On a recent kayak tour, one of my guests described the Turner River as being “a special place, a spiritual place.” After he said this I stopped for a moment to reflect on his words, coming to realize that they were all at once simplistic yet entirely accurate. The Turner River is a mystifying, awe-inspiring, once in a lifetime place. Its natural wonders reflect quiet beauty that both energizes and soothes. Its cool clear waters drift effortlessly along, carrying away worries and troubles. It truly is a spiritual place.
It should come as no surprise then, that the Turner is one of the most highly esteemed kayaking destinations not only in Florida, but in the United States. Each year it draws thousands of people who wish to experience its beauty and mystery. Here at Shurr Adventures, we are fortunate enough to be able to take guests kayaking on the Turner River almost every day from October until March.
On a typical Turner trip we will start our paddle heading north toward the headwaters. Here, we will paddle on the smooth clear water past tall grasses and palm trees until we reach an ancient cypress forest. Within this forest lie trees that belong to the most ancient lineage of trees still left on earth today, relatives of the sequoias and redwoods. Paddling on, we will reach the headwaters of the Turner River where we will search for alligators, turtles, and birds. Common bird sightings include the Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Anhinga, Cormorant, Ibis, Common Moorhen, Pied-billed Grebe, several species of Warblers, Cat Birds and many more. After reaching the headwaters, we will head south toward brackish water and mangroves. The south side of the river is narrow and winding, giving paddlers the distinct feeling that they are in the heart of the true Everglades. The meandering grasslands will eventually give way to mangrove forest (the second largest in the world), and once here we will finish our adventure by snaking our way through intricate mangrove tunnels, using branches to pull ourselves along in a manner that would make Tarzan proud.
The Turner River is home to not only an astonishing assortment of animal life, but also to a vibrant plant community and an incredible diversity of ecosystems, all in one package. It represents not only the “real” Everglades experience, but also the unbelievable variety of life that makes the Glades so amazing. And so it is for this reason that the Turner River truly is a spiritual place.