Myakka River State Park
Guide

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Introduction

The mighty Myakka River makes up a decent portion of Myakka State Park, and is just one of this area's key features. From the park's northern end, visitors enter and are soon greeted with an astounding Bird Walk and spectacular views of the Myakka Lake. Rounding the lake's edge, the state park's main road leads to Upper Myakka Lake where guests will find the first of three campgrounds.

Big Flats campground is stationed up here, as well as the park's Pink Gator Cafe and other concessions. For guests who aren't stopping here just yet, the road continues along the side of the river. Some may even get a few glimpses of the native alligators. The next two campgrounds are then found - Old Prairie and Palmetto Ridge. On this end, historic sites and the outstanding Canopy Walkway are featured.

When you're looking to get outside any time of year, this is one of the best places to do it. Open year-round, the park and campgrounds are host to many who want to venture a little deeper into this piece of the state. Come here to camp, hike, bike, take a boat tour, kayak, explore, and so much more.

It shouldn't take much convincing - this Florida adventure is the next to get crossed off your list.

RV Rentals in Myakka River State Park

Transportation in Myakka River State Park

Driving

The drive along Myakka State Park road will lead visitors through the park's southern entrance (and past Palmetto and Old Prairie Campgrounds) and follows the Myakka River up to the lake. Up here is where guests will also find the last campground featured at the park (Big Flats Campground.) Still, farther out, guests can drive up to the area's Bird Walk and through to the northern entrance. In all, the road spans over six miles of the park and hits most key features.

Parking

All of the park's key points of interest are readily accessed via Myakka's main road, and parking is rather abundant at popular destinations (such as the area lake.) However, if you've parked yourself for a longer stay, you're likely not looking to hop between lots to get around. Sites at Old Prairie and Big Flats Campgrounds are gravel and vary in permitted vehicle lengths, where the park's third campground, Palmetto Ridge, offers gravel sites that can accommodate larger rigs with back-in as well as more sought-after pull-through sites. Ditch the four wheels for two, to get some good bike riding in, or go all-in with your own two feet. This park makes it fun to get around.

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Myakka River State Park

Campsites in Myakka River State Park

Reservations camping

Old Prairie Campground

Finally, the park's third campground is Myakka's Old Prairie Campground. The 20 sites here are smaller and more wooded. They are much more suited for smaller pop-ups and tent campers. Big rigs are definitely going to have an easier time finding a place to park at Palmetto Ridge (right across Myakka State Park Road). Old Prairie Campground guests will find full bathrooms and showers available, along with electric at each site.

Sites vary somewhat in maximum length of vehicle permitted, so choose carefully when selecting a specific site online. Reservations are not listed as required, but are highly encouraged. This park features three spacious campgrounds and they all fill up quite quickly. To secure the best spot, it's best to get those sites booked early. Guests can reserve a space up to 11 months in advance.

Palmetto Ridge Campground

Myakka River State Park has three campgrounds to choose from when making reservations for the perfect site to park your RV or trailer. With so many to decide between, it may seem a little daunting - which is the best spot? Well, that's a matter of preference in the end, but some sites will also come with max length restrictions. At Palmetto Ridge Campground, rigs up to 45 feet are accommodated, so it's the best option for larger RVs..

Another thing that sets Palmetto Ridge Campground apart from the remaining two of Myakka River State Park is that guests also have full access to laundry facilities, full bathrooms, and hot showers. Sites are also near to a small playground (great for the kids), a community campfire circle, and each come with full hookups.

This campground has it all to help keep your stay comfortable. Sites are either pull-through or back-in, but this place is laid out for easy maneuverability. It's quite open, with no trees to worry about bumping into. Though, the surrounding foliage is still lush and provides privacy between sites. Get your reservations in for these 38 premier sites.

Big Flats Campground

Of three campgrounds featured at Myakka State Park, the Big Flats campground is a popular destination for guests who would like closer access to the grand Upper Myakka Lake. There are 20 sites, of the campground's 24 total, that allow for RV and trailer parking. All sites have a gravel drive and will require backing in your haul. Sites tend to be fairly long and spacious; though, there are maximum length requirements for certain sites. Be sure to not to miss these features when selecting a site online.

While reservations are not required, they are highly encouraged. This park features three large campground sites, and each fills up quite quickly. Reservations can be made with only a day in advance and as far out as 11 months ahead of a scheduled arrival.

The wooded, very shaded campground is a serene setting. Showers and restrooms also help to keep your stay more comfortable here. The path leading from the campground will take guests to the park's concessions and Myakka Lake, where boat tours, swimming, and much more await.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Alternative Park Stay

When choosing to stay at Myakka State Park, you may decide you want to ditch your rig all together. If that's the case, be sure to check out other ways to stay near the campgrounds, such as Myakka's cabins.

If you're feeling a little more rustic, many of the campgrounds provide space not just for rigs, but for traditional tent camping, as well. Some camps even have sites that remain open to tents - only.

