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23541
Florida

Kayaking North Florida’s Sacred Springs & Rivers

Kayak along North Florida’s artesian springs and rivers, learning about sustainability, conservation and ecology from the locals who advocate to protect the crystal-clear waters.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23541RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,349
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Florida

Kayaking North Florida’s Sacred Springs & Rivers

Kayak along North Florida’s artesian springs and rivers, learning about sustainability, conservation and ecology from the locals who advocate to protect the crystal-clear waters.
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,349
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Program No. 23541 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.

DATES & PRICES

Hotel - Standard Standard
Accommodation Details

Comfortable accommodations that meet our high standards.

Accommodation Details

Standard

Oct 24 - Oct 29, 2021
Small group
SOLD OUT
Hotel - Standard 1,349
 
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles sell out quickly, so be sure to enroll early.

Nov 14 - Nov 19, 2021
Small group
SOLD OUT
Hotel - Standard 1,349
 
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles sell out quickly, so be sure to enroll early.

Dec 5 - Dec 10, 2021
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,469
Jan 16 - Jan 21, 2022
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,469
Jan 23 - Jan 28, 2022
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,469
Mar 20 - Mar 25, 2022
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,499
Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2022
Small group
 
Standard 1,499
Nov 13 - Nov 18, 2022
Small group
 
Standard 1,499

DATES & PRICES

Hotel - Standard Standard
Accommodation Details

Comfortable accommodations that meet our high standards.

Accommodation Details

Standard

Oct 24 - Oct 29, 2021
Small group
SOLD OUT
Hotel - Standard 1,649
 
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles sell out quickly, so be sure to enroll early.

Nov 14 - Nov 19, 2021
Small group
SOLD OUT
Hotel - Standard 1,649
 
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles sell out quickly, so be sure to enroll early.

Dec 5 - Dec 10, 2021
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,799
Jan 16 - Jan 21, 2022
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,799
Jan 23 - Jan 28, 2022
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,799
Feb 13 - Feb 18, 2022
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,829
Mar 20 - Mar 25, 2022
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,829
Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2022
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,829
Nov 13 - Nov 18, 2022
Small group
SOLD OUT
 
