Saturday, February 2, 2013

Launching our kayaks from the W. P. Franklin Corps of Engineer park

February 1, 2013
North Fort Myers
Seminole Campground

Last year we discovered a lovely Corps of Engineer park, W.P Franklin Campground, about ten miles from where we are staying in North Fort Myers. With the national parks senior pass, it would only cost $12 a night to camp here with water and electric hook-ups, but this 30-site park is extremely popular in the winter so the main campers are ones who probably reserved a site for a maximum of 14 days at least six months ahead.

We remembered that this park,which is built on a small peninsula next to a set of locks on the Caloosahatchee River, is a popular place for boating so we thought it would be a good place to explore by kayak. This stretch of the river is part of the Great Calusa Blueway, a 190-mile paddling trail through the coastal waters and inland tributaries of Lee County, Florida. This 67 mile long river was once used by the Calusa Indians as a major means of transportation between the Gulf and Lake Okeechobee in the years between 500 and 1700. Today the river plays a critical role in maintaining the South Florida watershed and the ecological restoration of the Everglades.

Find other facilities on map

We headed out for a two or three hour kayak on a sunny and slightly windy afternoon with temperatures in the mid-70s. As we were launching the kayaks another boater who was just coming in told us that there were two oxbows just a short ways up the river that might be fun to explore and be a little more protected from the wind.  They turned out to be perfect for our maiden voyage on the Caloosahatchee. 

Most of the riverbank was filled with lily pads which I thought would be an ideal resting place for the alligators we were told we would see, but we never did see any.  We especially enjoyed seeing the lush vegetation of ferns, palms, and live oaks dripping with moss and the surprisingly big homes that sparsely populated this part of the river.

We did see a few birds along the way, but I had hoped to see more variety. I missed getting shots of a Belted Kingfisher and a Common Moorhen as it is not as easy as it looks to take long distance photos of still birds from a moving kayak.

The best part of this excursion was being out on the water on a beautiful day and seeing this tropical rural setting from this vantage point. It was quite peaceful in the backwaters of the oxbows and only a little more populated with homes and boats in the main part of the river. 

As we were loading the kayaks back on the Jeep, we met a couple who kayaks in this area quite frequently. They shared their favorite places with us while I took detailed notes on my phone. We are sure looking forward to trying out their recommendations and thankful we have the next two months to get to know the waterways of the Fort Myers area. Ciao!


  1. Just beautiful....loved your pictures. The water looks so peaceful and I love the birds!
    Have a great week....enjoy!

  2. Hi, I'm Tammy &d new to your blog. Looks like a gorgeous place you are staying at. I love sites on the water. April 1st we will be fulltimers also. We semi started last summer making this a dream and then my husband retired from the USPS in July. I also started a blog entitled It's Good to Be Us at Hope you stop by and visit. Looking forward to becoming more acquainted.

  3. Looking forward to hearing about more kayaking places! Wish we could get in there...we've tried...Did you happen to notice if there were big rigs in the campground? We were wondering if they had big enough sites for a 40 footer...


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