Boat Ramps - Boat ramps are located at Flamingo, West Lake, and Little Blackwater Sound on Key Largo. There is also a Park Service ramp next to Outdoor Resorts on Chokoloskee Island, and a canoe ramp at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center.
Boat Launch Fees
Carry all United States Coast Guard required items, including personal flotation devices, on board your boat. It is easy to become confused or lost while traveling through mangroves. Carry a nautical chart and compass. Sudden storms can appear at any time. Check the weather and tides before leaving shore. Leave a float plan with family or friends. Be prepared for mosquitoes during the summer months. Make sure your tales of the Everglades are of lunker fish, and not of being rescued.
No Wake Zones - Operation of a vessel 5 mph (8 kph), or creating a wake, is prohibited in: Gulf Coast Area Alligator Creek, Plate Creek, Halfway Creek, and between Wilderness Waterway markers #86 and #87.
Flamingo Area - Freshwater and saltwater boat basins, Tarpon Creek, Avocado Creek, North Prong Creek, Coot Bay Canal, Buttonwood Canal, and East Cape Canal.
Key Largo Area - Marker 42 Creek, the Boggies, Shell Creek, Nest Key, and McCormick Creek.
Boating Impacts - Propeller damage to seagrass beds is harmful to the marine environment. Be extremely careful when navigating in shallow waters.
Flamingo Marina - Flamingo Marina, open year-round, can accommodate more than 50 boats with electric and water hookups. The channel will accept a four foot maximum draft. Boat fuel is available for sale.
In order to offer additional protection to wildlife habitat, the following areas have been closed to public entry:
Keys and beaches of Florida Bay. With the exception of Carl Ross Key, Little Rabbit Key, North Nest Key, and Bradley Key (during daylight hours only), all keys and beaches in Florida Bay are closed to protect nesting and rookery areas. The waters immediately adjacent to Porjoe, Sandy Key, and the Tern Keys, as posted. The moats and internal creeks, as posted, associated with the Buchanan Keys.
Northeast Florida Bay Closed Areas Include:
Little Madiera Bay, Taylor River, East Creek, Mud Creek, Mud Bay, Davis Creek, Joe Bay and its easternmost portion, commonly called Snag Bay, and all creeks and back bays inland from the northern shoreline of Long Sound to U.S. Highway 1.
Other Closed Areas:
Rogers Bay Rookery; the small group of islands at the southeast entrance to Gaskin Bay, known as Indian Key Rookery; and Cuthbert Lakes with attendant rookery.
Pavillion Key Landing is allowed only on the northern most sand spit. The rest of the key is closed.
Other areas may be posted closed by order of the Park Superintendent. These closed areas represent less than 1% of the total park area. The rest of Everglades National Park is open for your enjoyment.
Water Skis and Personal Watercraft
The towing of persons by vessels utilizing water skis, hydra slides, knee boards or other similar types of equipment is prohibited so that manatees, crocodiles, and nesting birds will not be disturbed. The operation of "personal watercraft" also known as "wet bikes�", "jet skis�", and other trade names, is prohibited.
Canoeing is an excellent way to explore the Everglades, because more than one third of the park is made up of marine areas and shallow estuaries. Check at the Flamingo or Gulf Coast Visitor Centers for maps and directions. Canoes may be rented at Flamingo and Gulf Coast.
Tides and winds can significantly affect your canoe trip. Don't overestimate your abilities.
Suggested equipment includes flotation devices (required by law), paddles, a bailer, bow and stern lines, waterproof bags for gear, a tide chart, water (1 gallon / 4 liters per person), long shirt and pants for sun and insect protection, a wide-brimmed hat, shoes that can get wet, sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
A 7-day launch fee of $3.00 is charged for non-motorized boats.
|Nine Mile Pond Loop||5.2 miles / 8.3 km round trip||11 miles / 18 km north of Flamingo||A scenic trail through a shallow sawgrass marsh with scattered islands of mangroves. Watch for alligators, wading birds, and an occasional eagle. Trail marked with numbered white poles. Motors prohibited.|
|Noble Hammock||2 mile / 3.2 km loop||9 miles / 14 km north of Flamingo||This trail winds through a maze of shady mangrove-lined creeks and small ponds. Sharp corners and narrow passageways require good maneuvering skills. Enjoy a "crash" course. Check for low water levels during the dry season. Motors prohibited. A calm trail on a windy day.|
|Hells Bay||3.0 miles / 4.8 km to Lard Can campsite; 3.5 miles / 5.4 km to Pearl Bay chickee; 5.5 miles / 8.8 km to Hells Bay chickee||9 miles / 14 km north of Flamingo||"Hell to get into and hell to get out of," old timers claimed. This sheltered route weaves through mangrove creeks and ponds to a series of small bays beyond Lard Can. Trail marked with more than 160 numbered poles. Motors prohibited from the trailhead to Lard Can. Backcountry permit required for overnight camping. Pearl Bay chickee is wheelchair accessible.|
Opportunities abound! Watch birds (particularly at Snake Bight during medium to high tide), fish, or enjoy the scenery of the bay. Visit Bradley Key (during daylight hours only), the only nearby key open to landing.
