The Peace River is 106 miles long and runs south to the Charlotte Harbor estuary from where it begins in northern Polk County at the junction of Saddle Creek and the Peace Creek Drainage Canal. Life on Charlotte Harbor is directly linked to the Peace River. A beautiful, scenic river that changes from primarily saltwater to brackish to fresh as you go up the river. Largely undeveloped and a sanctuary for birds, reptiles and fish it feels remote and untouched. Perfect for the canoer, kayaker and small power boater it has incredible fishing for many saltwater species including snook, redfish, tarpon and freshwater species such as largemouth bass and bluegill are all in the same waters. Rumor has it that the old Tarzan movies were shot here. Once you explore the waters you will believe this was true because alligators, tropical birds and wild foliage untouched by man give you a true jungle feel.
The estuary is a mosaic of habitats: salt marshes, beaches, open bay, seagrass meadows, tidal creeks, mudflats, salt barrens and mangrove forests. Each habitat supports an incredible assortment of organisms, many of which are rare and endangered, including manatees, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, wood storks, roseate spoonbills, American crocodiles, Florida black bears, Sherman’s fox squirrels, Florida scrub-jays and four species of sea turtle.
At least 2,300 different animal species make their living in the estuary’s mangrove forests. Over 450 fish species thrive in its waters. It’s a favorite destination of birders, with 331 bird species documented. Biologists have observed 39 species of mammals, 67 species of reptiles and 27 species of amphibians.
The estuary is also where you’ll find the Charlotte Harbor State Buffer Preserve, a patchwork collection of undeveloped properties comprising almost 39,000 acres. The Charlotte Harbor State Buffer Preserve surrounds or borders on many of the harbor’s most sensitive and valuable natural areas, including Cape Haze, Gasparilla Sound-Charlotte Harbor, Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound. All are classified as Outstanding Florida Waterways and aquatic preserves. Along with Lemon Bay to the north, the aquatic preserves total over 150,000 acres.
Paddle the Peace River with Canoe Outpost outfitters and enjoy a quiet, peaceful float along Florida’s most popular State Paddle Trail. The beautiful Peace River offers wildlife viewing, fishing, swimming, hiking trails, wilderness camping, fossil hunting, and of course, canoeing and kayaking. View towering cypress trees with moss beards and soaring birds, hear the rippling water, and the meaning of the true Florida becomes apparent. Be transported back to the days of the Indians and first explorers as you explore this piece of Florida from days past.
For the novice or experienced paddler, the Peace offers something for all. Wilderness half-day, full-day, and overnight camping trips from two to eight days.
Enjoy the Peace River for the day and then stop into the Navigator Restaurant for a nostalgic old Florida meal overlooking the Peace River.
The link below takes you to the Southwest Florida Management Districts story on the Peace River. It is quite enjoyable to read: