Canoeing & Kayaking in the Everglades

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By: Chris Cavis

For nature enthusiasts, Everglades National Park is a superb wetland for canoeing and kayaking. Made up of 1.5 million acres of protected marshland and winding waterways, its plethora of unique habitats filled with hundreds of species of birds, marine life and vegetation sets the Everglades apart from any other national park.

Gearing up

Whether a novice or an experienced paddler, you can plan a once-in-a-lifetime excursion through this hidden jewel in South Florida. A phenomenal adventure is on the horizon, so here are a few options for getting you geared-up and ready to go:

Rentals

Canoe, kayak and tandem kayak rentals are available at the Flamingo Visitor Center from Flamingo Adventures. The visitor center is located about 38 miles (a one-hour drive) south of the Homestead entrance point to Everglades National Park. It’s located near several basins and bays that connect to the Gulf of Mexico, making it a great place for a paddling adventure. 

Permitted Guides and Ranger-Guided Tours

If you are renting a canoe or kayak, a list of permitted park guides can be found here, all of which have proper licensing. These knowledgeable guides can unlock the secrets of the Everglades, leading you through its winding waterways and answering any questions you may have. 

The park also hosts ranger-guided tours throughout the year and may provide guided kayaking or canoeing tours. Check the park calendar for information on ranger-guided programs. Because of COVID-19 precautions, all ranger programs are currently paused.

Use of Personal Equipment

If you plan to bring your own canoes or kayaks, there are several launch sites around the park. Contact Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, Flamingo Visitor Center or Shark Valley Visitor Center for specific launch sites and details. 

Day-Trip Trails

Flamingo Paddling Trails

Nine Mile Pond: This well-marked canoe trail is approximately a three-hour long journey through the majestic tunnel of trees. A visitor-favorite geared for beginners, Nine Mile Pond is teeming with wildlife such as alligators, herons, and many other bird species.

Hell’s Bay: A popular trail for the more experienced paddler, Hell’s Bay consists of narrow channels and large lakes. There are three campsites along Hell’s Bay, one of which is a dock out in the middle of the water (a chickee) where you can tie off to take a break. The remarkable mangrove-lined waterways make Hell’s Bay a scenic trip.

Multi-Day Canoe and Kayaking Trips

Camping in Everglades National Park is the ultimate way to get in touch with nature. Careful planning is advised. You need to decide which campsite to use, which trails to paddle and the amount and type of supplies needed beforehand. Contact the park for help planning a trip as well as information about campsites and amenities.
 

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