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Camping on the Peace River is wilderness camping. There are no public camping areas, public picnic areas, or public restrooms except at some public boat ramps. There is no access off or on the river except at public boat ramps. Public boat ramps at Ft. Meade, Wauchula, Zolfo Springs, Gardner, Brownville, Arcadia, Nocatee, Liverpool, and DeSoto Marina are accessible to the public. See the "Big Map" for the location of public access points in and Arcadia and north: Big Map.
Property on the river: If you don't own it, someone else does. As a Canoe Outpost-Peace River customer you have the privilege to stop along the way and use Canoe Outpost-Peace River facilities at Gardner, Gardner South, Oak Hill, and Canoe Outpost-Arcadia. Any other tables, docks, garbage cans, and facilities along the river are privately owned if not at a public boat ramp. Please respect land owners rights and "No Trespassing" signs. Again, if you don't own it, someone else does. As long as you stay down by the water, you are in accordance with the law.
When paddling on the Peace River, paddlers need to stay in their canoes and/or near their canoes while on the trip and at camp. There is no hiking, no hiking out. Do not leave your friends, always stay within sight of each other. If there is a problem, paddlers need to paddle upstream back to Zolfo Springs or downstream to Gardner if on the 19.5 mile run. Emergency services cannot reach you easily while you are on the river especially during low water. There is also no road access, no quick drives to find you. This is wilderness canoeing. If you question your ability to function safely and with care while in a wilderness area we suggest you reconsider. Local authorities and outfitters are getting tired of 911 calls about "lost" drunk friends, folks who can't stay in their canoes and get "lost", and folks who hear "wild" animals outside their tent. 911 non-emergency calls involve a lot of money and manpower to handle and are usually false alarms and the frequency of them lately on the river will jeopardize the camping on the river. 911 is for emergency calls only i.e. someone is seriously hurt and is need of dire emergency care.
Please take note:
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- Arcadia Outpost: The gates at the Arcadia Outpost are locked for the protection of the vehicles parked there. The Arcadia Outpost is open 7 days a week; gates are locked at 5:00 pm on weekdays, at 6:00 pm on weekends.
- Bring plenty of food and drink while on the river. Also remember to bring sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and bug spray. Bring a change of clothes and a towel. Leave them in your vehicle for after the trip. Dressing rooms and outdoor rinse stations are available at both Outposts.
- Campfires: Cooking by the river is allowed as long as fires are extinguished and area is cleaned up. Use only fallen branches or charcoal. Do not cut any trees or shrubs! Please use existing firepits, every tent does not need a pit. Do not leave fires burning once you break camp.
- Campsites: Avoid leaving “improvements” to campsites such a clotheslines and tables. Wilderness means no trace of man. This is wilderness camping, no guides, no designated campsites, and no facilities.
- Coolers, 80 qt. or larger will not fit into the canoes. Nobody is to remove a thwart. A $50.00 damage fee will be charged to anyone removing a thwart. Oversized coolers will not be loaded on the bus. Customer video on how to pack a cooler for any extended stay. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz5Yaz_ydPk Please note: this big white cooler is being delivered to a camping area, not going in a canoe.
- Dogs and other pets are allowed in the canoes. Please be sure to keep them on a leash at all times when not on the water. Please sit to the back of the bus with dogs and do not allow them on the seats. Leave aggressive dogs at home.
- Emergency Contacts: There are no phones or access to outside world. No phones at Gardner, no stores or accesses off bridges. Bring a cellular phone if there is a concern. Dial 911 for sheriff. From Ft. Meade to Bowling Green, you are in Polk County, Bowling Green to Gardner is in Hardee County, and Gardner south is in DeSoto County. Paddle down to Gardner for easiest access out if on 19.5 mile trip. Only dial 911 if it is a true emergency.
- Fire Ants: Bring bug spray, Amdro, or similar product to use around your campsite if ants are present. WD40 is good for fire ant bites, sprayed on immediately will stop the sting and fewer bumps will come up. WD40 works good on any type of sting. Please do not throw food scraps on the ground within the campsites at Oak Hill. Fire Ants are especially fond of potato chips.
