Discover the 15 Largest Rivers in Florida

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Updated: March 28, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Robert DelVecchio - OcuDrone
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Florida is the furthest southeastern state in the United States of America. The Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean border the Florida peninsula. The state of Florida has about 25,949 miles of rivers, yet just 49.2 miles of rivers are designated as wild and scenic (about .2% of the state’s total). Which rivers are the 15 largest rivers in Florida? What are these rivers like? What types of wildlife live in these unique bodies of water? Let’s take a look at the 15 largest rivers in Florida.

Rivers in Florida

Rivers provide fresh water to both wildlife and humans.

Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock.com

A river is a body of water that moves and flows into a larger body of water like a lake, sea, or ocean. Rivers act like the veins in our body, moving water and nutrients through ecosystems. Because of this, there is often an abundance of spectacular wildlife and amazing scenery in and around rivers.

As we look at the largest rivers in Florida, we are measuring their size based on length rather than measuring their depth or discharge amounts. So, let’s look at some of these incredible rivers and ecosystems.

15. Aucilla River – 89 miles

aucilla river
Parts of the Aucilla River flow below ground.

BeckyM51212/Shutterstock.com

Aucilla River
Length89 Miles
Ending PointGulf of Mexico

The Aucilla River is 89 miles long, beginning in Brooks County, Georgia. It flows through the Big Bend region of Florida until it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The Aucilla River is both wild and picturesque, with large tree canopies covering banks of limestone.

There are several underground drainage systems, sinkholes, and caves beneath the Aucilla River. Because of this, the river often disappears underground in places, flowing beneath the ground before returning to the surface again.

14. Chipola River – 92.5 miles

chipola river
The Chipola River passes through the Dead Lakes State Recreation Area.

Johnsonw/Shutterstock.com

Chipola River
Length92.5 Miles
Ending PointApalachicola River

The Chipola River is 92.5 miles long, flowing through northwest Florida. It is fed by sixty-three freshwater springs. The Chipola River flows through the Dead Lakes State Recreation Area. Flooding once killed thousands of trees in the floodplain areas of the Chipola River. Today, dead stumps of the destroyed cypress trees stand guard, giving it an otherworldly appearance as the clear water of the Chipola River flows past.

13. Peace River – 106 miles

peace river
Peace River has a gentle and peaceful flow, just like its name.

Jim Schwabel/Shutterstock.com

Peace River
Length106 Miles
Ending PointSlave River

The Peace River is 106 miles long. It begins northeast of Bartow, Florida, and flows south to Punta Gorda at Charlotte Harbor on the Gulf of Mexico. As its name suggests, the Peace River has a gentle flow which makes paddling and canoeing easy.

This river is an excellent place for fossil hunting. The slow, gentle flow of the river helps to keep the fossils well preserved. Fossils from the Pleistocene and Miocene eras, as well as more recent times, are common in the area, like shark teeth, mammoths, bison, alligators, and mastodons.

12.      Indian River – 121 miles

indian river lagoon
The Indian River is a habitat with many wetlands and marshes.

Phillip Sunkel IV/Shutterstock.com

Indian River
Length121 Miles
Ending PointSt. Lucie Inlet

The Indian River is not a traditional river by definition. However, it is certainly an important waterway in the state of Florida. The Indian River is a 121-mile brackish lagoon where saltwater from the ocean and freshwater streams mix together. It is one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America.

The Indian River is filled with mangrove wetlands and salt marshes. It provides the perfect habitat for a variety of wildlife. The lagoon is home to 2,200 different animal species, including 685 species of fish and 270 species of birds. Loggerhead sea turtles, green sea turtles, and leatherback sea turtles live along the banks of the Indian River. Manatees swim within its clear waters.

11. St. Marys River – 126 miles

Longest Florida Rivers - St Marys River
St. Mary’s River is home to many animals, including alligators. In the photo above, you can see it entering the Atlantic.

