Canoe Outpost Peace River

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Below are some of the more frequently asked questions we get at Canoe Outpost-Peace River. Don't see your question on the list? Call us at (800) 268-0083 and ask!

Which way does the river flow?

The river flows from north to south, from the Green Swamp/Lake Hancock north of Lakeland to Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf, about 120 miles. Bartow to Arcadia is the State Designated Paddle Trail (70 miles).

How fast is the current?

Depends on water level, normally though only 1-2 miles per hour. At 3' above normal it is about 2 mph per FWC.

What is the best time of year to go?

February, March, April, May, June, October, and November are the most popular times to paddle the Peace River (Spring & Fall). The temperatures are usually moderate and the water levels are fine. This is the most popular paddle trail in the state of Florida so weekends during the busy seasons are, well, busy. Weekdays are a great time to go; hardly anyone is on the river. The majority of our paddlers are in-state residents, taking the family and friends out for a fun time. We don't see a lot of Snowbirds on the river.

What is the water level?

Go to Peace River Water Conditions. When we say the river is at a certain level, we base it on the height of our floating dock in relation to our stationary dock. At normal, the floating dock is flush with the bottom step of the dock. After over 45 years of observation, we have established this as the "normal" or mean water level most of the year. Any variation will be noted as above or below normal. Average depth of the river at normal conditions is 24", some spots will be 6" deep, some 20' deep. The bottom of the river varies. Most of the time you can see the bottom at normal conditions.

Why can't we go to Zolfo Springs when the water is high or low?

Canoe Outpost will not put canoes out north of Gardner when the water is high because all the camping areas are under water and any available camping will be above the mean high water mark and you will be trespassing if you camp out. Also this section, because of the narrowness, coming down the river gets tricky. We don't put in at Zolfo Springs when the water is too low either because we want everyone to have a good time and when the water level gets to 24" or lower, the complaints about walking rise astronomically. To check the water level, see above link. That page also lists any restrictions.

What is the water clarity?

This is blackwater, tea-colored water turned dark from the tannic acids from the leaves of trees. When the water is below normal, you can usually see the bottom. Rain means silt so the water gets cloudy.

Is the river fresh or salt water?

Most of the Peace River is freshwater. To the south (Ft. Ogden) it gets brackish. The canoeing is done in the freshwater sections. You will see fresh and saltwater fish and animals in the river.

Are boats allowed on the river?

Yes, though most of the time the river is too shallow to allow boats north of Arcadia.

Is it safe?

We can't guarantee your safety as water sports and being outdoors have inherent dangers but if you follow safety rules, use common sense, and follow the law there should be no problems.

What kind of fish are in the river and can you fish?

All freshwater species such as bass, bream, and catfish are in the river. You will also see snook, mullet, blue crabs, and tarpon even though the water is fresh. A freshwater license is required as per law and you'd better have a saltwater license and/or stamps if catching saltwater species. In high water, use a light colored lure, in low water use a dark colored lure.

What will I see on the river?

If you're quiet and it's not real busy on the river, you'll see deer, fox, alligators, turtles, otters, turkeys, cows, horses, llamas (south of Brownville Bridge), all kinds of fish, all kinds of birds, maybe snakes, typical Florida wildlife. Watch for the llamas on the right side south of the Brownville Bridge. Don't try to catch or pet any of the creatures or critters you encounter, they may not be friendly. At Oak Hill, watch for the wild weiner dogs. On busy weekends you'll see all kinds of wildlife, the two-legged type! Go to to learn about Florida critters.

Are there alligators?

Are you in Florida? Seriously, almost every body of water in Florida has gators. Stay away from them, don't feed them, and don't harass them. The gators in the Peace River are wild and usually afraid of people. We have never had a problem with them. Alligator mating season is usually May through October. Don't try to mate with one, they don't like it. More gator info at:

How do we get back to our vehicle?

We take you upriver by bus and drop you off. You paddle downstream back to your vehicle. All our standard trips end back at your vehicle.

Can we swim?

Swimming in the Peace River is fine. Look around first for gators. Wade into the river. Do not dive or jump, as it is hard to see in the darker water. People swim all the time in the river.

Who owns the property along the river?

Most of the property on the Peace River is privately owned so you must stay down by the water. No hiking is permitted except in designated areas owned by Canoe Outpost-Peace River or at public boat ramps and parks.

What should I bring?

Go to our day run or overnight hints pages for info. It's just like going to the beach, only you're in a canoe or kayak.

Can I bring a cooler?

Always bring plenty to drink, it can get hot out there, see above. Don't bring the big white coffin-like ones, they don't fit. The largest compartment is 28" x 31". Coolers, 80 qts. or larger, will not fit in the canoe. Please no Styrofoam. Please, no glass on the river. If you have to bring glass, take it home with you. We don't recycle glass.

Are alcoholic beverages allowed?

Yes, but please no glass and please drink responsibly.

