Located in North Central Florida in the Suwannee River Water Management District, the Ichetucknee River is a 5.5-mile long tributary of the Santa Fe River, which in turn flows into the Suwannee River. The Suwannee’s final destination is the Gulf of Mexico.
One of Florida’s primary recreational tubing sites, the Ichetucknee River was designated an Outstanding Florida Water in 1984. The upper portion of the river flows for 3.2 miles through undeveloped riparian lands within Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Most of the river that lies within the park’s boundaries is less than 6 feet deep.
When the river reaches the bridge at U.S. Highway 27, it leaves the park and flows another 2.3 miles before its confluence with the Santa Fe. On average, the Ichetucknee contributes about 25 percent of the flow in the Santa Fe River and about 4 percent of the flow in the Suwannee River.
Formed by the cumulative groundwater discharge from nine named springs and numerous underwater spring vents, the Ichetucknee River is home to a vast array of plants and wildlife. Underwater plants are the foundation of the river’s complex food web that supports insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, mammals and birds.
Even though the river is an Outstanding Florida Water that is supposed to be protected under all circumstances, water quality and flow are both declining as the result of human activity. In 2008, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection determined that the Santa Fe River Basin—including the Ichetucknee River—was impaired for nitrate and dissolved oxygen concentrations. During the decade from 2000-2010, five out of 10 annual average flows in the river were lower than ever recorded during the previous 83 years.
Please see Issues for more information about what is affecting the springs and how we can help.
Author and river guide Lars Andersen has written a very detailed, accurate and lyrical description of the Ichetucknee River System that you may explore beginning at: