To celebrate the National Park Service centennial, Florida’s 11 national parks are holding a 100-mile paddle challenge over the course of 2016.
The challenge is a way to highlight the diversity of Florida’s national parks, which include both sandy beaches and grassy waters, with an array of different activities for visitors. The challenge will begin 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, at the Biscayne National Park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center.
“With 2016 being the centennial of the National Parks Service, 100 miles draws attention to our 100th birthday, but also it really helps us focus on our connectedness to the other national parks,” said Gary Bremen, park ranger at Biscayne National Park.
The beginning of the 100-mile paddle challenge also includes a ribbon cutting — in the water — and a brief ceremony and photos. For those who are just learning how to paddle, ranger-guided paddle lessons are available.
Participants can log miles by paddling canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. To complete the challenge, participants must paddle in at least three of the 11 parks, with selfies as evidence, and log a cumulative total of 100 miles. Selfies can be posted on social media with the hashtag #FLNPS100PaddleChallenge.
Those who complete the challenge can present their log and selfies at any park visitor center to receive a commemorative patch.
Biscayne National Park is one of Florida’s 11 national parks, all of which are participating in the challenge. Other parks include Big Cypress, Canaveral, Castillo De San Marcos, De Soto, Dry Tortugas, Everglades, Fort Carolina, Fort Matanzas, Gulf Islands and Timucuan.
“By connecting ourselves with [all the Florida parks] through this challenge, we help [visitors] connect to the parks that belong to them,” Bremen said.
If you go
▪ What: Start of the Florida National Parks Service’s 100-mile challenge.
▪ Where: Biscayne National Park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center, 9700 SW 328th St.
▪ When: Challenge begins 10 a.m. Saturday.
▪ Cost: Free of charge.