what really appealed to us were the airboat rides and the Myakka Canopy walkway.
The airboats were not quite like those you see on TV skimming through the Everglades at high speed but larger more sedate craft that gave you plenty of opportunities to take photographs without any camera shake. The one-hour tour took us out on to the vast expanse of Upper Myakka Lake, as well as the grassy shallows in search of alligators (although we didn’t see any on our trip). It was extremely informative throughout and well worth the $10 fare.
A short walk from the main road is the Myakka's Canopy Walkway. Here is a 74 feet tower that you can climb together with a suspension bridge set amongst the treetops providing visitors views of the forest canopy and spectacular vistas of the entire park sprawled out below.
We had really underestimated what was available in the Park and we will come back with another article to share with you the delights of the biking trails, scenic drives and various ranger programmes on offer.
Don’t miss it if you are in the area.
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Page added on: 21 October 2007
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