The Wekiva Wild and Scenic River System

For canoeing and kayaking recreational opportunities, download the Paddle Wekiva Guide.

The Wekiva River System consists of the Wekiva River, Rock Springs Run, Wekiwa Springs Run, and Black Water Creek, which is located within Orange, Seminole, and Lake counties in northern central Florida. Two separate boundaries influence hydrology of the river system. The first is the boundary of the surface water drainage basin, generally referred to as the “Wekiva basin”. The entire surface water drainage basin is approximately 242 square miles in size, with its northernmost extent reaching into Marion County. A significant portion of this area is in public ownership. The second boundary is that of the “Wekiva springshed”, the aquifer recharge capture area within which water from the surface percolates and travels through underground strata to eventually emerge at the springs. This springshed area encompasses an area extending beyond the surface water basin, primarily to the south and west.

The interaction between surface water and groundwater is complex. Rain percolates through porous limestone and karst geologic features to the Floridan aquifer, flowing in a generally southwest to northeast direction through the springshed. This groundwater eventually resurfaces via springs in the basin. The river system, however, is fed both by springs from the aquifer and directly through surface runoff. Although the springs provide a relatively consistent flow of fresh water throughout the year (in water flow volume and temperature), the seasonal variations in surface runoff flows may be substantial. By contrast, blackwater streams receive most of their flow from precipitation resulting in annual rainy season over-bank flows. This dynamic surface and groundwater hydrology has created an intricate mosaic of rivers, creeks, lakes, springs, seepage areas, and sinkholes.

Elevations within the basin range from sea level to about 70 feet above sea level. The climate is considered subtropical, with an average annual temperature of 72 degrees. Daily maximum Fahrenheit temperatures in the summer approach the mid 90’s. The average annual rainfall in the Wekiva basin is 52 inches, with June through October, the rainiest season.’

The dynamic hydrology of the basin and local climate combine to provide ideal conditions for a diverse variety of natural communities such as pine flatwoods, wet and dry prairie, hydric hardwood hammocks, longleaf pine and wiregrass, xeric scrub oak, sand pine scrub, swamp, and marsh communities. These communities support numerous species of plants and animals, some of which are endangered, threatened, or species of special concern. Much of the land adjacent to the Wekiva River System is in public ownership by the state of Florida or St. Johns River Water Management District, with smaller public recreational parks owned by various local governments. Much of the private lands adjacent to the river system are within Seminole and Lake counties.

National Wild & Scenic River System Designation

The Wekiva River together with Wekiwa Springs Run, Rock Springs Run and Black Water Creek were designated by the United States Congress as a National Wild and Scenic River in October 2000. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act states that in order for a river to be eligible for designation it must be “free-flowing” and must possess one or more “outstandingly remarkable” values.

Our 5 Outstanding Remarkable Values:
  • Scenic
  • Recreation
  • Wildlife and Habitat
  • Water Quality and Quantity
  • Historic and Cultural Resources

Discover the Wekiva Wild & Scenic River

The Wekiva River system is a nationally treasured landscape and outstanding scenic resource that offers many opportunities to experience a unique part of natural Florida. Please help us to enjoy and protect this resource with our local “Paddle Wekiva” guide to canoeing and kayaking opportunities all along our beautiful river system.

Wekiva River Management Plan

The Wekiva Wild and Scenic River System Management Plan serves as the basis for protecting a designated river’s values to ensure the river will be protected in perpetuity for future generations to enjoy. The Management Plan was developed by the Wekiva River System Advisory Management Committee (AMC) in collaboration with the National Park Service (NPS) to fulfill this enabling legislation requirement. Originally created in 2012, the plan was given a comprehensive update in 2023.

Help Us Protect The Wekiva River

River Ambassadors fill critical roles on behalf of the Wekiva Wild and Scenic River System Management Advisory Committee, providing essential visitor services and supporting an “on the water” stewardship program. These vounteer positions include:

  • Education & Outreach
  • River Patrol
  • Promotion of Stewardship
  • Resource Management