Blue Spring State Park is a triple crown winner:
- It’s a first magnitude spring, meaning it discharges more than 100 cubic feet of water per second (about 64.6 million gallons/day). In fact, Blue Spring discharges about 165 million gallons/day!
- It’s the largest spring feeding the St. Johns River, Florida’s longest river and a Natural Wonder in itself.
- It’s a crown jewel in the Florida State Park system — the only state park system in the country to be awarded a National Gold Medal 3 times. No other state has even won it twice.
The clear, constant 73-degree water is enjoyed by humans and wildlife alike from March 16th through November 14th each year. Through the rest of the cool season it’s a manatee refuge — one of the largest such refuges, accommodating well over 300 manatees through the cooler months when the St. Johns River dips into the the mid-60s and below. Even though the spring and the spring run are closed during the cool season, Blue Spring State Park is also nestled up against the St. Johns River. Access to the river for paddle sports is year round and pontoon boat tours are available on-site through Discover Florida Excursion Ecotours. Birds, turtles, manatees and alligators are plentiful along the St. Johns River year-round.
During the warmer months the lower portion of the roughly 1,000 foot long spring run is open to paddle sports, while the upper spring run and the spring itself are reserved for swimmers, snorkelers and certified scuba divers. Scuba divers must have a partner. Several divers have lost their lives. Even a curious manatee got trapped in a crevice and perished. Venturing 80 or 90 feet down the cave shaft brings divers to a larger opening, or room, but not far past that the cave walls close in and the water pressure increases significantly.
This 2,600+ acre park also offers several picnic areas, concessions (including a small restaurant that makes a great BLT sandwich, by the way), a playground for the kiddies, camping facilities, cabins, an awesome boardwalk leading to the spring and another short trail called the Pine Island Trail. This land was once owned by Louis Thursby, who’s house still remains and is open to visitors. If you love the Florida outdoors, this is a great place to visit — and an incredible bargain, at that. How many truly wondrous places can you & a carload of friends visit for under $10? A word to the wise: Get there early, especially during manatee season and always on weekends…this is a very popular park.
Map Courtesy of Blue Spring State Park
Orange City, Florida 32763
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