If you are looking for a place to retreat, relax in nature, and enjoy some amazing wildlife encounters, look no further than Blue Springs State Park Florida. This park is located west of Orange City, Florida, and is one of the largest winter gathering sites for manatees in the state. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about this hidden gem in Central Florida, including:
- What makes Blue Springs State Park so special
- What activities you can do at the park
- How to plan your visit and make the most of your experience
What makes Blue Springs State Park so special
Blue Springs State Park is home to a first-magnitude spring, meaning that it produces millions of gallons of water per day. During the winter, this spring is at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, it is a refuge for manatees and home to 15 threatened or endangered plants and animals.
Manatees are gentle marine mammals that are endangered due to habitat loss, boat collisions, and other threats. They are also known as “sea cows” because they graze on aquatic plants.
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Hundreds of manatees gather to the spring run, which is a recognized manatee sanctuary, from mid-November to March. Visitors may witness these incredible creatures from the run’s boardwalks and observation platforms. On the park’s website, you can also view live video feeds from underwater cameras during these months as well. The park staff and volunteers conduct daily manatee counts and provide educational programs about manatee conservation.
Besides manatees, the park is also home to a variety of other wildlife, such as fish, turtles, alligators, otters, birds, and more. You can see them in their natural habitats along the spring run or on the 3.6-mile Pine Island Trail. You can also learn about the history and culture of the park at the Thursby House, a historic home built in 1872 that is now used as a museum.
What activities you can do at Blue Springs
There is something for everyone at Blue Springs State Park. You may choose from a variety of activities to fit your tastes, whether you want to unwind, explore, or have fun. Here are some of the activities you can do at the park:
You can cool off in the refreshing spring water at the designated swimming area. The water is clear and clean. As this is a park and not a pool, expect to see fish and wildlife. However, keep in mind that swimming and diving with the manatees is not permitted.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
You can get a closer look at the native underwater habitat by snorkeling or scuba diving in the spring. You will need to bring your own equipment and follow the park rules.
You can float down the spring run on a tube and enjoy the scenery and wildlife along the way. You can bring your own tube, no larger than 6 ft. by 6ft., or rent one from Blue Springs Adventures at the park.
Paddling at Blue Springs State Park entails using a canoe or kayak to explore either the St. Johns River or the spring run. You may bring your own or rent from Blue Springs Adventures during your time in the park.
Guided boat tours on the St. Johns River are offered where you can learn about history, ecology, and fauna of the area. These tours are run by Blue Springs Adventures and run for about 2 hours at a time throughout the day. Reservations are not required but are recommended.
While at Blue Springs State Park, you can try catching some fish in the St. Johns River. However, before you cast your fishing rod, know that you will need a valid Florida fishing license and to follow the state regulations for freshwater fishing.
You can spend a night or more at one of the park’s campsites or cabins. The campgrounds have access to water, electricity, picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. Each cabin has air conditioning, heating, kitchen, bathroom, and porch. Reservations for both campsites and cabins must be made in advance, either online or by phone.
How to plan your visit and make the most of your experience
Blue Spring State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk. The park admission fee is $6 per vehicle (two to eight people), $4 per single-occupant vehicle, or $2 per pedestrian, bicyclist, or extra passenger. There are camping and cabin fees as well if you plan on staying on the property. The address is 2100 W. French Ave., Orange City, FL 32763. You can get directions from the park’s website or by clicking on the map below.
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To make the most of your visit, here are some tips and recommendations:
- Check the park’s website or call ahead for updates on park conditions, closures, and events.
- Arrive early to make it into the park as it closes admissions once it reaches capacity.
- Bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a bathing suit, bug repellent, water, and snacks, as well as comfortable clothing and shoes.
- Respect the wildlife and their habitats, and do not feed, touch, or harass them.
- Follow the park rules and regulations, and dispose of your trash properly.
- Have fun and enjoy the beauty and wonder of Blue Springs State Park Florida.
If you are seeking more information about this park check out www.floridastateparks.org.
Directions to Blue Springs State Park
We hope this article has inspired you to visit Blue Springs State Park and discover its many attractions and activities. For visitors of all ages and interests, this park in Central Florida truly is a hidden gem that provides a special and unforgettable experience. Whether you want to see manatees, swim in the spring, hike on the trail, or just relax in nature, you will find something to love at Blue Springs State Park Florida. Enjoy!