Great Calusa Blueway Royal Spring along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble Florida Keys Challenge Ochlockonee River Suwannee River Paddling Festival Ocklockonee Bay Manatees off the St. Johns River Estero River on the Great Calusa Blueway Florida Keys Challenge Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Florida Keys Challenge Calusa trip leaders conferring on the route

Paddle Florida: Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure. Paddle Florida, ,

, Paddle Florida: Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure.

, Paddle Florida: Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure.

Paddle Florida:
Inspiring. Meaningful. Adventure.

Paddle Florida, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation organized to support canoeing and kayaking in Florida. Supported, multi-day paddling/camping adventures in each of Florida's five water management districts showcase the state's natural beauty and rich cultural heritage while promoting water conservation, wildlife preservation, springs restoration, and waterways protection. Paddle Florida also seeks to promote Florida as an international destination for nature-based tourism.

Our 2016-17 Paddling Season:
October 17-24, 2016: Suwannee River Wilderness Trail
December 2-6, 2016: Ocklawaha Odyssey
January 9-15, 2017: Florida Keys Challenge
February 11-17, 2017: The Great Calusa Blueway
March 11-17, 2017: Dam to the Bay on the Ochlockonee
April 7-9, 2017: Suwannee River Paddling Festival

Paddle Florida scouts trips in advance to ensure waterway conditions and shoreline campsites are safe, comfortable, and showcase nature's best view. Meal plans and gear shuttling eliminate the need to weigh down boats with food and camping equipment. Florida-based entertainment and educational programming is provided each evening by regional artists, musicians, authors, and naturalists. Partnerships with local outfitters provide paddlers with canoes, kayaks, and other paddling gear to rent as needed. With this level of support, paddlers of all ages and skill levels can explore and enjoy the REAL Florida!

Take a peek at one of our most popular paddling adventures in the Florida Keys....

Paddle Florida is proud to be Silver Level certified by the Florida Society for
Ethical Ecotourism.  Florida SEE encourages awareness and stewardship of Florida's natural and cultural heritage by endorsing compliance with federal, state, and local laws, providing environmental education, and promoting professionalism and integrity. 

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Archived Happy Paddler newsletters:

December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
Archived Happy Paddler Newsletters

Paddle Florida, Inc.
P.O. Box 5953
1710 SW 35th Place, Unit C
Gainesville, FL 32608

Board of Directors:
Nickie Kortus, President
Mary Jane Angelo, Vice President
Robert Hutchinson, Secretary
Debra Akin, Treasurer
Lars Andersen, Board Member

Tax Return & 990 Documents:
990 2015 Tax Return

Refund Policy:
Due to the financial outlay and costs incurred by Paddle Florida during event planning, any force majeure, which includes but is not limited to water levels, inclement weather and any other Acts of God not mentioned herein, shall not result in the refund of any fees paid to Paddle Florida. Absolutely no fees will be refunded after 15 days before the event begins. Any fees refunded by Paddle Florida will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Paul & Cleo Fogal ~ January 2017

(12/19/2016) Where are you from?  Your professions?  We live in Jim Thorpe, PA. Paul is the founder and president of Pocono Whitewater Rafting. Cleo owns PW photos, which does the promotional and souvenir photos for the rafters, as well as various other projects.   When and how did you become interested in paddling? Paul got interested in paddling as a teenager doing canoe trips around New Jersey. Cleo became interested in paddling after meeting Paul on a ski lift in the Poconos.     Where is your favorite place to paddle? The Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Paul has done expeditions there nine times, and Cleo eight. We have paddled on all seven continents, and the Grand Canyon is the most consistently spectacular.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  That would have to be the time on the Omo River in Ethiopia when we were attacked by a hippopotamus. It was a hot day and the water was low. Three of us were taking turns rowing a 14-foot raft. The raft seemed like it ran up on a rock in the middle of the river, but suddenly the rock rose in the water, and we realized we'd rowed over the top of a hippo that was coming up for a breath The hippo turned its head over its shoulder and took one giant bite, which went through the top of the outside tube, and the floor of the raft, narrowly missing our legs. Luckily the hippo didn't like the taste of the raft, and didn't hang around. We were able to get the raft over to a campsite and had enough raft patch material with us to repair the damage and continue our 30-day trip.   How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  We've done two Paddle Florida trips: the Great Calusa Blueway in February and the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail in October of 2016.   Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  Our most memorable moment from a Paddle Florida trip would be towards the end of the Suwannee. I'd had several conversations with Floridian paddlers who told me the terrain wasn't right for gators, and as long as you stayed out of the water at dusk it was safe to swim. I was paddling in the front of our canoe, the water was exceptionally clear, and I was watching for turtles or fish, or whatever might be in the water. I wasn't seeing much, until suddenly, without making a sound, a gator that was bigger than our canoe crossed the river directly under us. Thank God the river was deep enough for both of us!   What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? We would tell anyone considering a Paddle Florida trip to go! You'll see a side of Florida that the majority of the world doesn't see, and you'll have a chance to hang out with some interesting people and hear some great stories.