Want to take it up a notch? For those who enjoy a good night out backpacking, six primitive campgrounds are provided for making camp along the hiking trails. Always bring enough water if this is more your style of roughing it. For more information, it's advised to call in to the Ranger Station. Open year-round, the park, its various campground selections, and endless opportunities to play and stay make Myakka a sure treat.

Seasonal activities in Myakka River State Park

In-Season

Wildlife Viewing

Turn every corner, and wildlife at the park is abundant. Whether it's catching a glimpse of a deer along a backcountry path, spotting alligators along the river's edge, or listening in on the local chorus of song birds, you're sure to feel in touch with nature. Even during the most popular seasons, the wildlife of Myakka State Park are lively and regularly spotted. The diverse landscape supports so many species. Check in with the park's Visitor Center for viewing tips.

Cafe and Concession

You're going to work up quite an appetite while spending the day out along Upper Myakka Lake. Luckily, the park hosts some fantastic eateries. The Pink Gator Cafe serves up delicious dishes, desserts, and even has craft beer on the menu. Don't fill up too much at the cafe, though. You'll want enough room for ice cream from the Parlor. With energy reserves filled again, it's time for more Myakka fun.

Kayaking and Canoeing

The Mayakka River flows through miles upon miles of Florida landscape, crossing praries, wetlands, and forests. Fourteen miles of this mighty river run right through the state park. Aquatics are popular here, with the river and two lakes attracting all sorts of guests. Canoes and kayaks are popular ways for visitors to get out on the water. Luckily, you don't have to worry about packing your own; the park's Outpost provides rentals.

Lake Boat Tour

While spending the Summer at Myakka State Park, guests can enjoy the waters of both Myakka's River and Upper Lake. The lake remains a beloved favorite among visitors, and wading through its waters is something you can enjoy without having to be the one manning any vessels. The park features two large airboats for lake tours; a unique experience for guests looking for a scenic cruise. These air-powered vessels are able to venture into aquatic terrain that ordinary crafts wouldn't dare. It allows for a whole other take on this piece of the park.

Biking

Myakka State Park provides guests with seven miles of paved road that winds through shaded woods, along grassy Florida marshes, and to the Upper Myakka Lake shore. It's a beautifully scenic ride that you can easily take at your own pace. Biking is also permitted on all backcountry dirt roads that are north of State Route 72, as well as along the Myakka Island Trail to the Carlton Reserve. Be prepared for some more rugged terrain if you're not on the pavement; some areas get muddy, sandy, and sometimes are dug up by feral pigs. Summer rains also mean the roads can get a bit more flooded. The Ranger Station provides detailed maps of the area's best bike paths.

Off-Season

Fishing

Pack your fishing gear - you're going to want to cast out a few lines here. Upper Myakka Lake is the perfect location to reel in some sizeable catches. The lake is full of both large and smaller fish, but you'll also need to watch out for the area's alligators. Alligators are typically quite shy and will leave guests alone, but, to ensure everyone's safety, they shouldn't be approached, manipulated, or enticed. Come see what gives your line a bite.

Horseback Riding

Equestrian trails cross throughout the park as multi-use paths. Myakka State Park is the perfect place to get out for a nice ride along the Florida backcountry. Unfortunately, there are no horse rentals available within the park, but trails are public, so many locals are seen taking advantage of the area's riding. There's nothing quite like taking in the varied landscapes of Myakka on top of a horse.

Canopy Walkway

While visiting Myakka State Park, guests won't want to miss out on an opportunity to access the treetops. The park features a Canopy Walkway, and yet another pastime that sets this place apart from the rest. The walkway serves as a fantastic place to discover Myakka's canopy inhabitants. The first public treetop trail is suspended 25 feet above the ground and extends a full 100 feet through the hammock canopy. Here, you can really take in a bird's eye view. It's a whole new perspective of the park.

Hiking

Hiking is a popular activity that can be enjoyed at most state parks. Myakka is no different. Several trails weave through the landscape, providing numerous opportunities for visitors to really feel like they are getting away from it all. Among the trails to hike here, the popular Myakka Trail is an almost 39 mile loop , with several backcountry roads crisscrossing the trail to aid in shortening (or lengthening) walking trips. Late Fall, throughout the Winter, and into Spring, hikers will experience some of the best times to take advantage of the hiking here. Summer hiking tends to get a little too hot to enjoy and trails are often flooded. Even in cooler seasons, it's always important to travel with sufficient amounts of water.

Bird Watching

Avian enthusiasts are going to love it here in the off season. Open year-round, the park and campgrounds never really close, but you will find that the crowds tend to get a bit less compact as the Winter seasons roll through. However, while the people may not be shuffling in as quickly, the birds certainly are. It's a wonderful location to see birds of all species. The acreage here provides all sorts of habitats that suit everything from song birds to raptors, and many more in between. On most days in November through April, the park hosts a bird naturalist at the Bird Walk. Guests are welcome to call the Ranger Station to see if the naturalist is on duty.

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