Suwannee River Paddling Festival: April 6-8, 2018
Join Paddle Florida, the Florida State Parks system,and waterway conservation organizations in celebrating the sixth annual Suwannee River Paddling Festival!
March 23, 2018 or when festival capacity is reachedLocation
Suwannee River State Park near Live Oak will serve as the festival's home base for the weekend. Sitting atop a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers, the park provides an ideal location from which paddlers can enjoy all that these two scenic rivers have to offer.
PADDLING, of course, on two of North Florida's most beautiful rivers! The weekend will also feature great music, outdoor meals, an evening ghost tour through nearby ruins, and an opportunity to hear from local experts dedicated to preserving North Florida’s rivers, springs, and watersheds.
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 $5,000 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.
This full package fee includes two nights of camping, all meals, entrance to the benefit concert, event t-shirt, water bottle, and river maps. Please note that this page is for festival registration only. Payment can be made through either PayPal or regular mail. Further information will be given on making payment after completion of the festival registration form.
Paddlers needing to rent a canoe or kayak may contact our partnering outfitter, Suwannee Canoe Outpost.
Required Liability Waiver
Festival participants are required to complete a liability waiver, which can be downloaded from the 'Documents' tab o this page. If you're sending your festival registration and fee through regular mail, please include your completed waiver. You can also bring your completed waiver with you to check-in. We will also have blank waivers onsite for paddlers to complete.
Paddle Florida Policies
- Paddlers must wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) and whistle at all times on the river.
- Paddlers under age 18 are the responsibility of, and must be accompanied by, a parent or guardian. No more than two children under the age of 12 per adult guardian.
- Sorry, no pets allowed.
- All paddlers must provide emergency contact information and sign a Waiver of Claims and Release of Liability form. Parents must sign for children under the age of 18.
- People-powered watercraft only.
- Paddle Florida adheres to all rules put forth by the state park we stay in, including the ban on alcoholic beverages.
- All paddlers must respect private property along the rivers.
- All paddlers must have basic paddling and swimming skills.
- Violations of these policies can result in the paddler being removed from the event without refund.
Due to the financial outlay and costs incurred by Paddle Florida during event planning, any force majeure, which includes but is not limited to water levels, inclement weather, and any other Acts of God not mentioned herein, shall not result in the refund of any fees paid to Paddle Florida. Absolutely no fees will be refunded after 15 days before the event begins. Any fees refunded by Paddle Florida will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Documents Attached to Suwannee River Paddling Festival: