How to Canoe on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs, Florida

How to Canoe on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs, Florida
Though many think of the southwest coast of Florida as a place to go for fun in the sand and opportunities for great shelling, there is a whole wealth of other opportunities to experience. The Imperial River is one of southwest Florida's natural treasures. Though it is a relatively short river, it offers a large amount of biodiversity as it quickly moves from salt to fresh water.


Difficulty: Moderate


Things You’ll Need:
  • Canoe Sunscreen Insect repellent Paddles
  • Canoe
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Paddles
Step 1
Secure access to a canoe. For those who live close the river, transporting their own canoe may be a better idea. Few from out of the state will want to haul their own canoe down. For those individuals, there are a couple of outfitters in the area and one even offers delivery to the river (see Resources below).
Step 2
Notify individuals close to you about your plans and when you plan to be back at your home or hotel room. Though most trips on the Imperial River go just fine, there is always the chance something bad could happen. As is a good rule when boating anywhere, always inform someone what is going on so they can check up on you later.
Step 3
Do not forget essential supplies. A canoe trip in the southern portions of The Sunshine State can be a great adventure. Unlike some canoe trips you may have been on in your home state, canoeing in Florida requires a substantial amount of insect repellent and sunscreen. Both should be on board by the time you leave.

The Trip

Step 1
Choose the right time to go. While this may seem like an obvious step, choosing a good time is a critical part of the decision. Those who do not heed Florida weather patterns may find their trip to be very miserable, dangerous or simply canceled altogether. The best chance to see animals, especially on land, is probably during the early morning or later afternoon hours.
Step 2
Launch the canoe. Look for a good spot to launch the canoe. Though there may be several possibilities, a public ramp located at 27551 South Tamiami Trail may be your best bet. Riverside Park, located near the point where the Imperial River crosses Old 41 Road, may also be a possibility.
Step 3
Explore beyond the suburbs. Florida is full of urban sprawl, even along some of the blackwater rivers in the state. However, venturing deeper into the woods is a good way to experience Florida's natural side, that part of Florida that existed long before theme parks and snow birds. The Imperial River's length makes it an excellent choice for more rural discoveries.
Step 4
Take note of wildlife. While this is a main reason to go canoeing, it is one many people may forget. The wild animals you come across are generally harmless, even the American alligator. Still, take no chances and always keep your eyes out for animals that may be encroaching on your space.
Step 5
Return when it is still daylight. While you may be tempted to squeeze out as much daylight as possible during your trip, remember that canoes are seldom equipped with lights, and parts of the Imperial River, especially those near the coast, do receive a significant amount of motorized boat traffic.

Tips & Warnings

The coolest part of the day is the early morning hours.
Be careful about canoeing in the afternoons during the summer, as this is when Florida thunderstorms pop up regularly.

Article Written By Kenneth Black

Kenneth Black has been a freelance writer since 2008. He currently works as a staff writer for "The Times Republican" in Central Iowa. He has written extensively on a variety of topics, including business, politics, family life and travel. Black holds a bachelor's degree in business marketing from the University of Phoenix.

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