Myakka River State Park is (the brochure states) one of Florida’s largest and most diverse natural areas. The Myakka River flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. The park was developed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. There are numerous activities for park visitors: a bird walk, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and bicycling, camping but no swimming. Why no swimming? Because of the residents of the lake, namely alligators and snakes.
Getting a glimpse of the alligators is perhaps the magnet attraction for most visitors. Boat tours occur year-round and three or four times a day depending on the season. The canopy topped wooden vessel carries forty some odd paying passengers and the pilot/tour guide on a one hour trip around the lake stopping periodically to view birds and alligators either swimming in the water or sunning themselves on the shore. The tour narrative is informative and peppered with bits of humor designed to lighten up the crowd.
There were at least twenty alligators seen on my boat tour, the last of the afternoon. The weather and the temperature combined favorably to provide an incredible show of alligator panache. These “critters” sometimes sunned themselves with their jaws open displaying rows of teeth. We were informed by the guide that the gators were just proud of having flossed so well. At other times, they simply lay supine on the ground viewing their world quietly.
The hour trip went by too quickly. Nonetheless, everyone on board the boat had an ample opportunity to view this native wildlife from either the port or starboard side of the boat. The pilot would slow the motor allowing the boat to glide quietly towards the shore, then later come about from a different vantage point. Everyone certainly got their money’s worth!
Hoping to return from Florida having witnessed the “gators” and intending something different than the university football team? Try the Myakka Wildlife Boat Tour; it’s a great excursion. Passengers dock learning a great deal more about many aspects of this unique ecosystem than when they first set out. You, go gators!
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