Nadezda Murmakova/Shutterstock.com

St. Marys River
Length126 Miles
Ending PointAtlantic Ocean

St. Marys River is 126 miles long and forms the easternmost border between Georgia and Florida. It begins in the Okefenokee Swamp and ends in the Atlantic Ocean. St. Marys River is a remote blackwater stream with an extensive marsh system.

The St. Marys River Basin is home to an abundance of wildlife. There are many animals here, like alligators, deer, beavers, otters, turkey and ribbon snakes, and gopher tortoises. Around the middle section of the river there are also bobcats, red-cockaded woodpeckers, panthers, and bears.

10. Kissimmee River – 134 miles

The Kissimmee River forms part of the Everglades wetlands in Florida. The Everglades is the biggest tropical wilderness in the U.S.

iStock.com/Robert DelVecchio – OcuDrone

Kissimmee River
Length134 Miles
Ending PointLake Okeechobee

The Kissimmee River is 134 miles long and forms part of the Everglades wetlands area in Florida. The river originates in East Lake Tohopekaliga in south-central Florida, then flows south through Lake Kissimmee and into Lake Okeechobee. The river was channelized due to flooding, but this made pollution worse and diminished the wetland habitat.

In the 1990s, restoration efforts began and are continuing today. The restoration of the Kissimmee River is the largest true ecosystem restoration project in the world. It has proven very successful. Many of the once lost wildlife have now returned to the river.

9. Withlacoochee River – 141 miles

withlacoochee river
The Withlacoochee River is home to a variety of wildlife, including ospreys.

Essence of a Memory/Shutterstock.com

Withlacoochee River
Length141 Miles
Ending PointGulf of Mexico

The Withlacoochee River starts in the Green Swamp, east of Polk City in Florida. It then flows for 141 miles, twisting and turning until it empties into the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown, Florida. The is an abundance of wildlife surrounding the Withlacoochee River, including alligators, kingfishers, ospreys, eagles, hawks, and turtles. Alongside the river is the 46-mile Withlacoochee State Trail, the longest paved state trail in the state of Florida.

8.      Choctawhatchee River – 141 miles

choctawhatchee river
The Choctawhatchee River has one endemic aquatic snail and two freshwater mussel species.

Phillip W. Kirkland/Shutterstock.com

Choctawhatchee River
Length141 Miles
Ending PointChoctawhatchee Bay

The Choctawhatchee River is 141 miles long, starting in southeastern Alabama. It flows through the Panhandle of Florida until it empties into Choctawhatchee Bay. There is less industrial activity in this area. As a result, the Choctawhatchee River is much cleaner than many other rivers in Florida.

A rich collection of wildlife lives in the Choctawhatchee River. Animals like sunfish, spotted bass, carp suckers, redhorse suckers, channel catfish, and gulf sturgeon live in its waters. There are also 21 aquatic snails and mussel species found here. In fact, one of these aquatic species of snail is only found in the Choctawhatchee River. Two of these mussel species are also only found in the Choctawhatchee River.

7.      Pea River – 154 miles

Pea River
Length154 Miles
Ending PointChoctawhatchee River

The Pea River gets its name due to the “pea green” color of its water. The Muscogee name for the Pea River is Talakhatchee, meaning “pea green stream.” The Pea River begins near the town of Midway in Bullock County, Alabama. After flowing south, it dips into Florida for a bit, then joins the Choctawhatchee River back in Alabama.

6.      Alapaha River – 202 miles

Longest Rivers in Florida - Alapaha River
The Alapaha River is an intermittent river. Sections of the Alapaha River flow underground before it meets the Suwannee.

Nolichuckyjake/Shutterstock.com

Alapaha River
Length202 Miles
Ending PointSuwannee River

The Alapaha River is 202 miles long, flowing from southern Georgia into northern Florida. Along its journey, portions of the Alapaha River disappear! This is because the Alapaha River is an intermittent river. This means that when the water flow is low, sections of the river disappear underground and become a subterranean river. At times there can be up to 11 miles of the dry bank above ground while the water of the Alapaha River continues to flow below ground.

5.      Ochlockonee River – 206 miles

Longest Rivers in Florida - Ochlockonee River
The Ochlockonee River gets its name from the Hitchiti words for yellow river.

