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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weeki Wachee River

A Trio of manatees on the Weeki Wachee River

Today I learned a valuable lesson: You do not have to take a gazillion wildlife pics to enjoy a paddle. This paddle was one I had on schedule for many weeks. Last year I took my sister and her husband to the Weeki Wachee along my whole family. While we enjoyed the scenery was not the best paddle and my wife says that she is not going back unless we put in at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Since this was a solo paddle  I did not go to the State Park, at least by using the roads.

Weeki Wachee River

Put In / Take Out: I only know two options as Put Ins in the Weeki Wachee. You put in at the State Park and come all the way down the river to Rogers Park. The people renting canoes and kayaks at the State Park will arrange to pick you up there. It is my understanding that if you use your own vessel they will also take you back to the park for a fee. The second option is harder  but you will have double the fun. You put in at Rogers Park and go all the way to the State Park, against the current of a first magnitude spring and its 6.5 miles, but then you come back just floating. Today option 2 was my choice. The fee at Rogers Park is a $5. There is a pay station and takes cash or credit cards, which I think is convenient. Also, there are places nearby Roger Park where you can rent a kayak.

A view of Rogers Park from the Weeki Wachee

The Weeki Wachee is a first magnitude spring. Meaning that more than 64.6 millions of gallons per day flow out of the spring. As a matter of fact the Weeki Wachee averages 170 millions of gallons per day. That makes paddling upstream fun and challenging. A mile away from the park a lady asked me where I did put in. When I told her Rogers Park she replied..."Crazy Man". Well, I learned from the best so...What can I say?

Weeki Wachee River

Manatee eating on the Weeki Wachee
I started my paddle at 9:20 and was hoping to see manatees at the Hospital Hole. There were none but a few meters ahead, where a residential canal starts, three of them were coming down river. It is my policy not to harass these big mammals so did paddle down river and waited for them to come near my yak. Once they reached where I was did let the yak go and took a couple of pics while the manatees were swimming beside me. Seeing a manatee in such beautiful waters is an unique experience. I was lucky enough to live that experience three times today. This one just mentioned was the first, about 45 minutes later there were three more near a residential area. On that one too many people were around so just paddled away. The third time was on my way down and on that chance did get on the water with the manatee. I will add to it ahead.

Weeki Wachee River manatee

Scene on the Weeki Wachee River
When I said in the opening that I learned a lesson today did mean it. So far my method of evaluating our paddles was the amount of wildlife pics taken. Today did not take too many. The fact that wifey was not with me and the nature of this paddle had something to do. But it was an enjoyable paddle, for most of the time. It is hard to kayak this river and not to enjoy its beauty. The only thing I did not like was the dozens of boats on the river. It was like a parade. There were also many kayakers, it was expected, but the boats was an extreme. It took me almost three hours to reach the State Park mostly because had to stop several  times to let boats go ahead of me and also to let downstream kayakers to paddle by. That did not stop a canoe from slamming into my kayak but I was able to stay out of the water, not dry, but out of the river.

Kayakers enjoying a break at the State Park area

Weeki Wachee River manatee
I made it to the State Park around 12:05. A group of kayakers were already there, they passed me twice on the river, and a couple also arrived while I was there. I waited for all of them to leave before starting my paddle down river. In the mean time had a sandwich and two bottles of water. I was thankful that this time had the current in my favor. Had the river to myself except a couple of occasions where found kayakers beached on the side of the river. There is an area that used to be for public use but it was closed by the Hernando County due to the abuse and undesirable behavior of the public. It was on in that area where I had the chance to get into the water with a manatee. I saw it coming up river, paddled by it but realized that it did not keep going up. Found a place to beach the yak, grabbed my snorkeling gear and jumped into the water. It was eating and did not mind my presence at all. Did shoot a couple of pics and a video. After that saw a manatee with its calf being bothered by a Dad and his son. The kid was holding the baby in the water and the Dad was trying to ride the mom. Mom and calf were separated and the little one was trying to reach its mother. As much as I wanted to get into the water and take more pics was disgusted by the actions of the "humans" so put my yak between the baby and the kid until it rejoined its mother. They found a small cove and stayed there and I decided that they had enough of stupidity and left.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park Tour Boat

Did You Know That?...
The river that surfaces at Weeki Wachee Springs is the deepest naturally occurring spring in the USA. It measures 150ft wide and 250ft long. In 2007 a team of divers were able to explore the caverns under the spring and found multiple passages ranging from 265 to 407 Feet Fresh Water. That makes it the deepest cavern system in the USA.

Weeki Wachee River
Do not have many pics of wildlife, other than the manatees. There were not too many wading birds around but this is what I saw in the Weeki Wachee...


Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron


Great Egret

Things people do in the Weeki Wachee...

Swing Rope jumping

Swing Rope Jumping( I would do the same...if I was 17 years old)

Diving from trees

Here is a short raw video of a manatee on the Weeki Wachee River...

That is all. Thanks for reading and hopefully will see you next week on another Views From Our Kayak.

Weeki Wachee River


  1. "Crazy Man. Well, I learned from the bests so...What can I say?"

    LOL- I really did. As I think I resemble that remark.

    Thanks for the post and puting your yak between the kid and calf.

  2. go paddle



  3. Im new to the kayaking world but not to nature.. Im not so sure I could have been as reserved as you were with the idiot and his kid. Learning a lot form these posts. Please keep it up. :)
    Mike from Jax

  4. If this is your first time in this blog...Welcome!!! If not, thanks for coming back and welcome again!!!!

    I do not have an intimidating presence so try as much as I can to avoid situations. Just try to use a passive/smart approach. Besides, kayaking is supposed to be my relaxing therapy :)

    Thanks for your comments Mike.

  5. I loved your very informative post. Although I live an hour away, I wish I could kayak down Weeki Wachee more often. I also dislike running into all the crowds-- especially if they're disrespectful towards nature-- but at the same time I'm glad more people seem to be discovering this area.

    Your photos are also great however (constructive criticism) sometimes your writing was difficult to read. There were a few words missing grammatically here and there. I'm guessing you write like how you talk?

    I'm hoping to go back in a couple weeks. For the first time I plan to launch from Rogers Park-- your doing it gives me hope. I just acquired an inflatable boat and I'm hoping I have enough arm strength to get me upstream ^_^ Happy paddling.

    1. Thanks for everything. Will try to improve the writing.

  6. As a Weeki Wachee residence for 40 years I have swam, tubed, boated and kayaked the river many, many times. I strongly suggest if anyone would like to enjoy the river at its most peaceful go in early fall between September and November during the weekday or Spring March through May. Weekends are crazy all year long and if I see people harassing wildlife I always educate them, then again I am a science teacher and I have no problems telling people to behave themselves with a edcational lesson attached. :)