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Santa Fe Lake

Santa Fe lake


Santa Fe Lake is a 5,850-acre lake located in northeastern Alachua County, Florida. It forms the headwaters of the Santa Fe River, exiting from Little Santa Fe Lake and emptying into the Suwannee River. It is one of the largest and most stable lakes in Florida.

Santa Fe Lake is the third most stable lake in Florida, as well as one of the clearest. It is designated by the State of Florida as an Outstanding Florida Water. It is supported by water flowing in at the southern extremity of the intermediate aquifer that outcrops the lake bottom. Also, it is a rather deep example of a karstic lake, with several spots that are 30 feet or more.

Santa Fe Lake was the largest of a series of lakes that were connected by dredging canals in the 1870s and 1880s so that boats could travel between Melrose, Florida, and Waldo, the railroad terminal. Santa Fe Canal was dredged from Little Santa Fe Lake into Lake Alto. Water and railroad were the major means of transportation for passengers and freight across Florida at that time. The first boat that made the journey through the canal system was the “Fannie S. Lewis” in 1880, and the last was the “City of Melrose” in 1925. Improved roads and the automobile doomed the era of steamships in Alachua County and the canals fell into disuse.

The rural unincorporated communities of Melrose and Earleton are located on the lake. North of the lakes is Santa Fe Swamp, mostly a wildlife and environmental conservation area managed by the Suwannee River Water Management District…Wikipedia

Santa Fe Lake Boating Map
Santa Fe Lake Boating Map

 Santa Fe Lake Notes

Icon Launches smBoat Ramp:

Santa Fe Lake Park & Boat Ramp

Nice launch, double concrete, with a firm,  sandy bottom. There is a floating dock between the two ramps. Ample parking, but often crowded in the morning and on weekends.

The ramp is located on a canal, which leads to the lake a little over 1/4 mile to the North.

There is no fee and there are restrooms.

Little Santa Fe Lake Boat Ramp

An adequate, double ramp to launch, no fee, however very limited parking. Many vehicles with trailers are parked along the roadside which can be difficult to maneuver.

icon-distance-smDistance: Navigating the perimeter of all three sections is roughly 16 miles. The distance, from entering the lake from the southern launch at Santa Fe Park, north to the pass between Santa Fe Lake and Little Santa Fe Lake is 3.4 miles.


icon-width-depth-smWidth and Depth:

  • Santa Fe Lake is 3.25 miles wide x 3.5 miles long.
    Depth: Approximately 25 feet deep
  • Little Lake Santa Fe is 1.6 miles x 1.6 miles
    Depth: Approximately 20 feet deep
  • Melrose Bay is 0.3 miles x 0.25 miles
    Depth: Approximately 20 feet deep

icon-current-tidal-smCurrent – Tidal: Tides are not applicable and there is a current, of approximately mph.


icon-time-duration-smAverage Boating Speed: There are several ‘No-Wake’ zones but also several sections that we took it up to 15 mph


icon-restrooms-smRest Areas: Not much

Additional Notes:

  • This lake offers up wonderful sunsets & fireworks show from the surrounding towns!
  • With this being a large lake, the wind can easily pick up and create quite choppy water!

A Santa Fe Lake Photo Gallery

Guides, Maps & Info…

Crystal River | Homosassa River | Intercoastal Waterway | Lake Kerr | Lake Lochloosa | Pellicer Creek | Salt Springs | Santa Fe Lake | Silver Glen Springs | The Cedar Keys | The Ocklawaha River | The St Johns River | The Santa Fe River | The Silver River | The Suwannee River | The Rainbow River | Withlacoochee River

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