Standard 1,829

At a Glance

The artesian springs of North Florida flow together to create a unique ecosystem and habitat for local wildlife — and their gentle, aqua-blue waters provide the perfect classroom for learning about this ecosystem and habitat by kayak! Find out about the threats that these springs (and the Floridian Aquifer that feeds them) face from human activity and how local activists like the Florida Springs Institute advocate to ensure clean water. As you paddle along the sparkling springs from Ichnetucknee to Ginnie Springs, learn about these environmental issues from local experts who are at the forefront of local conservation efforts.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Kayaking for several hours each day.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Stroll through Sweetwater Wetland Park—named one of Florida’s best birding sites—and find out about Alachua County’s citizen-driven initiative to create clean water for the wetlands.
  • Take part in classroom lectures on topics from sustainability to ecology and cultural history of the area.
  • Enjoy kayaking excursions with Lars Andersen, a Gainesville native whose 20 years of knowledge and expertise are unmatched.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less. Almost all rooms have one queen bed. Road Scholar roommate matches and request for two beds are unable to be accommodated with this program. A low single supplement is available.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Debbie Segal
Debbie Segal is an environmental scientist who has worked in the field of wetlands ecology, water quality, and wildlife for over 25 years. She helped design several constructed treatment wetlands, including Sweetwater Wetlands Park. An avid bird watcher, she serves as the newsletter editor and on the Board of Directors for the Alachua Audubon Society. She also volunteers for the Florida Springs Institute where she gives presentations on springs and aquifer protection.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Debbie Segal
Debbie Segal View biography
Debbie Segal is an environmental scientist who has worked in the field of wetlands ecology, water quality, and wildlife for over 25 years. She helped design several constructed treatment wetlands, including Sweetwater Wetlands Park. An avid bird watcher, she serves as the newsletter editor and on the Board of Directors for the Alachua Audubon Society. She also volunteers for the Florida Springs Institute where she gives presentations on springs and aquifer protection.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Paynes Prairie: The Great Savanna: A History and Guide
by Lars Anderson
This new paperback edition of Paynes Prairie still offers the sweeping history of the shallow-bowl basin in the middle of Florida, just south of Gainesville, but now adds a guide to outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in the state preserve there today, along with maps of trails for biking, hiking, and canoeing.
Cross Creek Cookery
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
First published in 1942, Cross Creek Cookery was compiled by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings at the request of readers who wanted to recreate the luscious meals described in Cross Creek -- her famous memoir of life in a Florida hamlet. Lovers of old-fashioned, down-home cooking will treasure the recipes for Grits, Hush-Puppies, Florida Fried Fish, Orange Fluff, and Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie. For more adventuresome palates, there are such unusual dishes as Minorcan Gopher Stew, Coot Surprise, Alligator-Tail Steak, Mayhaw Jelly, and Chef Huston's Cream of Peanut Soup. Spiced with delightful anecdotes and lore, Cross Creek Cookery guides the reader through the rich culinary heritage of the deep tidal South with a loving regard for the rituals of cooking and eating. Anyone who longs for food -- and writing -- that warms the heart will find ample portions of both in this classic cookbook.
Gainesville (Images of America: Florida)
by Rob Hicks
Gainesville, Florida, has grown from a small agricultural community in the north-central part of the state to a thriving city. Many people have had a hand in Gainesville’s evolution. After befriending the Timucuan Indians, who had originally inhabited the region, the Spanish began recruiting other settlers to move to the area. Despite those valued contributions, however, the people who brought the railroad to Gainesville deserve the most credit for giving the town its start. Soon after tracks were laid through the city, small businesses sprouted and opportunities for new industries arose. The city’s population expanded along with its economic growth, and more people began to witness the unique potential of Gainesville. In 1905, the city became home to the University of Florida, and a rich educational heritage began. The university brought great attention to the town and subsequently made Gainesville one of the most important cities in the state and one of the most prominent educational epicenters in the South.
The Historic Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation: An Illustrated History
by Karen Kirkman (Author), Kevin McCarthy (Contributor)
This is the first detailed history of one of the oldest houses in Alachua County, Florida: the Haile Homestead. Fully illustrated with many photographs, most of which were in private collections, this history deals with an important family in the county's history and brings the story of the house up to the present.
The Yearling
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Young Jody adopts an orphaned fawn he calls Flag and makes it a part of his family and his best friend. But life in the Florida backwoods is harsh, and so, as his family fights off wolves, bears, and even alligators, and faces failure in their tenuous subsistence farming, Jody must finally part with his dear animal friend. There has been a film and even a musical based on this story.
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 3 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Intro to North Florida
Gainesville, Florida
D
Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: Inn check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously). Orientation: 4:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will have the same kayaking instructors throughout the whole program. Participants will be responsible for loading/unloading kayaks at paddling locations, and carrying the boats to/from the water’s edge. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Afterwards, we’ll enjoy the wine and cheese welcome reception before dinner, and spend some time getting to know our fellow lifelong learners.

Dinner: At the inn, we’ll savor a buffet dinner featuring Southern favorites, with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: On the porch of the inn, we’ll settle in for an introductory discussion and viewing of a film on Florida’s many springs. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night's rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Florida Springs Institute, Paddle Down Ichetucknee River
Gainesville, Florida
B,D
Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: Getting in/out of kayaks; approximately 2 hours paddle time in the afternoon; one-way, downstream with gentle current. Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 27 miles throughout the day.

Breakfast: At the inn, we’ll have a delicious breakfast buffet featuring a rotating daily menu of hot items as well as homemade granola, yogurt, fresh local fruit, English muffins and toast, and preserves, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Board a motorcoach, we will transfer to the Florida Springs Institute where we’ll meet an expert lecturer-biologist-ecologist for a lecture on the Florida springs and aquifer sustainability, followed by a question and answer session.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in the town of High Springs. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Arriving aboard our vehicle, we’ll meet our outfitter for an afternoon of kayaking on the river at Ichetucknee Springs. This is a one-way downstream paddle is on a quiet spring of clear water, all within Ichetucknee State Park. Its width ranges from 10 feet in the narrowest parts of the headwaters to over 100 feet in the wild rice marshes, and the current is very gentle.

