This is one of my favorite state parks in Florida because there is so much to do here. In fact, I have spent the week or so before Christmas and Christmas Day here in 2012, 2014, and now in 2016. Myakka consists of 37,000 acres of lake, marsh, pine scrub, and prairie. And actually, only a small part of it is open to the public. Most of it is a wildlife preserve and open only to hikers with a permit.
Most people drive directly from the entrance to the concession area on the edge of the lake. You can fish from the bank or kayak on the lake, but no other types of boats are allowed, other than the large and noisy "world's slowest airboat" that takes tour groups several times a day across the lake to where more wildlife hangs out. I plan to sign up for that on Christmas Eve.
This is an example of one of the large areas of marsh/prairie in the park. It is mostly wet with some areas wetter than others.
I took a tram tour into the back areas of the park with a couple of friends who met me here. This area was once a cattle farm, but most of it is grown up with brush and trees since then so it looks much as it did when the native Americans lived here.
The park service was busy burning sections last week to reduce the invasive species and keep the scrub down to where it was before fire was suppressed. The trees easily survive these low and controlled fires, and by spring you will not be able to see the burned areas because new growth will return.
And a few alligators. I think you can pretty much always be sure of seeing alligators here.
They have such amazing faces!
This guy was really just yawning, but you can see his throat flap, which keeps him from swallowing water when he opens his mouth underwater.
And a couple of black vultures. They are a little smaller than turkey vultures and have no red on their throats.
I took a bike ride later and took this photo of a river that empties into the lake.
And a boardwalk to look at birds on the east end of the lake.
This great blue heron is wearing his breeding plumage. We don't see this often in the north, but those wispy feathers show he is in prime condition for breeding. Unfortunately, it is those feathers which once adorned ladies' hats and almost wiped out his species!