Everglades City Flotilla
I’m Paul MacCartney - Ohio resident; everglades enthusiast. I’ve traveled in the NW everglades area for the last several years. Given that we can’t do Flamingo this year, I happily volunteered to spearhead a NW everglades excursion. I’m renting a house in Everglades City for a couple of weeks including the dates of the flotilla. The house is in southeast Everglades City (EC) near the Oyster House Restaurant. Please feel free to view this house as Flotilla Central. You know: mi casa es su casa.
http://www.gladeshaven.com/photo_galler ... tals_2.jpg
My recommendations are as follows (links below):
Trail Lakes Campground
Collier Seminole State Park
Trail Lakes Campground
Outdoor Resorts at Chokoloskee Island
Hotels / cabins:
Given that Glades Haven allows RVs and cabin dwellers that might be a good choice. Also, since Trail Lakes accommodates tents and RVs, that would also be good. Unfortunately, no place accepts all three (to my knowledge).
Here’s some more detail…
There isn’t much in the way of tenting in Everglades City. There are a few tent options on 41 ranging from Collier Seminole SP to Trail Lakes. The good news is these campgrounds are fairly close to the put-ins for the Turner River, Halfway Creek, and East River mangrove trails. The bad news is, they are all 10-20 minutes from Everglades City. For the really adventurous, I know of a few primitive campsites that are great. But that will put you at least 30 minutes from EC. I’d stay there myself if I weren’t serving as Flotilla Central. Let me know if you’re into primitive camping and I’ll hook you up.
Some camping links:
http://www.floridastateparks.org/collie ... efault.cfm
Trail Lakes Campground - 8 miles from Everglades City. It has a bath house with hot showers. The group rates for tent campers is $7 per night and $18 for RVs. It has four lakes for fishing, no swimming. They have 100 or so RV sites and unlimited tent sites. The gentleman I talked to said they’ve never been fully booked in his 10 years there.
RVers and Hotel people
There are several options for RVers and hotel folks These links will give you an overview:
(Outdoor Resorts and Glades Haven have RV accommodations)
If you’d like more options, just google “Everglades City” accommodations. The rates are about the same as Flamingo, if memory serves me correctly. As I mentioned, I’ll be staying at the Glades Haven. http://www.gladeshaven.com/index.php
I’m going to bring my movie projector and cinema screen. I plan to show the following movies:
“Distant Drums” – 1950s movie staring Gary Cooper. It’s a Hollywood version of the Seminole Wars. It’s not Citizen Kane, but at least you’re not sitting in a doctor’s office waiting-room enduring a Brittany Spears video.
“Beneath the 12 Mile Reef” – another 1950s movie. This is one of Robert Wagner’s earliest films. It’s about the Conch / Tarpon Springs sponge wars. It’s also a redo of Romeo and Juliet. I bet you never thought those two things would come together in a movie. Best part of the movie is that it’s set in the western Everglades / Florida Bay area.
“Wind Across the Everglades” – now this really is a treat. You can’t buy this movie. You also can’t record it because no broadcasters play it these days. It stars Christopher Plummer and Burl Ives. What a great flick. It’s the story of a naturalist trying to save the birds of the Everglades and a rouge plume hunter trying to make a living by pillaging the birds. Who do you think plays who – rouge and naturalist - Plummer and Ives?
“Adaptation” – This movie is existential, transcendental, differential, and a few other ‘entials. All of which I don’t really get. More importantly, it’s shot in and around Everglades City and the Fakahatchee Swamp. The object of the movie is the extremely rare Ghost Orchid. I thought we’d watch the movie one night, then head out to the Fakahatchee Swamp the next day. Last February, I was with a local photographer and biologist when they discovered 14 ghost orchids in a previously unknown slough in the Fakahatchee. The plants really aren’t much to look at this time of year, since they’re not in bloom. But it’s fun to trek in and out. The Fakahatchee Swamp is not for the faint of heart. I’ve only gone in solo once. I swore I wouldn’t do that again.
Day Paddle Routes
Jeff Ripple has a good book covering the day paddle routes in the area, which I’ll bring with me. You can peruse and choose your routes throughout the flotilla. I’ll cover a few here to give you an idea.
This is a good trip for those staying in Everglades City. There are several options and loops. It’s accessible from EC and US 41.
Turner River is southeast of Halfway Creek and easily accessible from Chokoloskee and US 41. It can also serve as the starting point for an overnight route including Sunday Bay or Lopez.
This route has a nice combination of mangrove tunnels and wide open lakes. I’ve done this one at night – which is a lot of fun. US 41 is the access point for the East River.
This is supposedly some of the toughest paddling in the Everglades. I haven’t done this paddle yet, but maybe this is the year.
If Wilma’s damage to the other routes proves to be too daunting, the Sandfly route(s) will be a refuge. This is a nice round-trip that will leave you plenty of time to hike on Sandfly Island. If you’re wondering – yes, the island is well named.
Other gulf paddles
The mangrove islands to the southwest of Everglades City give the area it’s name – Ten Thousand Islands. You could paddle for days. Don’t go alone, and bring a couple of GPSs with good batteries. You can get lost in this area in a matter of minutes. Also, watch very carefully for oyster shoals. This is a local hazard not seen in the flamingo area. The shoals are said to be capable of cutting through hard shell boats.
There are several itineraries that are well documented in Johnny Molloy’s book, so I won’t reiterate that here. I talked to the park service this morning and they said they hope to know more about the back country camps sites in a week or two. I’m guessing there will be at least some sites available if not all. In addition to the chickee camping options, there are some nice sunset-facing beach camping opportunities at Rabbit, Tiger, and Pavilion Keys.
Non-folbot things to do
I’ve got a stack of books covering things to see and do in the area. They cover hiking, biking, museums, and much more. I’ll bring them all and you can pick your itineraries. I’ve been going to the area for years and there’s still a lot that I haven’t covered yet.
The Seafood Festival
Once a year, Everglades City turns into a mad-house. This year it’s Feb 4, 5, and 6. That could put a wrinkle in our plans or provide a great opportunity – depending on how you look at it. To get a feel for the Festival, gander at this:
http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:zgk ... =firefox-a
Here’s the wrinkle version: during the festival, the traffic creates grid-lock. Getting into the city can take hours. My advice is to either be in the city for the festival or stay out. But don’t plan on going back and forth unless sitting in a car is your idea of fun. Everglades City has a population of 600. They say that 50,000 attend the seafood festival each year.
Here’s the opportunity version: those of us who will be staying in EC or Chokoloskee will be there before the crowds descend. In fact, if some of you campers want to, you can set up camp at the house I’m staying at during the festival. I don’t think I could accommodate 20 people, but half that might be possible. Let me know if you’re interested. Plan on bringing a folding chair or two so you can eat seafood and watch the world go by.
What’s in store for us:
Good paddling, fishing, birding
Plenty of nearby parks and swamps to visit
A museum or two and other local attractions
One of the best seafood festivals in south Florida
Disclaimer: this info is based on my experience and research. I assume there are flaws and some things that are probably out of date – especially in light of Wilma. If you have more current / correct information or opinions, please set the record straight for the group. I won’t take offense.