HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The Santa Fe Canoe Outpost is once again open for business—and pleasure. The City of High Springs bought the property in August 2021 from owners Jim and Sally Wood, who had been running the business for some 31 years. During that time the Outpost became a popular spot to launch trips on the river for both locals and tourists.
High Springs agreed to purchase the business for $600,000 and also to make upgrades to the property, bringing the total to $750,000. While the city had purchased the Outpost to preserve the land and keep river access available to the public, they did not have the staff and services to manage the operation. “We may have some limited hours here and there,” said High Springs spokesperson Kevin Mangan. “There might be a few days that when traditionally the canoe outpost was open for business, that it may not be in the interim. It’s a process and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way.”
Mangan says the daily management of the Outpost will be a team effort between the High Springs Parks and Recreation staff and Anderson’s Outdoor Adventures (AOA). “AOA is currently handling rentals for Poe Springs Park, among others, and will handle a majority of the operations for the Outpost,” said Mangan. “The name ‘Santa Fe Canoe Outpost’ lives on and we keep that spirit alive.”
The City earlier issued bids for a management services firm with extensive experience in the local environment and materials to keep the canoe business going. Anderson's Outdoor Adventures run by Paul Spiller and Charles Anderson was selected to run the operation.
Both men are veterans with Spiller serving eight years in the Marines and Anderson serving in the Air Force. Both men are Florida natives, growing up in the rural areas around Melbourne, and have known each other since their teens.
Spiller and his wife moved to rural Virginia after military service and Anderson had started a business providing services and management for state and regional parks. The Spillers moved back to Florida, and in 2012 along with Anderson, they formed Anderson Outdoor Adventures. The company provides services including food, building and campground maintenance, canoe and kayak rentals, and trip packages. Within a year they were awarded service contracts for Manatee and Fanning Springs.
In 2015, they expanded their services to included transportation for drop offs and pickups at various parks and they were awarded contracts with the state, including Hart Springs, Santa Fe River Park, Gilchrist Blue Springs and Poe Springs. In addition to on-site services, they expanded their business to include pontoon rentals, golf cart rentals, RV rentals, camping equipment rentals, guided river tours and transportation services.
“Both Charles and my family have always been outdoors orientated, growing up fishing, hunting and hiking, canoeing and outdoor living,” said Spiller. “We are conservationists who want to preserve Florida's natural environment while helping others experience our unique land and recreation on the rivers while preserving it for future generations.”
Spiller says they want to maintain the historic feel at Santa Fe Canoe Outpost while updating facilities such as the boardwalk and parking. “Our motto is ‘Adventure today, memories forever,’” said Spiller.
The Santa Fe Canoe Outpost is located at 21410 U.S. Highway 441, High Springs, FL 32643 and is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information and pricing on various services and canoe trips can be found at aoafun.com or by calling 352-507-0059.
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