Deep Hole – Myakka River State Park

Deep Hole. This place is amazing! This alligator magnet is located in the Lower Lake at Myakka River State Park. I’ve been wanting to go back to Deep Hole for a while…and it was worth the wait! We canoed through the Lower Lake years ago and saw alligators, but they were swimming around. Not piled up all over the place like they were today. I have never seen anything like this before!

If you’d like to read our post about Myakka River State Park check it out here. In our previous post we discussed all of the amazing things Myakka River S.P. has to offer.

Even though Deep Hole is located in the State Park you do need a special permit to visit. Only 30 permits are given out daily! The Ranger Station starts handing them out at 8am and we’ve heard that they’re usually gone within the hour, sometimes even within the first 15 minutes! So if you want to go to Deep Hole you have to be at the Ranger Station early…and you have to be quick! Good luck!

The hike from the parking lot to Deep Hole is 2.2 miles (4.4 miles roundtrip). The above picture is what you’ll see on almost the entire hike. The path is wide and will meander through a wide open prairie. The views are beautiful! Along our hike we saw Osprey’s carrying sticks up to the top of a tree to build a nest. We also saw Sandhill Cranes flying and squawking like pterodactyls! You will definitely see and hear many animals along the way! The kids also had a fun time trying to identify all of the different animal tracks we saw. You know you’re almost at your destination when the prairie turns into a wooded canopy. Before you know it you’ve gone the 2.2 miles and you’ve finally made it!

Winter seems to be the best time to visit Deep Hole if you’re looking for alligators. The water was so low! You’d never know that Myakka was still drying out from the Hurricane that visited us a few months ago! The open vista filled with such vibrant colors was amazing. Deep Hole is off to your left, Lower Myakka Lake pretty much surrounds half of it. There really aren’t any good words that can describe what we saw other than amazing! There were literally hundreds of alligators. They were everywhere – in the water, on the land, climbing on top of each other. Every.Where.

What also amazed us was the amount of different species of birds hanging out in and around the Deep Hole! We saw Sandhill Cranes, Great Blue Heron, Wood Storks, White Pelicans…so many that a few species we couldn’t even identify! We must of been there at feeding time for the birds because everywhere we looked another bird was grabbing a fish. It was really neat to just stand there and watch all of the things going on around us.

While standing there soaking it all in one of the kids noticed 5 deer straight across the lake. They were way off in the distance, but thankfully we brought a really good pair of binoculars (be sure to bring a pair!). We could see them munching on grass and eventually prancing off into the woods.

Deep Hole continues to be a mystery because it is not known why so many alligators like to converge on this 140-foot sinkhole. Maybe they just like to cuddle in the wintertime?! No matter the reason, they sure do make quite a unique scene for all of us to enjoy!

Before we made our way back to the car we took one of the side trails to see the Lower Lake. The trail is a short distance north of Deep Hole. There are signs pointing the way so you shouldn’t miss it. The views of the Lower Lake are equally as breathtaking, although not 1 single alligator! It’s so bizarre that hundreds will huddle up together just a few hundred yards away in a sinkhole, but not 1 so much as swam by while we were at the Lower Lake.

If you have the chance to visit Deep Hole, DO IT! I hope you’ll see as many neat things as we did on our trip out to Deep Hole! Be sure to bring along your hiking essentials (water, sunscreen, hat, hiking boots, trekking poles, etc.), but also be sure to bring the best binoculars and camera you have! You will definitely want to document what you saw and show it off to all of your friends! When you do make it out to Deep Hole be sure to stop by our Facebook Page and let us know! We’d love to hear and see how your adventure turned out!

Want to show the world you successfully hiked to Deep Hole?! Check out our ‘I Survived Deep Hole’ t-shirt!

Looking for a cool way to keep track of your hikes and travels? Check out our Hiking Log and Passport Book!!

26 thoughts on “Deep Hole – Myakka River State Park”

  1. This sounds amazing and we are planning a trip to Sarasota in April. Do you know if permits are available then?

    1. Permits are available everyday from the ranger station. It is best to get to the park early as they go quickly.

        1. It is a great hike down to the water. I would suggest getting to the park early as they limit the number in the wilderness area to 30 people a day. Enjoy the hike and feel free to post pictures to our Hike It Florida page.

    1. The way to get to Deep Hole is hiking along a service road that is 2.2 miles long. Taking a standard walker or a wheel chair would be very difficult. If you had access to a very rugged off road wheel chair that could possibly work.

    1. If the area is dry then yes that could be a good time to go. Typically the best time to go is on a sunny cold day when there is no wind. The alligators will be trying to get warm from the sun and get out of the water

  2. Hi there, my wife and i are visiting florida in april 2023. We would love to come to the Deep Hole. We are staying in Bradenton, so that’s not far from the park.
    Can you please give us some answers on the following questions:
    * we would like to know the adress where the entrance to the Deep Hole is; and
    * we understand that there is limitid access, where and what time we should be present;
    Thanks in advance !
    Jan & Boukje van der Heide, The Netherlands

  3. We went to Deep Hole Feb 14 2023.
    For some reason there has been a decline in the number of Alligators; however, we saw at least 100 along the banks once we got there.
    Be clear, it is a trek, 2+ miles each way, along a sandy road mostly
    without shade.
    Hats and water are a MUST!
    It’s our understanding that the wildlife, primarily gators, congregate there because even when the water in the lake is low the nearly 13’ deep hole concentrates fish and turtle so there is always a food source.

    1. No facilities on the trail at all….you also cannot leave anything behind best bet is to go at the rangers station before the hike.

  4. Hello there! I may be a little naïve, but what is to keep the alligators from going on the path? It sounds like there are little side paths and so I’m thinking that there is no fence. Thanks so much!

  5. I woke up early to wait in line for a pass for 2 people. We wanted to go later in the day. Once I got to the ranger’s station I was told all people wanting a pass to Deep Hole must be present. Be forewarned.

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