|Bear Lake Canal||1.6 miles / 2.6 km to Bear Lake, 11.5 miles / 18.4 km one way to Cape Sable||2 miles / 3 km north of Flamingo on the Bear Lake Road||Travel along a narrow, tree-covered historic canal. An abundance of tropical plants and tree species is visible along the trail. Impassable etween markers 13 and 17 during the dry season.|
|Mud Lake Loop||6.8 mile / 10.9 km loop from Coot Bay Pond||4 miles / 6 km north of Flamingo||Enjoy a variety of habitats on this loop connecting the Buttonwood Canal, Coot Bay, Mud Lake, and the Bear Lake Canoe Trail. Birding is often good in Mud Lake. Accessible from the Bear Lake Trailhead or Coot Bay Pond. Motors prohibited on Mud Lake, Bear Lake, and the Bear Lake Canal.|
|West Lake||7.7 miles / 12.3 km one way to Alligator Creek||7 miles / 11 km north of Flamingo||Paddle through a series of large open lakes connected by narrow creeks lined with mangroves. Good alligator and crocodile habitat. West Lake is closed to vessels with motors greater than 5.5 h.p. Motors prohibited from the east end of West Lake to Garfield Bight. Not recommended on windy days due to exposed, rough waters.|
Gulf Coast Canoe Trip Areas
Put in at the canoe ramp next to the visitor center or the NPS ramp next to Outdoor Resorts on Chokoloskee Island. Time your trip to have the tides help you. A falling tide flows toward the Gulf of Mexico; a rising tide flows toward the visitor center. Watch your time and keep an eye on the weather. Check at the visitor center for current conditions. Be cautious of the swift currents that run through Sandfly Pass. Nautical charts are recommended; #11430 covers the Chokoloskee Bay area, and may be purchased from area stores or the Natural History Mail Order Bookshelf.
Sandfly Island Trip
2.5 hours round trip (add an hour if traveling against wind and tides) Add one hour to walk the trail on the island.
A marked channel leads you two miles across Chokoloskee Bay to a mangrove island.
Sandfly Island has a dock and a one mile (1600 m) loop walking trail. To go onto the island it is best to land on the shore and walk to the trail, rather than attempting to get out on the dock.
Sandfly Island has a long human history. The island itself is a shell mound created by Calusa Indians. In the early 1900s European settlers had a home site, tomato farm, and even a store on the island. Nature has since reclaimed the island, and virtually no sign of human settlement remains. Before returning to the ranger station you may choose to paddle around the island; however, the oyster bar north of the island may be impassible at low tide. Watch for strong tidal currents south of the island.
Chokoloskee Bay Loop
2.5 hours round trip (add an hour if traveling against wind and tides).
A marked channel guides you along the margin of the Ten Thousand Islands.
Mostly open water with a few small mangrove islands. Explore the small islands, but use caution, especially at high tide. The miniature world of an oyster bar can be explored at low tide, and dolphins and manatees may be seen. Wear shoes if you plan on walking in shallow water. This trip is best suited for novice canoeists.
8 mile (13 km) trail begins along the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41), .5 mile west of the H.P. Williams Roadside Park, and ends in Chokoloskee Bay near Everglades City.
The scenery changes from pine and freshwater cypress forests, to open prairie, to tropical saltwater mangrove swamp. Use extreme caution in the open prairie, as airboats frequent this area. For a longer trip (6 to 7 hours), turn up Left Hand Turner River and go down Halfway Creek into the boating canal near the Gulf Coast Visitor Center.
Halfway Creek and Turner River Loop
4 hours round trip (add one hour if traveling against wind and tide)
Put your canoe in at the launch site behind the Ranger Station.
Follow the shoreline east and paddle up Halfway Creek to Turner Lake, then return to Chokoloskee Bay or the Gulf Coast Visitor Center via Left Hand Turner River.
The Wilderness Waterway
99 mile / 159 km
Inland water route between Flamingo and Gulf Coast
The entire trip takes about 7 hours with an outboard motor, or 9 days by canoe.
Numbered markers guide you through mangrove forests, through Whitewater Bay, and around countless islands. Campsites are available along the route. A backcountry permit is required for overnight camping. Permits may be obtained at the Flamingo or Gulf Coast Visitor Centers.
Boats more than 18 feet (5.5 m) long or with high cabins or windshields should not attempt the trip because of narrow channels and verhanging vegetation.
Nautical charts are necessary for finding your way in the coastal zone, and are useful in planning your trip. They may be purchased from area stores, or from the Natural History Mail Order Bookshelf.
One third of Everglades National Park is covered by water, creating excellent boating and fishing opportunities. Snapper, sea trout, redfish, bass, and bluegill are plentiful. Saltwater fishing includes Florida Bay, Ten Thousand Islands, and elsewhere in the park's coastal zone.
Freshwater and saltwater fishing require separate Florida fishing licenses.
Fishing from the shore is very limited. However, park waters provide thousands of acres of shallow water flats, channels, and mangrove keys in which to fish. Before leaving shore, think safety! Be aware of local boating information.
Also please remember that collecting plants and animals in Everglades National Park is prohibited. This includes such things as orchids, airplants, seahorses, starfish, conch, tropical fish, coral, sponges, and driftwood (except for fuel). One quart of non-occupied sea shells may be collected per person.
Freshwater or Saltwater? All waters from, and including, Nine Mile Pond northward along the Main Park Road are considered fresh water. Interior rivers in the northern part of the park, such as the Turner River, are fresh water.
See the Fishing Guide for fishing regulations and details.
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