Chiefland Chamber of Commerce Chiefland Chamber of Commerce

Explore By Water





What better way to spend a warm, sunny Florida day than boating through some of the state’s most beautiful waterways? The Suwannee River flows just minutes away from Chiefland and provides a great boating opportunity for water-lovers. Boats of just about any size, from a jet ski to pontoon boat, can traverse this immaculate river.

River depths range from 7 feet to 55 feet. Take in the magnificent, pristine natural scenery: marshes, majestic cypress and tidally flooded hardwood forests.

Be sure to visit Manatee Springs and utilize their boat ramps, located just outside the park. Boat on up the river to Fanning Springs next for a refreshing swim in the spring. There is a variety of boat ramps in the area both saltwater and freshwater. Watch for Manatees here, the gentle, vegetarian marine mammals, apple snails, and salamanders. For only a small fee you may tie your boat or canoe up and enjoy a dip in the crystal clean spring.

Boating Safety Guidelines:

  • Always let someone know where you’re going and expected return time.
  • Observe the speed zones established for manatee safety.
  • Always try to stay on established channels; watch your depth and running speed to avoid prop dredging and/or sea grass damage.
  • Always be aware of tides and weather.
  • Use caution in high-use areas and be aware of what’s going on around you.
  • Never launch a boat before checking equipment, lifesaving devices, and navigational/communication aids.
  • Do not consume alcohol or drugs while operating a boat.
  • Observe operational and boating right-of-way rules (Take a Boater’s Safety Course for information).
  • Minimize your wake near shorelines and other boats: waves erode shorelines and stir sediment that impairs sea grass growth/survival.
  • Never empty bilge water, holding tank waste, and fuels/oils into waterways.
  • Always clear your boat, motor, and props of vegetation to avoid spreading hydrilla, hyacinths, and other nuisance    plants into other water bodies.
  • Do Not Litter. Bring a trash bag with you and recycle whenever possible.

For an even greater natural experience, rent a canoe or kayak to travel up and down the Suwannee River, and through Manatee Springs and Fanning Springs. Explore where other boaters cannot, down the more narrow channels and tributaries and witness Nature in all her tranquility. Follow these safety guidelines to make the most of this experience:

  • Always let someone know where you’re going and expected return time.
  • Never launch your canoe before checking flotation gear, paddles, bow and stern lines, first-aid kit, and map.
  • Be aware of weather, tides, and river conditions.
  • Secure food, drinking water, and gear in watertight containers in the canoe.
  • Respect the privacy and property of others. Obtain permission for entry on private lands, and public lands when    required.
  • Figure on 2 miles per hour paddling time under normal conditions. Know your limitations.
  • Watch for motorboats. Stay to the right and turn the bow into the wake.
  • Watch for overhanging branches, submerged stumps, and other obstructions.
  • Do Not Litter. Bring a trash bag with you and recycle whenever possible.

Back To Top


Chiefland and its surrounding towns are ideal for fishing. Take your pick from state parks, the Suwannee River, or the Gulf of Mexico to satisfy your hunger for the sport. The Suwannee River abounds with great freshwater fishing. Largemouth bass, redear sunfish, channel catfish, bluegill, and Suwannee bass all glide through the river’s gentle waters and creeks. Boaters can use ramps at Fowler’s Bluff or Manatee Springs. For those wishing to stick close to land, Andrews Wildlife Management Area provides a nice area for visitors to fish along the riverbank. Lake Rousseau is another great freshwater fishing spot. The lake encompasses nearly 3,700 acres, and was created by the Inglis Dam on the Withlacoochee River. Catfish, black crappie, redear sunfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass bite here and offer an afternoon of exciting fishing.

For saltwater fishermen, Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge offers great fishing opportunities. Since the area is heavily dependent on its fishing industry, one should have no problem hooking speckled seatrout, sheepshead, mullet, or redfish in these waters. There are also guides who will bring you to their own favorite fishing spots. Fish along the many island beaches, as well as Atsen Otie Key, or Shell Mound. There are numerous places around Cedar Key that offer boat rentals, guides, and charters. Wherever you set anchor, you’re sure to embark on an excellent fishing adventure.

At the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, visitors can fish in the park’s coastal waters year-round. Gain boat access from a number of places, including Cedar Key, Shell Mound, and even within the Dixie County boundary of the park.

Expect great fishing, no matter where you decide to cast your reel…and that’s no fish story!

For more information about:
Manatee Springs, call (352) 493-6072
Andrews Wildlife Management Area, call (352) 493-6020 or (386) 758-0525
Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge, call (352) 493-0238
Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, call (352) 493-0238
Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club
FLA USA Fishing

Back To Top


One of the best ways to enjoy Florida’s natural beauty is spending time in its waters! The Chiefland area is home to some of the most beautiful and pure springs in the state.

At Manatee Springs, certified divers may participate in open water, cave, and cavern diving. Those without a permit can still enjoy the spring by snorkeling, getting just as close a view of the springs’ size and magnificence. Manatee Springs State park offers full facility camping the park has a 94-site campground with electricity and water in each site. These sites are available for tent or RV use. There are comfort stations centrally located in each of the loops. Comfort stations provide hot showers, toilets and sink facilities. Sites 26-39 and site number 48 are for tent camping only. Located in the Magnolia 1 camping area, these sites allow park visitors to camp in a more rustic setting. Pets are allowed in all camping areas. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance for camping by calling Reserve America at 1-800-326-3521. Scuba divers must present their certification upon registration. Open water, cavern and cave diving is available in Manatee Spring or Catfish Hotel Sink. Dive instructors are required to purchase a Commercial Dive Permit. The fee for spring diving, open water, and cave diving is $10.00 plus tax. All divers are required to register with the office prior to diving. The park also offers a youth camping area, organized groups of six or more can camp in the Primitive Youth Camp Area. These facilities offer drinking water and an outdoor shower. These areas are reserved for non-profit, organized groups.

At Fanning Springs, visitors can enjoy a 20-foot deep basin fed by two springs, Big Fanning and Little Fanning. The springs are about 200 feet wide and 350 feet long, with a vent in the southeast wall nearly 30 feet in diameter. For a small fee, visitors can actually dive in the springs, although they are mostly used for certification dives for local dive shops.

A short drive away, in Williston, the Blue Grotto offers one of the safest and most enjoyable cavern diving experiences in the state. The commercially operated park has perfectly clear waters, and the inside of the cavern has even been fitted with a guide rope to ensure divers’ safety.

The Devil’s Den Resort and Springs offers visitors a unique diving experience. Hidden nearly 60 feet below ground, the cavern pool extends another 20 to 60 feet in depth. Snorkeling is not permitted here at Devil’s Den, but certified divers are welcome to enjoy the flawlessly clear, 72-degree water. Full dive shop and equipment rentals are available, as well as air fills.

There are so many beautiful springs, caverns, and caves for diving and snorkeling, so be sure to explore these local natural wonders.

For more information about:
Manatee Springs State Park, call (352) 493-6072
Fanning Springs State Park, call (352) 463-4520
Devil’s Den Resort and Springs, call (352) 528-3344
Blue Grotto, call (352) 528-5770

Back To Top