Florida’s Natural Wonder: Rapids

Big Shoals


Big Shoals State Park is home to Florida’s most extensive rapids.  That’s right, rapids in Florida!  I lived in Florida for 20 years with no idea there are rapids here.  After all, Florida is the lazy river capital of North America.  The St. Johns River, Florida’s largest river, flows at 0.3 mph…when it’s not flowing in reverse.  And like the typical Florida river, the Suwannee is a lazy river — except at Big Shoals.  Here the river drops 9 feet in less than a quarter of a mile.  The limestone bed and surrounding limestone bluffs form a a gorgeous trough that guides the Suwannee through a lush subtropical forest.  These conditions, along with just the right water levels, create Class III rapids.  Short, but sweet.

Another unique feature is the river’s tea-stained color.  Not that rivers of “tea” are unusual.  Lazy rivers throughout Florida are known as Blackwater Rivers, because of the tannins released by decaying plant matter.  Tannins are what give coffee and tea their color.  However, I’ve never seen rapids on a tannin-stained river…and I’ve seen a lot of rapids.  It provides an interesting contrast to the limestone trough the Suwannee runs through at Big Shoals.  Add in the North Florida foliage and you have one very picturesque set of rapids.

This is another example of why Florida State Parks have won an unprecedented 3 National Gold Medals for outstanding State Parks.  Without a doubt this is a Florida Natural Wonder that you’ll want to add to your Florida Bucket List.  For more on Big Shoals State Park, along with pictures and a video, check out our “Bucket List” tab on the header or click here: http://wp.me/P46Ece-6V


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