The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon with a friend or maybe a few family members. This place is for the nature lovers as it is wetlands where a multitude of animals live. There are over 300 different species of birds that can be seen while on this 11-mile driving loop. Other animals that can be seen here are alligators, turtles, river otters, bobcats, coyotes, and the occasional bear and deer meandering through the wooded areas.
The lake itself is over 30,000 acres of land and the North Shore Area, where the driving loop is located, is just over 20,000 acres full of plants and animals. In 1987, Lake Apopka was chosen for cleanup under the Surface Water Improvement and Management Act. This included marsh and floodplain restoration as well as a creation of a marsh flow-way system that filters Lake Apopka’s waters through the restored wetlands. This is how the waters remain clean for the animals instead of building up with algae from stagnant waters.
There’s also a little bit of history here. At one point in time, the grounds were completely water, so the paths where people walk and drive their cars were not always there. Listen to the audio tour on their website while you are driving around the wetlands for an enhanced experience. They have 11 total pieces to listen to and they have little signs on the drive to tell you which number to listen to. It’s mostly general information about the park and a little history. The voices tell listeners about the drive and how it came to be, the different species of animals that are found on the grounds, and how it continues to thrive today with the help of the restoration plan.
For those that are driving, there are multiple stops along the drive where guests are encouraged to get out of their cars and view the natural habitats. This is the perfect scenery for photography practice, so be sure to bring your camera when you come. With all of the wildlife here and the natural wetland areas, it’s perfect for nature photographs.
Another nice thing about the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is that they are open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays as well as most federal holidays. So if you’re looking for something neat to check out and it’s a holiday, this is the perfect opportunity. From sunrise to sunset, the area is open to vehicles, runners, bikers, and even horseback riders.
It also doesn’t cost anything. Guests with their vehicles are welcome to come through one of the four main gates, pick up a pamphlet, and enjoy an afternoon of nature from the comfort of a car. There aren’t any refreshments available on the grounds, but there are port-a-lets at several locations on the driving loop if you need to use the restroom while you’re here.
With speed limit being 10 miles per hour throughout the entire drive, it takes most people between one and two hours to complete the tour if they are in a vehicle, depending on if you get out of the car to enjoy the sunshine and see the animals a little more up close. I recommend going on a day where you won’t be rushed to go through the loop to thoroughly enjoy the peaceful nature that Lake Apopka has to offer.