What to do in Dead Lakes State Recreation Area

Before the Department of Natural Resources subleased this 83-acre area from the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission in 1974, the land had a diverse history. From 1936 until 1951, the Game Commission operated the area as a fish hatchery. Two ponds and one of the two houses built for the resident biologist in 1936 still remains. In the 1950s, turpentine was the major industry. A still was located just beyond the park boundary; and some of the trees within the park show "cat faces" where the turpentine was drawn out.

The primary plant communities found at Dead Lakes are the river sways to the east, swamp forest to the north and pine flatwood to the south and west. Former residents of the area introduced nonnative plants, which can still be found in the park; but, in keeping with Florida Park Service land management philosophy, the practice of removing the exotic plants to make room for native plants is ongoing.

Dead Lakes is reported to have been formed when sand bars created by the current of the Apalachicola River blocked the Chipola River. The ensuing high water killed thousands of trees in the floodplain, giving the area its name. The uplands are covered mainly by longleaf pines, with sweetbay, magnolia and cypress trees bordering wetlands. Animal life includes foxes, cotton rats, raccoons, opossums, deer, rabbits, skunks, beavers, turtles, snakes, and alligators. Dead Lakes offers fishing, boating, camping and nature study. A boat ramp is available.

Dead Lakes State Recreation Area offers camping, hiking, boating, canoeing, picnicking, and fishing.

Dead Lakes State Recreation Area is located in northwest Florida, one mile north of Wewahitchka on S.R. 71 and southwest of Tallahassee.

The panhandle area of Florida experiences mild, comfortable winters and warm to hot, humid summers. The average summer temperatures reach well above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild with temperatures averaging below 52 degrees Fahrenheit (below 11 Celsius). The average precipitation for the panhandle area is more than 60 inches per year. August and September are peak months of the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through November 30.

P.O. Box 989
Wewahitchka, FL 32465

Phone: 850-639-2702

  • Dead Lakes State Recreation Area Travel Q&A