This 2,600 plus acre Florida state park is home to the St. Johns Rivers largest freshwater spring. During the months of November through March, the spring and spring run are closed as the West Indian Manatee frequent their wintering grounds and forage on the lush vegetation and thrive in the 72 degree year round waters to keep warm from the Atlantic Oceans cooling waters.
Pre-Colombian natives frequented this are for thousands of years prior to European settlers arriving. Many midden and shell mounds remain throughout the area as a testament to the fertile land that once belonged to the native Timuctuan peoples. By the time the great American Naturalist and Botanist William Bartram arrived at this first magnitude spring in 1776, many of the inhabitants had vanished, presumably from Spanish conquests and disease.
Over one hundred years later in 1856, Louis Thursby and his family moved to the area. They built a home near the springs in 1872, which still remains. This gold prospector turned orange farmer used the areas natural deep water port as a host to the many steamboats that plied the waters of the St. Johns River. Prior to any railroad in the area, his shipping port was the hub of activity for tourists, goods and of course, his oranges to and from Jacksonville and beyond.
While in the past the area was a hotbed of activity, today’s activity in the area is limited to tourists and the manatee. Although the area is closed during manatee season, it comes alive with people during the summer months.
Snorkeling, scuba diving and swimming in the crystal clear waters of Blue Spring State Park are one of the most popular activities in the park. Get here early; if not you may be refused entrance as the parks limit of people fills up fast. Divers must have a partner and present certification upon arrival.
Staying overnight at Blue Spring State Park is a treat. Luxury cabins complete with fireplace, kitchen and bedrooms make this state park feel like a first class hotel. A full facility, 51 site campgrounds offer some of the best camping in the state. Picnic table, electricity, water, sewer and grill are just a few of the amenities available at Blue Spring State Park. They even have a bedtime story camp lender library of books for children aged four to nine for the perfect end to a perfect day.
For more information on park directions, fees and other amenities, visit the Blue Springs State Park website here.