If you get the chance to paddle the Alligator River, do it!

A  portion of the Alligator River runs through the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, a 152,000 acre natural wonder. The Refuge is home to bogs, fresh and brackish water marshes, hardwood swamps, and Atlantic white cypress swamps.  It is also home to the American black bear, ducks, geese, raptors, white-tailed deer, raccoons, and of course, alligators.

Paddling the Alligator River

Tested Travel had the opportunity to spend a morning paddling the Alligator River. The US Fish and Wildlife Service offers (for a fee) canoe tours of the Alligator River.  They supply canoes and life preservers.

We were fortunate to be accompanied by two interns who were working for the Service during the summer.  They had lots of knowledge about the flora and fauna of the Refuge and pointed out woodpecker habitats, unique and invasive species of plants, as well as the occasional alligator. They also told us about the land-use history of the area -- from native peoples to the logging boom to the modern-day Refuge. The 3-hour adventure was a wonderful way to experience this special place.

Read more about the Alligator River tour here.