One of the oldest and largest Florida State Parks, Myakka River State Park offers a wide variety of activities and experiences that are sure to be an adventure. Just south of Tampa in Sarasota, this surprisingly wild park is just miles away from some of Florida’s best beaches. Alligators, birds, deer, otter, and more can be seen at the park.
Activities at Myakka River State Park
Canopy Walk and Observation Tower
The Canopy Walk is one of the most unique features of Myakka River, and the reason why many visitors come to the park. The Canopy Walk is a suspension bridge about 25 feet up in the air. Although it’s fairly short, it’s so fun to walk. You only walk across one-way, and sometimes there is a short line of people waiting to walk across. The 76 foot observation tower is connected to the Canopy Walk, so you can continue on up the steps to the top. You’ll have panoramic views of the surrounding prairie and the tree tops. The tower does shake a little in the wind!
The Canopy Walk and Observation is just a short walk from parking area. The parking area is fairly close to the park entrance, past the bridge, on the right hand side. You are able to park on the side of the road if the spots are full.
Note that both the Canopy Walkway and Observation Tower require climbing up many stairs. If your anyone in your group can’t or doesn’t want to climb up, there are several benches at the bottom with informational signs about the flora and fauna of the park.
There are many, many miles of hiking trails at Myakka totaling well over 40 miles. Hike by the Myakka River and observe huge alligators sunning on the banks. Wind through wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. This park is great for backpacking and primitive camping because there are so many miles trails and several primitive camping sites.
Deep Hole Hike
Deep Hole is a sink hole that is filled with alligators. It’s not really known why they congregate here, but on a good day, you’ll see dozens of giant gators. The Deep Hole Trail is restricted and you’ll have to obtain a permit from the rangers station to hike it. Only 30 permits are given out each day on a first-come-first-serve basis, so you’ll need to get there early.
Tram & Boat Tours
If you’d prefer not to hike around the park, Myakka also offers tram and boat tours for an additional fee.
Tram: Learn about wildlife and history of the area on the 40- to 60-minute tram tour. Tours run daily at various times. Tickets are first-come-first-serve. Ticket prices: adults, $20; ages 3-6, $12
Boat: Take a 45- to 60-minute covered pontoon boat tour of the upper Myakka Lake. Tours run daily at various times. No reservations, tickets are sold first-come-first-serve. Ticket prices: adults, $20; ages 3-6, $12
Paddling & Rentals
14 miles of the Florida Wild and Scenic Myakka River flow through the park. You can bring your own vessel or rent from the park. Rentals are on a first-come-first-serve basis. Canoes and single kayaks are available. Note that water levels change depending on the season and paddlers should check weather conditions before heading out.
Gift Shop & Concessions
Enjoy lunch, snacks, dessert, or craft beer at Pink Gator Cafe! We enjoyed a post hike ice cream sundae. There’s also a gift shop with lots of souvenirs.
Biking: bikes are permitted on the 7 miles of paved main roads of the park and a few unpaved trails. Grab a map from the ranger station. You can also rent bikes from the park.
Camping: the park features a large campground with 90 sites. And there are CCC-era cabins available for rent. There are also several primitive campsites throughout the park. Youth/group sites are also available.
Horseback riding: there are up to 15 miles of horseback riding trails at Myakka River. The ranger station will provide gate code access to the horse trails.
Birding: With the variety of habitats and large acreage, Myakka is a great place to see birds of all kinds. We saw roseate spoonbill, limpkin, blue heron, wood stork, and many more. A great place to look is the canal right outside the concession shop where the boat tour departs. You can also walk on the Birdwalk, which is a boardwalk out into the wetlands where you’ll have a great chance to see birds and other wildlife.
Fishing: fishing is permitted in the park for those with a fresh water fishing license. There is no designated fishing pier, but fishing is welcome on both the Myakka River and Upper Myakka Lake.
Boating: there is a boat ramp near the concessions area. There are no motor size restrictions, but varying water levels may prevent some motors from operating.
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Myakka River State Park Info
Address: 13208 State Road 72, Sarasota FL 34241
Hours: 8 AM – Sunset, 365 days a year
Admission: $6 per vehicle
The information in this post was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to visit Myakka River State Park I recommend checking the most up-to-date information on their website.