While gatekeepers at the flooded and closed Ginnie Springs park were turning visitors away on Wednesday, land management specialist Rachel Townsend was attaching laminated “closed due to flooding” signs onto the gates at Rock Bluff Springs.
The springs are linked to two different rivers—Ginnie Springs to the Santa Fe River and Rock Bluff Springs to the Suwannee River—but they both had the same reasons for closing: flooding and browned-out springs.
The National Weather Service (NWS) reported that the Santa Fe River had risen to a crest of 20.2 feet on Wednesday afternoon. The river’s flood stage level is 17 feet.
The Suwannee River was already on its way down, according to reports from the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) on Wednesday. That river level at Rock Bluff near Bell was at 15.87 feet and under the 17-foot flood stage.
“The spring is completely browned out, the road is flooded and it’s eroded, so the water is rushing down the hill to the spring,” Townsend said while locking the metal gates at Rock Bluff.
She said the park will remain closed to vehicles, but the spring is accessible from the river by boat or kayak.
“We’re closed until the water is off the road and they can fix it up a little bit,” Townsend said.
At Ginnie Springs, cars were still pulling up to the entrance despite the announcements on social media and bright yellow “PARK CLOSED” signs.
According to one staff member, the floods are throughout the park and bathroom facilities, preventing toilets from flushing properly.
At Sante Fe Park near the Highway 47 bridge where Anderson’s Outdoor Adventures is headquartered, there is no sign of a boat ramp and the picnic pavilions are several feet under reddish-brown water saturated with tannins.
The gates out front are locked and vehicles arriving with kayaks on trailers end up making a u-turn and looking for another spot to launch.
In Gilchrist County, Fanning Springs State Park is also closed to swimming. The springs level has risen above the benches near the ramp entrance to the water and that water is a murky green with algae growth.
Most parks state they have no opening date set yet—and won’t until the waters recede.
According to Ginnie Springs’ official Facebook page, the park is trying to contact customers with camping reservations.
“We will post more information about further closures and/or reopening date as soon as we can,” the statement said. “Our reopening date depends on when the flood water recedes, unfortunately, we cannot predict exactly when this will happen.”