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Santa Fe River Rise

Santa Fe River Rise
Santa Fe River Rise./ T. Scott, Wikimedia Commons / public domain

WorldBlue  In short

The Santa Fe River Rise from the boat or shore looks like a calm lake. But below the calm water is a powerful resurgence of Santa Fe River from the underground, every second discharging 14.5 cubic meters of water.

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GPS coordinates
29.8738 N 82.5915 W
Location, address
North America, United States, Florida, Columbia County, in the forest at River Rise Yellow Trail
Average discharge
14,511 l/s (1998-2014, 2.)

Map of the site

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Landscape at Santa Fe River Rise
Landscape at Santa Fe River Rise./ LittleT889, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Santa Fe River, which is about 25 m wide, disappears underground in O’Leno State Park, at the Santa Fe River Sink. It meanders under the ground for several kilometers until it resurfaces at the Santa Fe River Rise, which is some 4.5 km in a straight line from the sink, in River Rise Preserve State Park.

The spring (resurgence) pool is 53 by 50 m large and up to 14.9 m deep. The average discharge from 1998 to 2014 was 14,511 l/s – in this respect, the Santa Fe River Rise is the third most powerful spring in Florida after Alapaha Rise (16,260 l/s) and Wakulla Spring (17,437 l/s).

This river rise may not be a true spring, but it is nevertheless a beautiful natural landmark. A natural forest extends between the river sink and its resurgence and also surrounds the rise.

An especially pleasant way to experience the beauty of this site is to travel by boat for several kilometers upstream from the High Springs Boat Ramp, passing by several more impressive springs.

While paddling above the River Rise, there is no sign of the powerful flow from the underground – the water is calm, like a lake.

This underground river has been carved in Ocala Limestone that formed in the late Eocene. The river and its underground section, however, are much younger.

Old Bellamy Cave

The spring run serves as one of the entrances to a large cave system – Old Bellamy Cave. The length of its explored passages is 12,657 m and its depth is 48.77 m. This cave was discovered in 1995 and is very dangerous for explorers.

History of Santa Fe River Rise

In prehistoric times, people used this area to mine chert – a valuable stone for weapons and other tools. There are four known prehistoric quarries in this area. The natural bridge between the sink and the River Rise (if we can call a 4.5 km wide section a “bridge”) has served as a transportation route since prehistoric times.

Near the sink, in the early 19th century, Old Bellamy Road was built and even a hotel (Leno Springs Hotel) was built near the sink. It burned down in 1896.

In 1934, the land around the sink was donated to the state and became one of the first Florida state parks.

Only in 1999, the land around the Santa Fe River Rise was acquired by the state and Florida established River Rise Preserve State Park.

Today, this is a charming natural forest area with numerous hiking trails and paddling areas.


  1. SANTA FE RIVER AT RIVER RISE NEAR HIGH SPRINGS, Snoflo. Accessed on September 6, 2023.
  2. Santa Fe River at River Rise. Suwannee River Water Management District, Water Data Portal. Last accessed on 9th September 2023.

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