Centered around a strangely beautiful 6,700-acre lake with dark tannic waters and wizened ancient cypresses, Dead Lakes Recreation Area is more than just one of Florida’s most intriguing places to paddle. With a campground and hiking trails that wander off into the floodplain, it’s a great weekend destination.
Lat-Lon: 30.138273, -85.201568
Open: Sunrise to sunset
Call 850-227-8693 about camping. Off the Map Expeditions provides kayak and canoe rentals and leads tours on the Dead Lakes.
The park is off SR 71 just north of Wewahitchka on State Park Rd, south of Blountstown.
Known as Dead Lakes State Recreation Area until the State of Florida removed it from the Florida State Parks system in 2003, it is now a Gulf County Park with signage and facilities that make it obvious that it was once a state park. While the boat ramp and waterway are the central focus for most visitors, the park also has a day use area with picnic tables and a nature trail. The very pretty campground under the pines has 22 RV and 8 tent spots.
The lakes were formed when a dam was placed across the Chipola River in 1960 near Wewahitchka. The creation of a Chipola Cutoff canal diverted the river’s main flow away from the cypress swamp to the Apalachicola River, changing the hydrology of the area.
After many of the trees in this massive cypress-tupelo swamp in the flooded river floodplain died back and fishing declined, the dam was removed between 1987 and 1989. Without the dams, fish populations and species diversity have risen every year. Anglers enjoy excellent bream and shellcracker fishing in spring.
The tupelo trees of the swamp are the reason Wewahitchka is known as the country’s best source of tupelo honey.
Explore the park
- Paddle to Dead Lakes - One of Florida's most unusual and beautiful places to paddle, the Dead Lakes include 6,700 acres of mazy cypress and tupelo swamps in the Chipola River floodplain.