fresh water source in Everglades

We’re planning a 10-day paddling trip to Everglades in February, and are concerned about where to get drinkable water. Can anyone provide some suggestions? Thanks!

Where in the Everglades?
If you are in the Park there are few towns and Flamingo. Otherwise best to carry all you need.

assuming you’re talking about a trip on or near the wilderness waterway, you’ll have to carry all of the water you’ll need for the trip. there isn’t any place to resupply as all the water is brackish to salty. figure a gallon per day per person, plus extra for cooking. carry your water in hard sided containers because the raccoons are fearless and thirsty! packing the water in a canoe is easiest, but by using small containers a surprising amount of water can be packed in a kayak. a truly great place to go. have a great trip. -harry

fresh water source in Everglades
We haven’t confirmed our exact route, but we know at least one destination is Northwest Cape. Thanks for the info about the lack of water supplies, which is what we had suspected. We’re also looking at MSR Dromedary bags to carry water: sure hope these can provide enough protection from raccoons.

water resources
As stated, there is no potable freshwater away from Flamingo, E-city ranger station, or Chokoloskee & best plan is to carry all you need. Some guidebooks say one can supplement cooking water by using some add. brackish water but you need to be away from coast to find it & I’ve never tried doing so. You may be able to capture some rainwater or beg some from other passing boaters but don’t count on it. (We always offer our spare water to other paddlers once we’re certain we’ll have enough to finish)

You might also consider doing a figure “8” loop trip out of E-city & stopping @ ranger station to replenish water supply before heading back out for 2nd part of loop.

As stated, be sure to use hard-sided containers !

dromedary bags
ok if kept inside kayak hatches. racoons will tear these to shreds if you use them in a canoe or leave them out.

It is hard to get saltwater to mix with fresh for cooking. Very shallow around beach camps so lot’s of sand mixed in with the water. The backcountry (inside route) sites have better access for mixing fresh/saltwater for cooking. Honestly, I wouldn’t do it and would just count on bringing a MINIMUM of 3/4 gallon per person per day.

Depending on where you are leaving

If from the NP ranger station on the north end at Everglades city that would be your last place.

If from the south end it would be Flamingo.



…but you might be able to score ice as opposed to -and possibly in preference to -water from a passing boater, especially anglers. Actually, you might just as easily score a beer…LOL!

For most of the year, ice will go down MUCH more pleasantly ;-> and hydrate as well, as you, through that marvelous, fragile area we know as the Everglades,


-Frank in Miami

we use hard sided containers like
gas cans only they are blue and never carried kero or anything else.

Dont use those camp containers for water like the Reliance collapsible ones. Raccoons will chew through those.

We have one solo canoe and one kayak and will try taking some recycled soda bottles in the kayak…they can first double as a cooler for the first couple of nights and then fit in the bow for drinking water…best to ensure the lids are on snug!

That in addition to the two jugs. And each gallon weighs 8 lbs. Its going to affect the performance of your boat at the outset. Dont despair, it gets better.

You can always take some beer in odd spaces in your kayak!

best free beers I’ve ever had
A Canadian in a motorboat gave me a cold one on Pavillion Key in ENP

Rafting party shared their stock of Dale’s pale Ale on Utah’s Green River

Based on Dromedary bag proposal, guessing OP’s paddling a kayak. IMO canoes make carrying lotsa water much easier. We use Reliance hard-sided 6 gal jerrycans-$6-7 @ Wallyworld, but they need to stand upright. More expensive versions can be laid flat for more stability/lower center of gravity

Also, we’ve gotten away w/ storing a soft sided solar shower full of fresh water in out tent vestibule @ night but wouldn’t want to trust my drinking water to this method

