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O’Leno State Park and River Rise Preserve

May 15, 2020 by Corey A Edwards

O'Leno State Park River Sink

The Santa Fe River Sink at O’Leno State Park

Looking to get out, away from the crowds, and soak up some of Florida’s natural beauty? O’Leno State Park and the nearby River Rise Preserve offer hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, sinkholes, and even an underground river!

O’Leno State Park has the distinction of being one of Florida’s first state parks, developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The park is located along the banks of the Santa Fe River, about 45 minutes west of our north Florida inn, Hampton Lake Bed and Breakfast.

Interestingly, the Santa Fe River disappears underground into the Bellamy Cave system as it passes through the park. The river flows through limestone passages, some 140 feet below ground, before reemerging three miles away in River Rise Preserve State Park.

The River Sink, where the Santa Fe disappears below ground, is located about a half mile downstream from O’Leno State Park’s main parking area. When river levels are low, the sink resembles a simple pond. When water levels are high, however, the sink swirls down and around in a counter clockwise direction.

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