- Firewood is a limited commodity, use sparingly. Do not cut green wood or trees. Use only fallen wood or bring charcoal. Bring your own firewood especially during spring if you don't want to hunt for it. On all trips, firewood is limited or in the case of Oak Hill, not available at the camp sites. You need to buy some from us, bring some from home, or collect it as you come down the river. On the Zolfo-Gardner stretch, you can go to the east side of the river and collect wood, but only to collect wood. You have to camp on the west side.
- Fishing: Freshwater fishing licenses are required by law for the freshwater species. During snook season you must have a current freshwater license, saltwater license, & a snook stamp.
- Gardner Outpost: The gates at the Gardner Outpost are locked for the protection of the vehicles parked there. The gates are locked at 6:00 pm on weekends. The Gardner Outpost is closed during the week and the gates are locked at all times. Weekday parking available in Gardner for groups. If paddlers decide to come early at Gardner, use caution when docking, guard dogs are used at this location.
- No Glass Containers: Yes, this means no glass beer bottles! We do not have glass recycling in this area and glass is a problem, on and off the river. If you didn't already know, glass bottles, plastic bottles, and cans thrown into firepits do not burn!
- Human Waste: All campers need to remember bring trowels or shovels for burying toilet paper and human waste. Toilet paper must be buried or burned. Remember the three B's: 1. Bury it 2. Burn it or 3. Bring it out
- Inflatables: Inflated tubes, rafts, and kayaks cannot be transported. The banks of the Peace River is also home to some thorn trees, we call them Water Locust. Inflatables and the thorn trees don't get along. Best to wear shoes too because of the thorn trees.
- Keys: We will be glad to hold your keys or make sure you have readily available copies in case you lose yours. There are lots of keys in the bottom of the river. There is no local locksmith available on Saturdays. There is only one local locksmith, so if he's busy, you have a long wait. New trucks require a key/code from the dealer and the local dealer historically has been unable to help. Plan ahead.
- Label all gear & coolers.
- Ladies only: feminine hygiene products do not biodegrade or burn, feminine hygiene products must be carried out and disposed of in trash. Do not throw pads, tampons, wrappers, and applicators in the bushes, on the ground, or in the campfires. Please be considerate of others and Mother Nature.
- Lifejackets are required. Federal law requires everyone have a lifejacket that fits. Adult jackets are on the bus. Kids, 90 lbs. and under, must be fitted with a jacket at the office. Do not use the lifejacket belt to tie the canoes together, law requires that jackets are easily accessible. You will be fined by FWC if the jackets are tied to the thwarts. You'll be fined by Canoe Outpost-Peace River if you tie canoes together with the jackets and they tear. $10.00 a pop. Once torn, the jackets are illegal and cannot be repaired. Bring bungees or rope or ask at the desk!
- Motors We also do not allow motors of any type on our canoes and it is against state law to have any type of motor on our canoes, even trolling motors. We won't load them, we won't transport them. If we find out you put a motor on our canoe you will be charged a $50.00 service fee. Don't even try to sneak it on at the boat ramp. We're watching. The motor brackets tear up the canoes. If you have your own canoe with a motor you need to make other arrangements for transporting your motor, we do not allow electric or gas motors or cans of gas or batteries on our buses.
- Noise: Remember, there are other campers on the river, keep the noise down, no fireworks, and be considerate of others.
