Winter paddling ... where to drive to?

Hi all,

Currently in Boulder, CO. Spent the summer in Seattle. What amazing paddling out on the coast! Me and my budy want to paddle the coastal regions for a couple weeks in January. Want some place warm. Thinking about driving to Florida or Texas or some other place warm.

Any recommendations? What is the temprature like and how is the camping conditions etc. Thanks in advance.


If it is your first time and you will be
tent camping, and you have never been to Florida, why not try the Everglades National Park.

Go to the south end and camp in the Long Pine Key campground which isn’t too far in from the entrance.

Make that your base camp, and then you can take day trips or even overnighters on the wilderness waterway. (there are many salt water as well as fresh water options there)

Also you are only a hour from Key Largo and there are a bunch of paddling opportunities either in the Gulf or the Atlantic.

In the winter the weather is always balmy (70’s to eighties) and it very seldom rains.

Take plenty of bug spray and sun screen.

If you do decide to go that direction, let me know and I’ll e-mail you with a bunch of good routes, with put-ins and coordinates.



winter paddling in Colorado
Certainly, Key Largo is a nicer place to paddle in winter than in Colorado. Nevertheless, I paddle year around in Colorado: South Platte River below Denver (e.g., when local lakes are frozen or driving south to Lake Pueblo ( which stays mostly open all winter. There are some nice warm days in winter here.

i drive about 10 minutes to
one white water river, 45 minutes to another and so on. Kayak surfing requires a bit longer of a drive at about 2 hours, 4 if was preparred to go farther afield and to the ocean itself, 10 minutes. None of this happens if we get snow which is fortunately seldom.

Sea of Cortez , Mexico (Closest Ocean)
Calm waters mostly, very warm, very nice, pretty isolated.

Watch out for strong afternoon winds.

Take I-25 South to I-10, west to I-8. Near Phoenix 85 through Why to Organ Pipe National Monument, get car insurance in Why, cross over at Sonoyta, head to Puerto Penasco, then head south down the coast or better yet go to Mexicali and head south down the other coast to Bahia de Los Angeles.

Cheap food and accomadations, you can camp on the beaches too, watch out for very high and low tides. Lot’s of books and webpages with spots to stay …

Thanks for the info all!

JAckL, I am sure to hit you up with some more info on the Everglades. As for Sea of Cortez, I am not sure I want to drive my car and two boats into mexico and then leave it unattended for a few days. But if others have experienced better there, do let me know. Thanks!


If you have the time, go with the
Everglades. For just paddling, it would be the better experience than Texas. While Texas has some great coastal paddling, its not as intense as the Everglades and destinations are a bit more spread out. Now, if you were fishing, it would be the closest place to hook up with redfish and speckled trout.

Sea of Cortez
Is one of the coolest places I have visited … this link from a commercial outfitter in San Diego will give you an idea.

When we leave our cars in Baja we leave them at an established campground and pay the hosts to watch the cars. Never had a problem. When I went with aqua adventures they even left equipment in the back of the truck open. There is however a state department warning about traveling in Mexico right now. I think Sea of Cortez region is fairly safe however.

Any time
just let me know if you want ocean paddling, swamp paddling or a combination of both, and I’ll send you some info on trips that we have done.



Temps dont matter
just drive tell the water is not solid and go paddle…

Texas coast
Here’s some ideas:

Matagorda Island has been on my “must see” list for too long:

There’s no longer a ferry to

– Last Updated: Nov-16-06 3:14 PM EST –

Matagorda Island. The only way to get there is by long paddle, a sightseeing boat, or a charter. Its doubtful a sightseeing boat runs this time of the year. On that part of the coast, while not exactly cold, it can get pretty chilly and windy. As for the other trails, its nice stuff, but isn't something I'd drive 1200 miles to see.

“The only way to get there is by long paddle”

That sounds cool!

Camp Gecko
in Bahia de Los Angeles and Campo La Jolla near Ensenada can watch your vehicles and gear.

Go to it.
Its an 11 mile paddle across the bay and Intracoastal canal. The island is nice, and isolated, especially in the winter. Spend the money to rent a ride over, though, and your arrive less tired and have more time to enjoy the island and wildlife on both the bay bay side and ocean front.

First off, thanks for all the info. Really appreciate it!

So now we have decided to drive to FL. Its a long drive. But we like warm waters to goof off in. The situation is as follows:

  1. We leave mid Dec for 2-3 weeks.
  2. Need to acquire skills. I am about a BCU 2* paddler, and my buddly is fairly new to the game. The plan was to show him what I know in a warm lake and then take a few days boot camp course to get to BCU 3* certification and learn the tides/currents better of the south atlantic and the gulf.
  3. The rest of the time is had at the National park and out on the coast.


  4. Do you know any outfitters (sweet water maybe?) that are operating classes (preferably multi day camp) in Dec and who are good instructors?
  5. Any recommended lake to practice skills on down there?
  6. Any other recommendations?

    Thanks a ton in advance.


If you are going to the east side there are several. KayakJeff just opened a new paddleshop in Ft. Lauderdale and he trained me for my three star. Great instructor. e-mail me if you want his number. On the West Coast there is Sweetwater and I got my 3 star certification there with Russell. Great guys both.