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The St. Johns River

History | Attractions | Marinas | Anchorages

The St. Johns River is Florida's largest rivers and one of a relative few major north-flowing rivers in the world. It stretches just over 310 miles from it's source in Indian County to it's mouth at the Atlantic Ocean, east of Jacksonville. The river level drops a mere 30 feet during this course, making it one of the slowest flowing rivers around (with the exception of Downtown Jacksonville, where the river narrows significantly, creating quite strong currents). North of Palatka, the river averages about 2 miles across!   Satellite Photo  


History

The river's formation is somewhat unusual. More than 100,000 years ago, the area of land that now comprises the river was connected to the Atlantic Ocean for most, if not all, of its length, making the river nothing more than an extended system of lagoons and tributaries. As the ocean levels dropped, barrier islands and reef formations effectively walled off the system of lagoons from the ocean, and the river was formed. This unusual geologic past explains why a river of this size can form with such little drop in elevation from source to mouth.

The river's original name was "Welaka", meaning "River of Lakes", a clear reference to it's lake-like appearance in many places. When the Spanish controlled Florida, they called it "Rio de Corrientes" or "River of Currents".

In 1578, a Catholic mission named "San Juan del Puerto" was founded near the mouth, and the river took on the name "Rio de San Juan". This name was translated into English as the "St. Johns River".


Attractions

Heading south (from Georgetown Marina)...

  • Lake George - Florida's third largest lake (after Okechobe and Apopka) is large enough that you can see a horizon from Georgetown. Summer storms can be rough on the lake, but they never last long.
  • Silver Glen - The hands-down most popular destination for the River Adventures fleet. These natural springs are home to indian mounds, hiking trails, 72 degree crystal clear water, and during holidays, drunken revelry. The actual springs area is always family safe.


An old chart of the St Johns River, taken from the 1876 edition of Whitneys Florida Pathfinder

Heading north (from Georgetown Marina)...

  • Seven Sisters - An absolutely beautiful archipelago, and a popular anchorage spot. Also home to Hermit's Cove, a favorite stop for the River Adventures crew.
  • Oklawaha River - A very senic river, with great fishing. The river leads to the Rodman Dam and is not houseboat friendly. Small boats only, but worth the trip.
  • Buffalo Bluff Sand Bar - Just around the bend before the railroad bridge, the Sand Bar is a popular summer spot. Tricky channel marker placement makes getting stuck in the sand bar a real danger.
  • Crescent Lake - Although not part of the St. Johns river, this is another peaceful lake with good fishing.
  • Corkey Bells - A recent addition to the riverfront, Corkey Bells is a well-known family friendly place with live outdoor music and great food.
  • Palatka City Dock - Within walking distance of the attractions of downtown Palatka, including Steamboat Willies and Peabody's.

Marinas

Marina Location Contact Fuel Pumpout Supplies Notes
Crystal Cove Marina Palatka (386)325-1055
Website
Yes Yes ($20) Beer, water, chips.  
Acosta Creek Welaka   No No No  
Georgetown Georgetown(!) 386-467-2002 Yes Yes Beer, water, chips River Adventures home port!

Anchorages

  • Seven Sisters Islands
  • Little Lake George
  • Dryten Island/Lake George
  • Silver Glen

 



River Adventures Houseboat Rental Company
St. Johns River - Georgetown, Florida

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