Fsendek/Shutterstock.com

Ochlockonee River
Length206 Miles
Ending PointGulf of Mexico

The Ochlockonee River is a fast-running river that starts in Georgia. It flows for 206 miles until it ends in Florida. The Ochlockonee River is unique because it is influenced by tides. It is also a mix of freshwater, brackish water, and saltwater.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission designated the Ochlockonee River as a strategic habitat conservation area. This means there are many rare and threatened species in the Ochlockonee River, including the Apalachicola dusky salamander, least tern, and red-cockaded woodpecker. There are many rare freshwater mussels in the Ochlockonee River. Three of these freshwater mussels are endangered: the oval pigtoe, the shinyrayed pocketbook, and Ohlockonee moccasinshell.

4.      Suwannee River – 246 miles

Rivers in Florida - Suwannee River
The Suwannee River has a high water quality. The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the high water quality of the river.

Kevin Barry Photography/Shutterstock.com

Suwannee River
Length246 Miles
Ending PointGulf of Mexico

The Suwannee River is 246 miles long, beginning in southern Georgia and flowing into Florida. It is a wild blackwater river. Visitors come here to watch wildlife, canoe, fish, hunt, and even see the remnants of a historical 19th century steamship.

3.      Escambia River / Conecuh River – 258 miles

Escambia River
Length258 Miles
Ending PointEscambia Bay

The Escambia River can be a bit confusing. This Florida River goes by two different names. In Alabama, it is known as the Conecuh River, but in Florida, it is called the Escambia River. The entire Escambia River is 258 miles long, beginning near Union Springs, Alabama. It then flows southwest into Florida and then into Escambia Bay. The Escambia River is home to 85 native freshwater species of fish. There are more different kinds of freshwater fish in the Escambia River than in any other Florida river.

2.      St. Johns River – 310 miles

St Johns River
The St. Johns River is fed primarily by the swamps and marshes lying beneath it.

WeWanderCreative/Shutterstock.com

St. Johns River
Length310 Miles
Ending PointAtlantic Ocean

The St. Johns River is the largest river in Florida that stays within the borders of Florida. St. Johns River is also the most important river in Florida for commercial and recreational use. It begins in Florida’s Brevard County and flows for 310 miles. Eventually, it meets up with the Atlantic Ocean in Duval County. St. Johns River is a blackwater stream and is often described as a “lazy river” because of its very low flow rate.

1.      Apalachicola River / Chattahoochee River – 430 miles

Apalachicola river
The Apalachicola River has many biologically diverse forests with longleaf pine, temperate deciduous trees, and flatwoods.

Carolyn Davidson Hicks/Shutterstock.com

Apalachicola River/Chattahoochee River
Length410 Miles
Ending PointFlint River/Apalachicola Bay

The Apalachicola River goes by two different names. This is because sections of the river were each given a different name by different colonial settlers. The portion of river in the state of Georgia is called the Chattahoochee River. The portion in Florida is called the Apalachicola River.

The Apalachicola River is the largest river in Florida and begins in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. It flows through Georgia and merges with the Flint River in Florida. Once the river reaches the city of Chattahoochee, its name changes to the Apalachicola River. The river continues its course through Florida until it reaches the city of Apalachicola and flows into Apalachicola Bay.

The Apalachicola is home to the endangered Florida Torreya (also known as “stinking cedar” or “gopher wood”). The Florida Torreya is a tree that grows only in this region.

Aerial View of Florida Everglades
The Everglades is the biggest tropical wilderness in the U.S.
iStock.com/Robert DelVecchio - OcuDrone
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About the Author

I have been a professional writer for 8 years with a particular focus on nature, wildlife, anthrozoology, and human-animal relationships. My areas of interest include human-animal studies, ecocriticism, vulnerable species, pets, and animal behavior. I graduated from Brigham Young University with a master’s degree in Comparative Studies, focusing on the relationship between humanity and the natural world. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring the outdoors, watching movies, reading, creating art, and caring for my pets. Nothing brings me greater joy than a day spent in the company of animals.

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