- Personal Canoes & Kayaks: All personal canoes, kayaks, and other vessels not registered with Canoe Outpost-Peace River must take out at the public boat ramp and cannot camp or stop on Canoe Outpost-Peace River property. Being “part of a group” does not mean automatic registration as Canoe Outpost customers. Renting a canoe or canoes from Canoe Outpost-Peace River does not mean that all friends, family, and associates with their own canoes/kayaks automatically become registered Canoe Outpost-Peace River customers. The public boat ramp is for use by the public. Canoe Outpost facilities are not for use by the general public, only registered Canoe Outpost-Peace customers can use the Canoe Outpost-Peace River facilities. Canoe Outpost-Peace River handles only canoes and kayaks which will fit on Outpost trailers and can be carried by one Canoe Outpost-Peace River staff member. Boats with the names like Gheenoe, Skanoe, Ganoe, Skanoo, and some Sears Ram-X, etc. are not canoes, cannot be carried by one person, and will not fit on Outpost trailers, therefore will not be transported or registered with Canoe Outpost-Peace River. If it's got molded, built-in fiberglass or plastic seating it usually won't fit.
- Picnicking: The Outpost has picnic tables in Arcadia, in Gardner, and along the river at Oak Hill for the exclusive use of Canoe Outpost-Peace River customers. The picnic area with shelter and grill at Arcadia is available for groups on a first come/first serve basis or by reservation. Tables at all locations are in the shade. Canoe Outpost-Oak Hill is the only designated picnic/camping area with hiking trails from Brownville to Arcadia and is for the exclusive use of Canoe Outpost-Peace River customers only. Feel free to follow the trails and use the picnic tables. Please do not disturb campers unless invited into their camp.
- Private Property: The Peace River is bordered on both sides by private property. Paddlers must stay near the water and below the high water mark. Trespassers can and will be prosecuted. Any homes, cabins, anchored boats, docks, and picnic areas other than Oak Hill are private property and off limits. Be considerate and don't stop and use these areas. There are no public facilities or property along the river. No hiking trails.
- Radios and boom boxes are fine but they do like to go swimming and not everyone shares your taste in music. Be considerate with your music or just listen to the symphony of nature.
- Recycling: No glass containers or Styrofoam on the river. We can only recycle aluminum and plastic. Our county does not have an active recycling program. We take the aluminum to a private recycler and the plastic goes to the local landfill to be transported to a different county for recycling.
- Safety: Canoeing & kayaking can be a hazardous sport. Please be careful and follow all safety rules. Do not jump or dive from canoes, bridges, banks, rope swings, or trees. It's not worth never walking again. Swim with caution. Shoes are recommended. We do not guarentee your safety. This is an outdoor sport with inherent risks.
- Shoes: We recommend wearing shoes at all times. The river bottom has sharp rocks and broken glass sometimes. The riverbank has thorn trees and briars along it.
- Thwarts: see coolers.
- Toilet Paper: Burn, Bury, or Bring it back. Do not leave white calling cards for everyone else to look at.
- Trash: Remember to bring trash bags or ask at the office for some. Bring all trash back to the Outpost!!!!! Tie your trash up high, the masked bandits are getting brazen. Bring back all cans, batteries, metal, plastic, and glass, they don't burn. Only burn your paper trash.
- Varmint-proofing: Varmints are getting friendly at Canoe Outpost-Oak Hill and other popular camping areas. Take care to have your food put up in varmint proof bags and tubs so you don't go hungry.
- Waterproofing: Put all gear especially cameras in waterproof containers. Ziploc bags are recommended for smaller items. Leave air in bags so they will float if canoe tips. Disposable waterproof cameras recommended. We also recommend leaving all valuables locked in your vehicle or we will hold them for you. The Outpost will be glad to hold your keys.
- Weapons: No guns, BB guns, air guns, pellet guns, paintball guns, chainsaws, bow & arrows, fireworks, or slingshots. Hunting is not allowed and it is a felony offense to hunt on private property without the permission of the owner.
- Wildlife: The canoe trip will be through undeveloped areas. Wildlife such as alligators, snakes, and a variety of insects are present. Canoe Outpost has never had a problem with any of the wildlife along the river but caution is to be observed. Do not feed, handle, or molest any wildlife. Watch where you step, look before reaching into trees etc. Possession of any alligator dead or alive, whole or part of, is against the law.
- Wild plants: It is illegal to remove air plants, orchids, and other wild plants.