Go canoe camping on the Suwannee River


person canoeing on river

Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

Thomas here. I’m a reporter at Axios Atlanta, dropping by to sing the praises of the Suwannee River Wilderness State Trail during National Camping Month.

Why it matters: The wild and picturesque river is lined with exposed limestone banks, haunting cypress swamps and nearly 200 springs that are ideal for swimming, picnicking, and responsible imbibing.

  • Plus, the paddle-up river camps along the way are textbook examples of wise investment in outdoor recreation that will impress newbies and experts alike.

Catch up quick: The spring-fed, black water river starts at the Okefenokee Swamp in south Georgia and snakes roughly 266 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.

  • The shores are dotted with river shacks and cabins, the occasional million-dollar home, and public and private river camps where you can hop out and spend the day or the night.

The mood: Super mellow. I keep telling myself the Suwannee is the J.J. Cale of rivers.

Details: The past two visits we’ve put in at Dowling Park and taken out at or around Troy Springs State Park.

  • Every day we’d paddle for roughly 10 miles to public campsites built just for people using canoes or kayaks.
  • They’re packed with amenities like screened-in camping platforms with ceiling fans, hammock hooks and power and water spigots. Camp bathrooms are clean and have warm showers.

Of note: The camping platforms are available on a first-come basis, according to Florida State Parks. However, we and other paddlers could reserve them on the website for about the price of a very complicated latte at Starbucks.

  • The river grows wider after Troy Spring State Park, meaning you’ll see more jet skis and bigger and faster boats — some of which do not care if you’re paddling in a canoe sensitive to wakes and waves.

How to go: Bring your own gear or call an expert. Florida State Parks maintains a list of several outfitters that service paddlers along the river.


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