Water/ Coons
I’ve paddled the Everglades a few times and have ended up using the dromedary bags as my water containers of choice in my sea kayak. I place them inside my hatches at night with the hatch covers on and turn the boat upside down preferably near my tent so I can hear the coons if they get frisky about my boat. No issues so far. At one point early on I additionally tied lengths of line around my boat around the hatch covers just to be sure but I think that was slightly overkill. Beach sites and ground sites I would be concerned- chickee sites I don’t think I would worry about too much. The dromedarys will easily fit in your kayak or canoe. Hard containers of the volume you need will only fit in a canoe. The gallon a day figure is good, though I have done trips where I came back with alot of extra water, and trips where I came back with none extra using that formula- depends on the weather somewhat. With a large group the gallon a day should be puhlenty per person including cooking. It is not fun coming back with no water. Flamingo and Chokoloskee/Everglades City are your only sources. Wine bottles fit very conveniently in the bow of sea kayaks. You will have a wonderful time guaranteed. Note- Florida 'coons are the smartest and most aggressive I’ve ever encountered. Not so much in the Everglades, where they’re still relatively wild, but the State park coons are something to behold. They are on duty 24 hours a day and have seen and circumvented nearly every latch/zipper known to man. Smart tenters use twisties to tie their tent zippers closed because the coons have learned how to open tent zippers. I have learned the hard way that they will get into an unguarded/unlocked cooler in the middle of the day–but–this is the cool part-- they will eat everything in the cooler but the tofu–won’t touch it evidently. My girlfriend is a vegetarian, and now I can say- “if a coon won’t eat it then I sure don’t see why I should!” Another neat trick if you don’t like the folks camping next to you- leave a 6pack of coke or pepsi or, even better, mountain dew cans outside your tent. The coons have learned to easily chew through aluminum cans and slurp the soda and end up with an outrageous caffeine/sugar buzz that gets them all squirrely and feisty and they will scream and fight with each other for awhile after they slurp your soda. Campers not in the know hate it. Campers in the know hate it too. Think abit about noseeums on the beach sites- they will quickly make you humble for a brief time at dusk and dawn- but a head net or simply jumping early into the tent will take care of it. Have a great paddle!

Great advice and very funny! nmsg

one more question…(or two)
Thank you, THANK YOU for all your helpful advice about Everglades water sources and water storage containers.

I have a couple more questions:

  1. We’ve recently purchased a used, foldable Klepper kayak, and will be using this boat for our Everglades trip. For as fine as Kleppers are, they have no hatches. Does anyone have any suggestions (or experience) with Klepper kayaks in regards to keeping water containers safe from coon destruction?

  2. In my previous trip to Cape Sable, we used several five-gallon buckets to store food items at our campsites, (they were great!) We also were traveling in canoes during that trip. Can anyone suggest coon-proof, food storage containers we could use on this trip with our Klepper kayak?

    I really do appreciate your help!

daytime vs nightime water storage
Disclaimer - I have zip kayaking experience & knowledge

We also used 5 gal pails for food storage on our 1st Everglades trip. Now use one of those blue storage barrels so popular in Canada.

Might it be possible to lash an empty hard-sided container to your deck (like mentioned above or rigid ice chest w/ lid)& use it @ night to protect your water which could be contained within smaller, soft containers while afloat ?

Just a thought FWIW

They are not terrible everywhere out there.

I was on East Cape a few weeks ago and didn’t even see tracks. Pavilion Key has been the worst I’ve seen as they form little raiding parties. However they have never gotten though my cockpit cover but I don’t keep food or water in my cockpit although I’m sure there are some smells in there from fishing.

One thought on storage might be to use small hard sided coolers, strap the top down and tether it to the inside of the boat.

There are some fresh/brackish sources
If you’re paddling the inside route at all and if the 'Glades have gotten some good rains within two weeks of your journey then here’s a few sources east of the mentioned campsites worth trying:

Sweetwater Creek

Lostmans Five


Camp Lonesome


It’s sort of hit or miss but if the water suits your taste (for lack of salinity) then boil and filter (I use a bandana) the water before ingesting. I carry about 6 to 8 gallons from home and start my search for water from a halfway point on my trip (usually Willy-Willy or Lostmans Five).

I have found potable water anywhere from the campsites themselves to having to paddle almost five miles upstream.

So yes, there are freshwater sources to be found if you’re willing to put forth the effort to get it.

now as to a hint how to get out
of a kayak and onto a chickee without swimming?

Its a bit of a problem especially solo.

NPS employee actually a few years ago on the quiet confessed to taking a hammer, nails and a few short lengths of wood. Remove all trace on leaving.

I usually “make love” to the wood …

Hug it for all I am worth.

but make sure you tie a line to the yak first, cause it is going sailing once you give that last shove out of it.