The Peace River is a couple of hours drive time south west of Kennedy Space Center.
The water clarity of the Peace River runs from clear in the shallows to tannic dark in the deeper sections.
A small river 106 miles in length, (We did a 75 mile trip) the Peace is a fun paddle although often on this river we had to get out of the kayaks and walk though the rocky shallows. Some folks might call them "shoals" however I just call them rocks or even rapids.
Footing was very uneven in the Shoals.
Florida winter paddle on the Peace River (ten degrees above freezing)
Other paddlers in plastic boats or canoes just powered through the rocky shoals-scratches and dings be dammed.
Walking the boats through the shallows
River of fossils
Of the group of "modern explorers" with whom we were paddling with---only my wife and I had come prepared to experience the world famous Peace River fossil hunting.
We had forsaken the normal fishing poles for a short shovel and floating screens because the Peace flows through an area of Florida known as Bone Valley.
Pleistocene and Miocene reptile, bird and mammal fossils are common as well as sharks teeth and petrified sand dollars from the time when most of Florida was submerged under a shallow sea.
Stopping for the night
Homemade screen that could be rolled up and put in the hold when needed. The shovel went on the back of the kayak.
The Peace River is famous for the fossil hunting and renown for fossil hunting tours.
However I was unprepared for the shear amount of people fossil hunting in the river.
The fossil hunters ranged from curious children to whom we gave our sharks teeth and sandollars; to what appeared to be full time fossil hunters in scuba gear.
Untold numbers of holes and pits scarred the rivers edge, sand bars and occasional islands
Crowd of kayaks
I could see there was a certain fossil hunting addiction - type of Bone fever and I suppose we we victims of the fever.
Co-workers at the space center had regaled me with stories of five gallon buckets of sharks teeth and flint arrowheads sifted from the sandy bottom. (Florida law now prohibits the collection of native American artifacts from under the water)
And indeed upon my insistence my KSC co-workers had showed me their Peace River megaldon (giant shark) teeth. -Yep I was envious.
Also the Internet is awash with personal collections of imperial mammoth teeth, llama bones, jaguar, alligator and dugong fossils. So I could understand the crowds-I just was not expecting them or the crater pits along the banks.
Pioneer Park boat ramp
Our personal finds? Lots of tiny shark teeth. Fossilized sand dollars and buckets full of fossilized bird bones-proving Florida was the bird capital of North America even in the Miocene era.
Nothing to brag about- "yet"
The Peace River alternates from deep to shallow water.
Would I do the Peace River fossil hunt again?
Oh heck yes. In fact my wife and I both take notice when the Peace River goes into flood stage- an perhaps the flood waters expose new fossils.
The fact that we would paddle a river more than once is a true compliment.
Of note there is a water fall one foot in height (really a rock ledge) that requires either portage around the ledge or the use of the rather rocky side channel around the falls.
Planning the next trip......
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My fictional series/stories on Florida history:
Freedoms Quest (book one)
Struggle for the northern frontier and other lost tales of old Florida.
Available on Amazon