Can we hunt along the river?

No hunting is allowed on the Peace River by those paddling, boating, or camping. Only the property owners have that right.

Can we have fires?

Small fires along the riverbank are permissible. They must be put out and buried when done. Use only existing firepits. Firewood is a limited commodity, especially at the more popular camping areas. Bring wood from home, buy it from us, or collect it as you come down the river.

Can I bring my dog?

Dogs are welcome but do be careful, alligators like dogs (especially the little yappers). Need to keep dogs on a leash.

How are the mosquitoes?

Friendly. Mosquito season is during the rainy season, usually July through September. Call to check on bug conditions. Usually some repellent will keep them under control. We don't get black clouds of them. While you're paddling during the day they are no problem. There may be some when you stop in spring and summer at dusk if camping out.

Where and how do I find fossils?

Fossils are found anywhere along the waters edge and the river bottom. Canoe Outpost has sifters for borrowing on a first-come, first-serve basis or bring your own. Anything with holes in it like a macaroni strainer will work. The water level needs to be at least 12" below normal. Fossils are usually black and shiny, some just look like rocks. Bring them back to the Outpost to compare with the pictures and fossils on display. Yes, you have to get out of the canoe and dig. The fossils are not just laying on the bottom or on the bank. Please don't ask us where the best fossil hunting spots are, we won't tell. We like to fossil hunt too. Click on Fossil Hunting for more info.

Are there restrooms along the way?

Once on the river there are no public facilities except at the boat ramps at Zolfo Springs and Brownville. Canoe Outpost offers restrooms for our customers at our faculties in Gardner, Oak Hill (portable toilets), and Arcadia. See the front desk for a handout on "How to wee-wee in the woods".

Will we see manatees?

Usually not, the river is too shallow and has a sandy, rocky bottom with little for the manatees to eat. We saw manatees at the dock in Arcadia in August, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011! They are usually only found on the southern stretches, miles south of Arcadia. Since 2008, a couple of manatees are frequently seen around and in the Lagoon. .

Will you hold the bus for us?

No, not if there are other folks already checked in and ready to go. It's not fair to make them wait if they got checked-in on time. We also set departure times based on the time the bus trip takes, so if you're late and we hold the bus, the next bus will be running late, and the whole schedule is shot. But if you're running late and no one else is checked-in, we can usually hold the bus for a short while or until it jeopardizes the on-time departure of the next run.

Where do we get our lifejackets, paddles, and/or cushions?

All the gear is already on the bus or at the put-in point. Extra gear rented, children's lifejackets, fitted lifejackets, and seatbacks are to be picked up at check-in. Every person must have a lifejacket in the canoe or kayak, boat cushions are optional. Each canoe gets two paddles. You don't have to wear the jackets yet, but soon in the future.

What's the weather going to do?

We don't predict the weather or the fishing.

Will I catch any fish?

See above

Where's the three-legged dog?

Ollie Dog, the three-legged wonder dog is gone and riding the river in doggie heaven. Fish on, Ollie Dog! (7/7/2010). We have Ziggy now. Ziggy is part Jack Russell, part Corgi (like Ollie) but with some pitbull thrown in, especially in the rear end. Ziggy is the ball thief and yapping squirrel chaser. 

Can I feed the squirrels?

It's fine to feed the squirrels by tossing food to them. Please don't hand feed them as they have razor sharp incisors and sometimes can't distinguish the end of a finger from a peanut.

Who answers the phone?

Diane and Jeorgia are our group coordinators and will usually answer the phone. However, once in a while Trent or Becky will also answer the phone. Christy is on the phone now too!

I have my own canoe/kayak: why can't I use your facilities for free, why won't you transport my boat for free, why can't I camp on your property for free, why can't I use your picnic area for free, why can't I ride your bus for free, why can't I use your dock for free, why can I use your lifejackets, cushions, and paddles for free or why can't I park for free?

There's no such thing as a free ride. Sorry gang, this is how we make our living. Insurance, payroll, taxes, fuel, electricity, insurance, water, vehicle upkeep, tires, road maintenance, insurance, lawn care etc. all cost money. Being with a group does not mean you get free use of Canoe Outpost vehicles, equipment, and property. If you are not a Canoe Outpost customer (being with someone who is a customer does not make you a customer unless you sign and pay) please don't block our parking and driveways so you can follow the bus to the put-in. Park across the road or down the road. Our facilities including restrooms, buses, and paddle equipment are for paying customers only. Please don't try to sneak your kids on the bus or "borrow" our paddle equipment. If you don't want to pay, there are plenty of public boat ramps that you can use for free. Canoe Outpost is a privately owned facility. For public boat ramp locations see Our Big Map

What's the difference between the 12 mile and 8 mile trip?

Uhh, 4 miles?

Is the information on your website true?, we make it all up!

Do you rent canoes?

Uhh, yeah.

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