The southern wetlands and swampy terrains are the perfect place to take refuge from the high-speed whitewater rivers throughout the country. Take a minute to slow down the pace, enjoy some (hopefully!) warmer weather, and take in a different scenery. Put your feet up and enjoy these 5 scenic waterways for your next adventure!
1) The Florida Everglades – Florida
As far south as you can get, the Florida Everglades take up a whopping 1.5-million acres on the southern tip of the state. This slow-moving water is home to hundreds of species of animals and plant-life, so be prepared to see something new at every turn. This area is home to coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine flatwoods. Keep an extra special eye out for alligator who are common in these parts. From crocodiles to those little buggers such as mosquitoes, the south is notorious for some interesting and obnoxious flying insects. Don’t forget the bug spray and head out for a day, or a week, so much swamp to see.
2) Okefenokee Swamp – Georgia
Ever been on a trip where ‘keeping your elbows away from the water’ was the number one rule of the river? Welcome to the Okefenokee Swamp in down South Georgia. A stride away from the whitewater you may be used too, the beauty in this area will stun you in this peat-filled wetland straddling the Georgia–Florida line. Scoop up a guide to show you around the twists and turns as it can be very easy to get lost in these waterways. While the bugs are one hazard to look out for, always be on guard for the alligators that roam this territory. From feeding frenzies to solo hunters lurking in the shallow water, this is not the place to jump in for a dip!
3) Ocala National Forest – Florida
Ocala National Forest, just north of Orlando is the perfect place for a quiet trip and to see the world’s largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest. Paddle into this area for a solo kayaking trip to take in all there is to see. With camping locations spread throughout the area along with primitive spots for those that want to get away from the crowds, the options vary for the individual explorer. Take a break from the sun and dip in the local cool springs! With a constant temperature of 72 degrees year around, the forest’s springs are magnets for people in summer and manatees in winter.
4) Sparkleberry Swamp – South Carolina
Sounds like something from Super Troopers, right? Close! The name Sparkleberry actually comes from the Sparkleberry Tree which is abundant in the area. The Sparkleberry is a shrub or small crooked tree that grows in the deciduous woods. This swamp is located on upper Lake Marion. The area maintains a high-water level for most of the year which makes this the perfect destinations for many avid paddlers. Be on the lookout for herons, ducks, egrets and other bird life along the way.
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5) Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park – Florida
This area is one of the last remaining undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Talk about a hidden gem! When you picture your perfect beach it likely looks like one you can find here: unspoiled, plenty of room to spread out on the sand, and clear, warm water for swimming, fishing and kayaking. Get out with your kayak to experience the vast bird life that inhabits this area. PS – don’t forget some sunscreen, bug spray, and your trusty Watershed Drybag to store everything in! The Big Creek Bag is a good option that includes a zip dry seal to ensure your belongings stay dry, shoulder straps to carry everything easily, and even a durable top handle.
Enjoy the gems of the South and stay dry!