Canoe camping suggestions in the south

I just got layed off and would like to take advantage of it by doing a couple weeks of camping. I live in Chicago and normally head north (Sylvania, BWCA etc) for my trips and I’m not familiar with comparable places down south. I’d like to head south in January and go someplace that is warm for kayaking/camping/fishing trips. Someplace like BWCA where I could enter the park and kayak/camp for a good 7 days without seeing the same place twice would be ideal. Any suggestions? Do I have to be concerned about kayaking in alligator territory with a SOT kayak?

Alabama Scenic River Trail…
Start about midway down and paddle to wards the gulf…

Warm in January…

– Last Updated: Dec-22-09 9:26 PM EST –

might mean the Everglades. It's an area I've yet to explore, but plenty of information is out there.
Cold fronts frequently hit the southeast throughout the winter, but they usually don't last long. The further south you go, the less likely you'll see one.
It was in the upper thirties overnight here in Central Florida the last couple of nights, but the lows will be back up in the fifties soon.
The Saltwater paddling trail in the Big Bend area is nice, or the Suwanee River.
For referance, we were in the Okeefenokee Dec. 10-14, and two days it was around 40 and raining.
After that, it warmed up nicely.
Don't worry about the alligators. We paddle around them all the time. Just give them the respect they deserve.

um sometimes not
even in the Everglades…Pleasant however. Every year a goldang cold front brings cold…you will need a fleece and hat and sox. They usually let up after a day or so.

So far in three years I have not had the urge to cool down and go swimming in the Glades in January. If you give fair warning in mangrove tunnels you wont have a problem with gators. ( I surprised one… and it surprised me too).

Just enjoy them.

Swannee River

– Last Updated: Dec-22-09 9:23 AM EST –

Sorry about the typo on Suwannee!
Where do I start? Since it will be warmer the further south you go, then Florida is the place. However, even here in South Florida a cold front can come through and drop the night time temperatures into the 30’s, but it will right back up to the 50’s by mid day. For the most part, it is very pleasant in January.

There are so many places to paddle in Florida, but if you want to go for 7 or more days and camp without ever seeing the same thing then I would suggest the Suwannee River. The Suwannee River actually starts in South Georgia in the Okefenokee Swamp and runs for over 200 miles through North Central Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. The upper part is very primitive without much support. From about mile marker 170 south to the Gulf of Mexico you’ll find plenty of camping, showers, food and water, but not many people. In any case you can always camp on a sand bar if like a more primitive setting. It’s a very beautiful scenic river to paddle 20 or 30 miles a day and enjoy the many warm springs on the way south. I would love to go with you, but in January I’m doing the Peace River for 4 days If you decide to wait until February let me know and there’s a good chance I could go with you.

I have included some links that will be very helpful. these 2 links will provide you with all you want to know about a Suwannee River trip. The following link can provide you with awesome free maps of the river, showing parks, camping, canoe launches, mile markers, etc. Here are a couple of outfitters that can transport you back to your vehicle, there are several more.

Have an awesome time!


Suwannee River, Everglades WW info
We did the Suwannee River from Fargo to the Gulf a few years ago - it was great. See website link below and check out the bottom of the trip report for great links and numbers to call for outfitters but especially for the boat ramp map - great map and helpful. Website also links to our trip photos for an idea of what you’ll see…

If you decide to do only part of the river, do the upper part. We liked it so much we will be doing it again in 2010 - February.


See Trip report in Past Trips section. Call for the FREE maps - they helped us immensely.

Site also has other trips documented - you may be interested in the Everglades Wilderness Waterway too. I vote for the Suwannee if you like paddling and the Wilderness Waterway (outside route) for fishing. Heck, if you’ve got the time, do both!!

Have fun and Just Do It!!


Thanks for all the great suggestions. I’m kind of leaning towards the Everglades because it looks alot different than anything I’ve ever paddled before. I’m thinking about starting in Everglades City or Flamingo and doing a loop. Any specific fishing suggestions? I’m looking to do some bass fishing because that is what I know and have gear for.

thanks again for the good info

try joining the
Everglades Exploration Network.

Everglades fishing
The Wilderness Waterway is mostly salt-water - it is the area where the fresh water dumps into the ocean. As you go further inland it does become more fresh water. I’m not a big fisherman but I’ve caught lots of snook and sea trout in the area. Be prepared for the salt water. My friend from Wisconsin was surprised how all his nice equipment became rusted after our Wilderness Waterway trip. Salt water is tough on your equipment.

Others will know more about the fishing. My fishing experience is in the salt water island areas and mouths of the rivers flowing into the Gulf/Florida Bay.

Have fun and bring a map, compass, and GPS if you have one. Bug netting for no-see-ums also recommended - at least a head net.


everglades fishing
The same techniques you use for bass will be fine for snook, redfish, seatrout, small tarpon. Plugs, soft plastics and spinner baits or spoons will work fine. You will need a license and the advice about keeping your gear rinsed and oiled is spot on.

Navigation in the Everglades can be tough. All those mangrove islands look alike. You wil need charts and a GPS is very nice.

There are fewer gators in the salt water areas, and they are not nearly as active in the colder months. I wouuld not think twice about paddling a SOT on the wilderness waterway any time of the year.