Suwannee River Paddling Festival
03 - 05 Apr 2020
Join Paddle Florida, the Florida State Parks system,and waterway conservation organizations in celebrating the 7th annual Suwannee River Paddling Festival!
Saturday morning shuttles will transport paddlers upriver on the Withlacoochee to Madison Blue Spring State Park. From there, paddlers will journey 12 miles downstream back to our home base at Suwannee River State Park. This paddle usually takes 3-4 hours. On Sunday morning, we'll transport paddlers 8 miles upstream on the Suwannee River to launch at Gibson Park. This paddle usually takes 2-3 hours. Water levels will impact the duration of each day's paddle and the opportunity to see natural springs along the river.
Water levels on the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers can vary greatly. When they're up, a current of 4 mph or more will give paddlers a nice easy ride. When they're down, paddlers will work harder to maintain a 2-3 mph pace and shoals may appear on the Withlacoochee. We won't know water levels until the week of the festival. Due to the wide range of potential conditions, we recommend kayaks or canoes of at least 12 feet in length. Longer boats generally give paddlers more directional control than shorter boats, which usually contributes to a happier time on the water. In low water conditions, paddlers may prefer to bring plastic boats, which usually weather limestone shoals better than those made of more fragile materials like fiberglass, Carbonlite, or Kevlar.
Paddle Florida is known for the lively and talented musical entertainment they provide around evening campfires on their trips. We'll bring some of our favorite performers together for a concert Saturday evening, with proceeds benefiting regional waterway conservation. Past concerts have raised over $6,000 collectively for organizations such as the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, Florida Defenders of the Environment, and the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism. Paddle Florida is proud to partner with these organizations to support the important conservation work they're doing across the state.