Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park

As I have mentioned, one of our considerations for our winter location was the proximity to things that interest us, such as state and national parks.  The panhandle is full of state parks and close to several national parks.  For our first Florida state park excursion, we chose Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park.  I think the word “bayou” is what really had us interested.  You see, I am on a mission.  It can be your mission too, should you choose to accept it.  The mission is to see a wild Florida alligator in the panhandle.

My parents took my family to the Everglades when we were young.  We took a small boat ride through dense mangroves to float with the alligators.  I think those first experiences in the mangroves stayed with me, and blossomed in to a true love of swampland:  the Spanish moss, cypress roots, gators, turtles and frogs.  Its still waters that seem frozen in time.  Its maze-like paths and waterways that hide secrets around every bend.  The swamp is special to me.

Now, Chris and I have viewed wild alligators before too.  We have viewed them from a boat tour on Myakka River in Florida, as well as strolled passed them on Magnolia Plantation and Gardens outside of Charleston, SC.  Incidentally, Magnolia is one of my favorite places.  If you visit Charleston, I highly recommend the trip to Magnolia for the beauty, the history and the enchanting experience.

Back to the mission at hand.  Yes, there are alligators in the panhandle (actually I believe they can be found in every county in Florida).  In the summer, they are not hard to find.  However, the winter complicates our mission.  Alligators are much harder to find in the winter in the panhandle.  So, we are taking our mission seriously and a “bayou” sounded like a good place to start.

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park does have camping, with large spaces for RVs each with some privacy.  Rocky Bayou is the main feature of the park and it is a part of the larger Choctawhatchee Bay.  There is a playground for children with plenty of picnic tables, and in the summer, you can rent kayaks to explore the water.  There is a $5 daily use fee, but it is well worth it for the clean, fully flushing facilities available.  Here is the spot where we ate lunch overlooking the bayou…Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park FLRocky Bayou SP also offers several short hikes.  As we hit the trails, we were immediately struck by the FLAT paths.  Our Utah and Wyoming hikes routinely contained steep climbs, so Florida hikes are a nice respite.  Here are some of our photos from our hikes…Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park FL

Some of the pitcher plants that remind you of the killer instincts present in the swamp…

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park FL Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park FL

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park FL

And the friendlier fauna…

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park FL

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park FL

While we thoroughly enjoyed our hikes, we did not see any gators, or even snakes.  The most dangerous element we passed were the pitcher plants!  But there were plenty of birds, they were just too fast for me to capture them in a photo.  We saw wrens, tufted titmice, a rufous sided towhee (my parents’ favorite bird), cormorants, different types of ducks, and an osprey.

So, the mission continues…

About Jen

I love travel, which led me to become a fulltime RVer. I love wellness, which I can talk about 'til the cows come home. I love being self-employed, which means I get to dabble in what interests me from essential oils to RV planners. But most importantly, I love my husband and our life together on the road!

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