The Myakka River State Park was voted one of the best State Parks in Florida and after spending a day there, I can clearly see why. This place is not only beautiful but it's also laid out in a way that invites visitors to explore and experience Florida in a way most tourists don't get to do.
We arrived around 10am on Saturday morning, hoping to catch the 10am airboat ride around the lake.. we didn't make it but that's to be expected, we arrived just as the airboat left dock. No worries, there was another at 11:30 am, we'll hang around the lake area for a bit and wait for that one. I was very happy to see that my fan club had assembled below, they are such loyal fans often posing for group photos in support of me.....err what? Oh, these are the vultures that frequent the park. I gotta talk to my publicist about this...
So after the airboat ride, which was a lot of fun by the way and well worth the $12 for an adult to go do. Photography wise, you won't get many decent shots from this, the boat keeps moving during the entire tour so as you know, trying to photograph animals from a moving boat isn't the easiest thing in the world. Oh and if you do go do this, keep your ticket stubs, they get 50% off the ride the remainder of the year. Not a bad deal at all. We elected to eat after the boat ride and we weren't disappointed with the quality of service and food, it was excellent, much better than one would expect from a State run park. Our next stop was the boardwalk or birdwalk as they labeled it on the map. This was just north of the area we started at (North Lake Myakka) and accessable by car.
As we travelled along the winding road to the birdwalk, we spotted some Doe's grazing in the tall grass beside the road. I managed to get one good shot before they ran off into the woods where I wasn't about to chase them.
We arrived at the birdwalk/boardwalk. This was one of the best boardwalks I have been on in a swamp/lake setting. The water was right up to the bottom of the walk, a few inches more and it would have flooded the walk, which made it much more interesting to walk across. Especially when you look to the right and see this guy staring at you.
This is a 8-9ft American Aligator, I took this photo of him at almost water level through the slats in the side of the boardwalk. Yes, he's big enough to not care that I am there taking his photo. He was about 8 to 10ft away when I took this. It's a really intense experience to be that close to something that could attempt to eat you and all that's standing between you and him is a couple of 2x4s and your tripod. This boardwalk was my favorite part of the park, I could have spent hours there just shooting the landscapes and birds that flew by, highly reccommend this area of the park.
The photo below was taken from the boardwalk area, the boardwalk is actually to the right side of the photo.
This next photo was taken from the end of the boardwalk.
The last stop on our trip to Myakka River State Park was the Canopy Walkway. You climb a 40 foot tall tower and then walk on a suspended walkway to a 70 foot tower where at the top you treated to views like the one below. Because the water level was so high in the area, this wasn't the easisest place to get access to, we have to walk through ankle high water for about 20 to 30ft to reach the 40 foot tower. The view was amazing though and definately worth wet shoes to get to it.
If I had to rate my experience at Myakka River State Park, I would give it a 10 out of 10, this was such an amazing place and the people that run the park are so nice and helpful. I highly reccommend this part to anyone traveling on the west central or south western regions of Florida. You won't be disappointed.