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Manatee River in Florida

Trip Overview

My Dad and I took a trip today on the Manatee River. The river flows from the Gulf of Mexico to the Lake Manatee Dam and then on towards the center of Florida. We have been kayaking many times at the wide part of the river but not where we went today.

We dropped in at the Rye Wilderness State Park Canoe Drop-in. There is no fee. At the drop-in you can find many people fishing a playing in the river. Here the river is only about 30-40 feet wide. You can go East or West. Towards the East you can cross under a bridge (Rye Road) and head a couple of miles to the Lake Manatee Dam. If you head west, the way we went, you can go all the way to the Gulf.

We drooped in and went to the West. The river stays about 30-40 feet wide most of the way. You can see manatees, fish, alligators, and lots of birds. There are a few creeks off the river that you can go into. We went about .8 miles (I think) to the West on the river. From there the river splits. Here you can go left or right. If you go left (use to be the river), you will go past Camp Flying Eagle. CFE is a Boy Scout Camp. You can see some activity going on some days. This part of the river circles around back to where the river split. If you go to the right, a cut the river made through, you can continue west. Here at the river split, there is a place like a small beach that you can pull up on the East side.

If you keep going to the west you will find a place called Rays Canoes. You can rent from them if you need too. I dont know much about them.

We went from the Rye Wilderness Drop-in, around the river split and back in about an hour and a half. Very nice river. Not many boats, lots of canoes and some kayaks. I recommend it to any one.


You can camp at the State Park there, there are bathrooms, a playground, and a volleyball court. No electric or water at campsites that I know of. Also if you are going with you troop or a youth group, you can stay at Camp Flying Eagle. They have canoes for rent and a drop-in.


No Fees at the Canoe Drop In. But a fee to stay at the camp sites.


From Bradenton-

Take SR64 (Manatee Ave.) East to Upper Manatee River Rd. Turn North (left). Go till the road is about to end and look for the Rye Wilderness State Park Canoe Drop-in. Turn into it and go down road. If you wish to camp at Rye, you continue down Upper Manatee River Rd. to Rye Road and turn left, go about .2 miles. Turn Right into it.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip