Imperial River

Bonita Springs, FL – November, 2016 Just a mile from our winter campground is Riverside Park, the highlight of which is the Imperial River. It’s a great place to wander or ride a bike. I can’t believe it took us almost 2 months to get around to kayaking this river. We chose to float it on Black Friday, preferring the solitude of the water to the craziness of the retail scene.

The put-in is in the far left in this photo. It is right beside a pedestrian bridge to a large island.

We had visited the park a half dozen times and hadn’t noticed much of a current, so our plan was to paddle up river and float or paddle back. But once on the river we realized that at this particular time at least, there was no discernable current, so we chose to paddle toward the gulf and take our chances that the paddle upstream wouldn’t be too difficult.

After you leave the borders of the city park the banks of the river are all privately owned and often lined with houses and docks. But there is still plenty of nature to witness, like this amazing tree with an intricate pattern of roots around its trunk.

We saw plenty of birds.

And here everyone seems to want to get in the pic, from the bird statues in the upper right to the turtle poking his head up above the log.

I saw one duck and when I went to investigate I found the whole family patiently waiting for their photo op.

It was the lizards that really stole the show. Jim noticed this monster on a dock. He was HUGE, at least 5 feet from tip to tail and he was incredibly colorful.

I managed to get a few shots of him before he moseyed to the other end of the dock and out of sight.

Directly across the river was this little (in comparison) bright green fellow.

The only downside to floating through neighborhoods is the complete lack of places to stop and take a break. After about an hour and a mile and a half of paddling we decided to turn around. It was a good decision as the wind was picking up and could have made it harder to paddle back later in the afternoon.

We talked to a resident working on his boat and he told us the tides do affect the water level in this area. He said the only time you see much of a current though is when strong winds blow the water out of the bay at the end and the water empties from the river to fill it or when the wind blows water into the bay and it backs up into the river.

On the way back Jim passed within a few feet of this lizard without noticing him.

And we only saw this one because we heard the rustle of palm fronds and looked up. He was way up there and really moving.

There were kids jumping off the docks just upstream of the take out. You wouldn’t catch me swimming in this water. There are way too many alligators in these parts! Of course, the boys were fearless and daring each other to do more complicated flips into the water.

We are looking forward to floating this river again and again.