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Paddle Caloosahatchee River, Great Calusa Blueway, Ft. Myers, kayak, canoe, FloridaPaddle Caloosahatchee River, Great Calusa Blueway, Ft. Myers, kayak, canoe, Florida

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Reported: Jan. 2017

Caloosahatchee River... A Florida West Coast Treasure Restored

The Caloosahatchee River runs from the Gulf of Mexico near Ft. Myers to the Okeechobee Canal at Moore Haven. The river from its mouth to Alva comprise a portion of the Great Calusa Blueway. Wide closer to the Gulf and Ft. Myers, it narrows past I-75 in Ft. Myers where the better paddling starts. The river can be busy with powerboats - while the river can be paddled, paddlers usually visit the side creeks and oxbows along the way. Popular side excursions include Orange River, Telegraph Creek, and Hickey Creek. We have not paddled here yet, but visited some launches for future planning. We present this information for those who are interested. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: About 33 miles from mouth of the river to Alva; 67 miles total to Lake Okeechobee
Location: Lee and Hendry Counties
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: Partial, as it approaches the Gulf
Launch points: Manatee Park, W.P. Franklin Lock campground, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva Boat Ramp (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Ft. Myers, Alva (links, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Sanibel and Captiva Islands

The Caloosahatchee River was dredged and straightened (and unceremoniously named C-43), with dams and locks added, as part of the Okeechobee Waterway initiative from the 1930s-50s. Today, efforts to improve and restore the river are underway. Oxbows are remnants of the original course, and are popular for paddling off the main channel. An interesting video broadcast in 2007 on PBS Earth Edition looks at the Caloosahatchee, its history, channelization, and efforts at resuscitation.

Launches on Caloosahatchee River
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
W.P. Franklin Lock Campground
Nice launch, easy on and off. About 1.5 miles to Hickey Creek, 1 mile to Telegraph Creek.
This is an area we will plan to paddle.
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Boat ramp Caloosahatchee River at Franklin Dam and Lock Franklin Dam and Lock
Caloosahatchee Regional Park
We didn't visit the actual launch, down a path with wheels/cart needed.
Because of that, we probably would not launch here on a day trip, but rather
recommend as a landing along the river or for camping.
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Park entrance Park trail Parking Picnic, facilities
Alva Boat Ramp
Easy on and off, directly across from the launch is an oxbow and Bedman Creek.
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Alva boat ramp River, upstream toward the oxbow and Bedman Creek River, downstream Parking area
Caloosahatchee River at Ft. Myers
Ft. Myers is doing a great job rehabilitating its River District with shops, restaurants and  entertainment, incorporating the Caloosahatchee River into its vision.
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Caloosahatchee River at River District River District - day and night views

See more about the Great Calusa Blueway

More information on paddling at Caloosahatchee River (opens in a new window):

- Ft. Myers Visitor & Convention Bureau - Caloosahatchee River

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