Here are just a few of the many itineraries for the wilderness waterway trip from Everglades City to Flamingo. One trip is going along the beaches and one trip is in the backcountry. This can be adapted to a longer or shorter trip, or can be varied between the beach area and the backcountry. The beach trip is much more dependent upon winds and tides. All of these sites are dependent on availability. The Everglades National Park Service regulates the permit system, and for additional questions, you can call them at 305-242-7700. One can acquire a permit by going to the ranger station in Everglades City or Flamingo, in person, no more than 24 hours before entering the water. The following are example itineraries, but are all dependent upon site availability through Everglades National Park.
Nine Day Beach Trip
Day 1: Enter Turner River (paddle through narrow mangrove tunnels, fresh water to brackish ecosystem), Camp on Rabbit Key (saltwater ecosystem). Approximately 11 miles from Hwy 41 at Turner River, 9 miles if leaving from Everglades City, 6 miles if leaving from Chokoloskee.
Day 2: Camp at Pavilion Key. Approximately 4 miles.
Day 3: Camp on New Turkey Key. Approximately 6.5 miles.
Day 4: Camp at Highland Beach. Approximately 11.5 miles.
Day 5: Stay at Highland Beach for a second night.
Day 6: Camp at Graveyard Creek, which is a ground site (this is sometimes very buggy). Approximately 7 miles.
Day 7: Camp at Oyster Bay Chickee. Approximately 10 miles.
Day 8: Camp on South Joe Chickee. Approximately 10.5 miles.
Day 9: Out at Flamingo. Approximately 11.5 miles.
A Five Day Itinerary
Day 1: Begin on the Turner River paddling through narrow tunnels in the fresh water environment. Turn East down Huddles Creek across Mud Bay, Cross Bays and South at the second Cross Bay to Lopez River Campsite. Lopez is a ground site. Turner River at Hwy 41 to Lopez is approximately 10 miles. Turner River at Hwy 41 to Sunday Bay is approximately 13.5 miles.
Day 2: Paddle across Sunday Bay, Oyster Bay, Huston Bay, and the Last Huston Bay to Sweetwater Chickee (an elevated wood platform over the water). The word Chickee is a Calusa word meaning a house with no walls. Alligators and a variety of birds are often seen in this area. This is approximately 11.5 miles from Lopez and 9 miles from Sunday Bay.
Day 3: Leave Sweetwater Chickee and paddle South down the Chatham River and pass by the Watson's Place. Camp on Mormon Key. This beach is great for sea shelling, you can bring home one quart per person. One can also find Calusa pottery, but it cannot be collected. You can also have campfires on the beach sites. Sweetwater to Mormon is about 7.5 miles.
Day 4: Leave Mormon Key and stop at Pavillion, which is a long white sandy beach. Paddle to Rabbit Key, another area to sea shell, look for dolphins, watch shore birds and possibly have a campfire in the evening. This is where Ed Watson was buried. Mormon Key to Rabbit is about 8.5 miles.
Day 5: After leaving Rabbit Key stop at Jewel Key to look for Mangrove Tree Snails, and this will be your last chance for collecting sea shells. Return up Sand Fly Pass, passing Sand Fly Island, an area where people had lived in recent history. You may wish to stop and take a hike. Follow the markers in, go under the bridge and return to Everglades City. Rabbit to Everglades City is about 9 miles.