Dinner: Inn buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Kayak Santa Fe River, Blue Springs State Park
Gainesville, Florida
B,L,D
Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: Getting in/out of kayaks; paddling about 4.5 hours; one-way, downstream on Santa Fe River; relatively wide waterway (averaging nearly 100 feet across) with gentle current.

Breakfast: Inn buffet.

Morning: Arrive at the put-in point on the Santa Fe River, our paddle downstream will be a one-way trip on this broad, easy-flowing river. While this is primarily a blackwater river (the most common river type in Florida), we will pass one of the greatest concentrations of clear, artesian springs in Florida. Our route will carry us past over 15 named springs and many smaller, unnamed ones, as well as a couple of swallet holes where the water flows down into the ground—basically the reverse of springs. Few rivers compare with the Santa Fe for viewing and studying freshwater springs, swallets, and the karst terrain. Along the way, we’ll make stops and have opportunities to learn more about the springs the keep our eyes peeled for wildlife.

Lunch: At Blue Springs State Park, we’ll have packed lunches.

Afternoon: Remaining at Blue Springs, we’ll gather with the head park ranger who will lead a lecture and walk focused on the ecology and biodiversity of Florida’s springs, which represent some of the most endangered natural land forms in Florida. The environmental health of these systems is inextricably tied to the health of the Florida Aquifer and this presentation will illustrate the importance of springs as natural gardens, the threats that are resulting in their degradation, and a possible path for their recovery and sustainable future. We’ll then return to the inn.

Dinner: Inn buffet.

Evening: We’ll then settle in on the porch for a lecture from a Florida historian on the commerce of the river, which will feature reports about industries such as logging, impact on Native American communities, and more.

DAY
4
Paynes Prairie, Hike La Chua Trail, Observation Tower
Gainesville, Florida
B,L,D
Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: Walking approximately 4 miles throughout the day; boardwalks, paved and packed earth trails, some avoidable steps. Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 30 miles; less than 1 hour.

Breakfast: Inn buffet.

Morning: Arriving to the park, we’ll set out on north rim of the La Chua Trail in Paynes Prairie State Park and take a morning hike with a local interpreter, who is also a senior park ranger. Paynes Prairie is the only park in Florida where visitors can experience bison and horses roaming wild, making it a unique place. Nearly 300 species of birds also frequent the park along with alligators, deer and many other animals.

Lunch: At Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Paynes Praire, we’ll have our boxed lunches.

Afternoon: Continuing, we’ll hike the rims of La Chua Sink, still in Paynes Prairie, followed by a lecture from an environmental scientist who will explain why this feature plays an important role in Florida's first state preserve. Our hike will finish at Paynes Prairie headquarters where you may wish to climb to the top of the three-story Observation Tower. It’s the perfect location to take in the views of the Big Lagoon State Park landscape.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to explore the Gainesville Farmers Market nearby.

DAY
5
Kayaking at Silver Springs State Park
Gainesville, Florida
B,L,D
Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: Getting in/out of kayaks; paddling about 2.5 hours one-way downstream; Silver River is relatively wide, from 70 to 100 feet across, with a gentle current. Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 80 miles total; about 2 hours roundtrip.

Breakfast: Inn buffet.

Morning: Traveling via motorcoach, we’ll arrive at Silver River Springs State Park where we will kayak down the Silver River. There are the dozens of springs along the first mile of the river including Mammoth Spring, one of the largest in the world. The clear water flowing from these springs merge to form one of Florida's most scenic rivers. The entire 5.5 mile river and the land surrounding it on both sides is within Silver River State Park, which features a semi-tropical forest of bald cypress, tupelo, red maples, green ash, holly, dogwood, elm, and palm trees.

Lunch: At Silver Springs State Park, we’ll have our boxed lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll then meet with Silver Springs State Park’s head warden at the Silver River Museum, which is an environmental education center, for an interpretive lecture about the cultural and scientific history of the river – prehistoric to present. Afterwards, we will board a glass bottom boat for a ride on the water. Better able to see the goings on beneath the surface, we will see the river in a whole new way.

Dinner: Inn buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
6
Wrap-up Presentation, Program Concludes
Gainesville, Florida
B

Activity note: Inn check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Inn buffet.

Morning: Immediately following breakfast, we’ll settle in for a wrap-up presentation featuring photos and events regarding our program and Florida Springs. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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