Added by Daniel Madrigal

100 miles of isolationUnlimited alternate routesOne of the most rewarding trips of your lifeMix and match most of the parks 56 backcountry sitesIt can be done in about 4 days or you can take a weekBragging rightsAs backcountry as it gets in the lower 48

You can start north to south, or south to north. Either way is fantastic, and you can plan your own route according to where you want to camp. Some of the highlights of the trip are Highland Beach, Rodger's River, Watson's Place, Gopher Key, and Darwin's Place. You will see dolphins, gators, manatees, and an insane amount of birds on this route. What you probably won't see is other people. I spent 3 days without encountering another human in the middle portion of my trip. Because of this, a personal locator is a must. This is as wild as it gets in the lower 48. You will be 50 miles from civilization on this trip.

The official route is on park maps but is mostly used by boaters. Create your own route, weaving through the outside and inside routes. Plan your trip so that you stay at beach sites, ground sites, and chickees. You will paddle in rivers, open water, bays, and small creeks on this trip.

Logistics can be a little daunting, considering that when you get back, your car will be hundreds of miles away. Use the Ivey House in Everglades City (877-567-0679) or Everglades International Hostel in Homestead (800-372-3874) for shuttle service, if you can't arrange for a friend or family pickup. Florida Bay Outfitters proves an awesome selection of kayaks for reasonable prices (305-451-3018).

Reserving campsites in the Everglades can only be done in person, 24 hours in advance. The great thing about this trip is if one of your sites is full, you can book another without really deviating more than a few miles from your route. Here is the link from the NPS to help you plan this trip.

One of the most important things to know about this trip is that there is NO drinking water anywhere. You must take your entire supply with you. This should not be a problem due to the fact that you will be in a kayak or canoe. My kayak easily swallowed 8 gallons of water with ample room left over for my other gear.

To get to the Flamingo Marina Visitors coming from the Miami area and points north, you should take the Florida Turnpike (Route 821) south until it ends, merging with U.S. 1 at Florida City. Turn right at the first traffic light onto Palm Drive (State Road 9336/SW 344th St.) and follow the signs to the park. It is 38 miles from the park entrance.

To get to the Everglades City Marina, head to the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, located 5 miles south of Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail) on State Road 29, in Everglades City. From Interstate 75 (Alligator Alley), take exit 80 (State Road 29) south and proceed 20 miles to Everglades City. Once in Everglades City, follow the signs to the park. The visitor center is on the right.

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VISIT FLORIDA, serves as Florida's official source for travel planning. What can be discovered beyond Florida’s 825 miles of beaches? How about 320 freshwater springs, 175 state parks, infinite mangrove tunnels and hidden caverns. Let your adventure begin. Follow Your Sunshine.

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