Photography and story by Jessica Chatterton
Just a half an hour drive east of Downtown Panama City, the small town of Wewahitchka is the gateway to a 6,700-acre body of water fed by the Chipola River, the Dead Lakes. With dark tannic waters, the name belies the abundance of fish and wildlife that visitors can enjoy in this remote area. I would call the Dead Lakes one of Florida’s most mysterious and unusual places with its many cypress trees and stumps jutting out from the water. This at times eerie landscape formed in the beginning and middle of the last century when the shifting course of the Apalachicola River cut off a section of the Chipola River, causing the surrounding area to flood. Very little of the lake is accessible by land and the waterways can be difficult to navigate. To explore the lakes by guided boat tour, visitors can join a kayak tour for $50 per person and pontoon boat tours for $150 per group with Off The Map Expeditions.
On your way to Dead Lakes, I highly recommend a stop by either L.L. Lanier and Sons or Smiley Honey to pick up some famous tupelo honey at their quaint farm stands. Afterward enjoy the delicious daily special at the Tiki Grill, a highly recommended take-out restaurant on Overstreet Road.
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