Tips for low and slow river conditions on the Santa Fe

by Merrillee Jipson, Rum 138

It may rain and we may get a flood, but this is what it is like now.

Plan your kayak, canoe or paddleboard tour down river accordingly, as the river is so low and slow. Starting up the river, you may need to add extra time to paddle downstream to your take out point. Most times on the Santa Fe River you can leisurely float downstream and make good timing, but not when it’s low and slow. You must paddle and be observant of approaching outcroppings of rocks and exposed submerged aquatic vegetation.

Portaging and general getting in and out of your vessel may be necessary with the levels being so low. To “portage” means you get out of your vessel and carry it with you over land to get through a shallow waterway.  Look for and direct your vessel into the streaming river through the shallows in order not to get out. Go with the flow!

There are several shallow conditions between SR 441 Bridge and Rum Island Park on a river that flows East to the West. Wear good covered water shoes in order to get through the shallows safely. These locations can be filled with deep sand sediment with extra pointy and sharp edges of karstic limestone formations.  Be careful where you place your footing, making sure you have a solid flat foot once out of your vessel. Be aware of your impact on the eco-systems beneath your next step.  The habitat is important and critical to the health of the Santa Fe River.

Starting at any of the public access areas on this river, be sure to begin your trip in the right direction.  Recently, the flow has been known to look and feel like it is going the opposite way of downstream at the US 27 Bridge boat ramp, just North of High Springs.  At this location, be sure to find the bridge and go under it at the beginning of your trip in order to be going in the correct direction.

The rapids after Ginnie Springs are a Class 1 today. Wimpy, fun and slightly challenging with some outcroppings and pile ups of floating debris in the shallows. Go right or left of the center here. The center will have rocks and vegetation which will be visible.  Going to the South side (left) it’s a deeper channel and faster current. Taking the North side (right) is more rocky and shallow.

Being out on top of water and in natural settings need planning to keep you and your party safer. Plan the best experience possible knowing your waterway before you go.  Rum 138 outfitters knows the Santa Fe River.  Start your trip with us by renting, owning or shutting paddling equipment with us. Book with us online at

Comments are closed.