Charlie Para ~ December 2016

(11/30/2016) Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)? I am from Jacksonville, Florida. I am a retired engineer for the local electric, water and sewer utility. When and how did you become interested in paddling?   I am mainly a sailor.  I bought a foldable kayak for a trip to play with and because it would fit on my sailboat.  It turned out that I enjoyed paddling around. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I like to explore around small islands and paddle out to a reef to do some snorkeling. So far, it has always been possible, if not graceful, getting back into the kayak from deep water. What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  In the Bahamas, there is an island with wild pigs that swim out to meet you as you paddle by.  They are pretty big, not cute, and fairly insistent that get their toll of cabbage or an apple.  Fortunately, I was able to paddle faster than they could swim. How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  I have been on the Suwanee River Wilderness Trail and the Dam to the Bay on the Ochlockonee River - both this year. Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  Watching my brother and some friends trying to put up a giant, leaking, borrowed tent in the rain on the last day of the Ochlockonee trip.  They provided everyone with pre-dinner entertainment and ended up with about five tarps over the top looking very shanty-esque. What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?   Practice with your tent, bring or rent a kayak, and go.  Paddle Florida takes care of everything else.  The food, entertainment, camaraderie and paddling are all great.

Bruce & Bunny Ryba ~ November 2016

(11/01/2016) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I’m originally from Missouri and am currently employed as a Fiber Optic Specialist at Kennedy Space Center.  Bunny is originally from Cranbury, New Jersey and is CEO of Space Coast Applications. We live in Cocoa, Florida.   When and how did you become interested in paddling? Both of us have always been fairly addicted to fishing, diving, and wind surfing and, in the early 90’s, we began canoeing in the Kennedy Space Center “No Motor Zone”— an 8,000-acre manatee preserve in the Banana River. After about 20 years of incredible fishing, we retired the canoe and progressed to fishing kayaks.   Around 2008, my brother in Missouri sent an article about the “world’s longest non-stop kayak canoe race.” The MR340 is a 340-mile race down the Missouri River from Kansas City to just upstream of St. Louis, with an 88-hour time limit. We were hooked! The race led us to upgrade our fishing kayaks to expedition kayaks, learn some basics, then enter and complete three MR340 races, and finally to the Paddle Florida adventures.   Where is your favorite place to paddle? Bruce: My favorite place to paddle is still the Banana River No Motor Zone adjacent to Kennedy Space Center. World class fishing, abundant wildlife, a “crowded day” is a dozen kayaks or canoes. The No Motor Zone also presents the occasional paddling opportunities to view night rocket launches and in the summer nightly exhibitions of bioluminescence.  Bunny: The San Juan Islands come to mind.  Closer to home, Blue Springs State Park west of Orange City. I love to kayak the spring run and Hontoon Island, and then take a refreshing PFD float down the spring run.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  Bruce: That’s a toss-up between two different kayak races. First was a 20-mile race on the Indian River just as Hurricane Sandy was off shore. During the race, a 30+ mph wind gust at the wrong moment flipped me over and, despite the two foot high wind driven waves, I was back in the kayak seat in less than 30 seconds. Shaken, no longer having fun, but at least paddling and I finished the race.  The other event was a lightning show at night during one of the MR340 races. A summer storm swept in from the Great Plains and lightning flashes illuminated the tall Missouri River cliffs while coyotes yipped on the river bank.  It was a treasured light and sound demonstration of Ma Nature. Bunny: I guess that would be once when paddling around Hontoon Island. I floated over a sleeping manatee and the animal panicked, lifting my boat completely out of the water and cracking the glass on the kayak. I stayed upright in a sort of “manatee rodeo” that I do not wish to repeat.   How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  The Peace and Suwannee River trips.   Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight? Bruce: Fossil hunting in the Peace River. Bunny: Relaxing in Madison Blue Springs.   What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? Consider the value of enjoying days on the river without the stress of planning meals, shopping, transporting food, ice, meal preparation, and clean-up. Our advice is “Don’t hesitate to sign up!”  

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