Running through the heart of Florida's famous "spring region," the Santa Fe river is a true gem of wild Florida. The upper half of this 75-mile river is a small, winding creek that often dries in low water periods. It's an interesting area, but one which requires a guide to get to the good parts. But half way down, just above the quaint little town of High Springs, the river changes dramatically.
At O'leno State Park the river disappears into an underground cavern. When it reemerges from the depths, three miles away, it is a dramatically different river. Having joined with an underground river of crystal clear spring water, the reborn Santa Fe is nearly twice as big as it was when it "went below." For the remaining 30 miles, the Santa Fe winds through a beautiful landscape with abundant wildlife, lush vegetation and, of course, the springs. There are dozens of them, and they're all worth visiting. Some are small and hard to spot. Others arise from the riverbed and will go unnoticed unless you're snorkeling. It's not until you get about 7 miles below "the Rise" that you'll find the first big one - Poe spring - in Poe Spring county park.
From here you'll start passing a spring ever half hour or so. And, like their names, they are unusual and interesting. Lily - where you'll meet "naked Ed," the resident caretaker who has lived in a little thatch hut alongside the spring for nearly 15 years. As his name implies Ed only slips into his fur loin cloth when he has visitors. Otherwise he prefers to hang out (pun intended) as nekkid as the day he was born. No trip on the Santa Fe is complete without a visit with Ed. On downstream you'll pass Rum Island Spring, the beautiful Blue Spring before coming to the famous Ginnie Springs Park. This is the home to Devil's Ear, Devil's Eye, Ginnie, Dogwood and Twin Springs. And the list goes on - Myrtle's Fissure, Wilson Spring, Ichetucknee Spring and more. You'll never be bored on the Santa Fe.
Camping with facilities is available at Blue Springs Park and Ginnie Springs Park. There is also primitive camping along certain stretches - inquire locally for details.
Day Use fees for parks along the river are $4 - Poe Spring, $5 Blue Springs Park, and $7 for Ginnie Springs.
From Interstate 75, take the Hwy 441 exit at the town of Alachua (north of Gainesville in north Florida). Go west 6-7 miles to the town of High Springs. Contact Adventure Outpost (904-454-0611) for free river map and information about where to go.
There are public boat ramps alongside the bridges at Hwy 441, Hwy 27, Hwy 47 and Hwy 129. There are also a couple of remote, public landings.
815 NW Hwy 441
High Springs, FL 32643