Florida Bucket List: Hillsborough River State Park

If you saw my post about my awesome new kayak, you know that I’m trying to cross stuff off my Florida Bucket List. This list was not only inspired by the hot summer weather, but by my Tampa best friend who will be moving sometime next year.

Number one on her list is to see an alligator in the wild, and the Hillsborough River State Park seemed like the perfect place to start our gator adventure. We headed there on a Saturday morning (and it is not minutes from downtown as the website claims) armed with water bottles and cameras, planning on a long day of hiking and gator sightings.

The park ranger at the entrance assured us there were plenty of gators. He even thought it was a good idea to tell us about the time his kayak was flipped over by a gator while he was in it! After a few minutes of discussion, we decided to forgo our safety in exchange for the chance to see a gator.

We parked at the spot that the ranger recommended and heading into the unknown. The trails were pretty well marked and, to be honest, it really was pretty. I’m not a nature person generally but I can appreciate beauty.

We found the river and crossed the suspension bridge. Everywhere we looked seemed like the perfect place for a gator to hang out and chill. We looked and looked and looked from the safety of the bridge high above the water but to no avail.




Can you believe we didn’t see any gators?! I swear if you Google alligator habitat you will see these photos!

So we continued on our search. We saw lots of other things, such as bugs and moss on trees.



But still no gators. We took the path that followed the river, hoping that was the key to our success.


But still no gators. Then we came to the end of the trail. The problem was that everything was flooded. The trails were cut very short by all of the rain we’ve had.


With no where else to look, we admitted defeat and headed back the car. The flooded trails turned out to be a blessing, as it start to pour the moment we closed the car doors!

We won’t give up. Hopefully next time we find gators!

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