Florida may not be well known for its whitewater rapids. In fact, you probably wouldn’t expect any rapids in this mountain free and generally flat state. But don’t let Florida’s gentle rivers and cool springs fool you-there are Class III rapids here. Here’s a list of the best rapids in the state. So pack up your paddling gear, load up the boat and head out for Florida’s whitewater adventures.
North of the town of Marianna in north Florida, the Chipola River begins its journey. Flowing through the Florida Caverns State Park, this mainly spring fed river is at times crystal clear and at others murky and tannin stained. The largest tributary of the Apalachicola River, it feeds the Apalachicola River with its 63 freshwater springs that dot the length of this fantastic river. The rapids are part of the 51 mile Chipola River Paddling Trail.
Numerous shoals along the river present some challenging rapids when water levels are low. The “Look and Tremble” rapids section is a Class I rapids during low water and a simple gurgle when water levels rise. The rapids are just below the SR 274 bridge. There is parking here, but is limited to the sides of the road. More information can be found here about directions, conditions and other amenities.
Beginning in Madison County and ending in Taylor County, the Aucilla River is can become a Class II rapid during low waters. Several shoals in the area provide rough water and white caps. High limestone banks and exposed rocks can make this river tough to navigate if you’re not experienced. The river run is approximately 27 miles and several spots along the river allow access for shorter journeys.
The rapids section of the river begins in what is known as “Big Rapid” and flows over an old rock dam. Several mini-boulders protrude from the stream, so it’s wise to stop and inspect the rapids before beginning any attempt to shoot them. The Aucilla River Paddling Trail website can give you all the directions, conditions and other information for the perfect Florida river rapids trip.
This north Florida State park offers the largest whitewater rapids in the state. The Class II rapids flow through some of Florida’s best scenery as well. 80 feet high limestone bluffs, sandy banks and beautiful forests can be seen in all directions-if you dare to look as you shoot the rapids! When water level reaches between 59 and 61 feet above mean sea level, Big Shoals becomes a Class III rapid.
There are two sets of rapids here in White Springs. The Big and Little Shoals sections are found in both state parks of the same name. There is no place to access the river rapids directly without a hike through the forest, so pack your gear and expect a ½ mile or more walk. In water conditions lower than 59 feet mean sea level, the rapids become to rocky to navigate. Visit the website here for more details on entrance fees, directions and water conditions.