This National Historic Landmark is located off of US 19 in Crystal River, Florida and contains one of the areas most substantial Native American Pre-Columbian burial mounds in the entire United States. This 61-acre 1,600 year old Native American complex served as an important cultural and trading location for Florida’s earliest inhabitants.
This important early religious site was regularly used for ceremonies and burials by Native Americans from far and wide. Many natives traveled for hundred of miles to bury and mourn the dead, worship strange deities on top of the huge mounds and trade amongst one another at the lively open air plaza.
While as many as 7,500 people may have inhabited this site thousands of years ago, today’s inhabitant include a handful of locals, a park ranger and the myriad of wildlife that has lived here for thousands of years longer. A small museum is located on the grounds as well.
Inside the artifact laden museum are countless materials used by the ancient natives. They are reconstructed to show how this mound culture thrived so many years ago in many unique displays and dioramas. A gift shop and restroom are also located in this building.
Around the rest of this 61-acre state park are the mounds. Several mounds abound on the property and a self guided interpretive trail walks you through each one. The largest temple mound is topped by stairs and an observation deck, allowing you to climb to the top and look out over Crystal River, just like the early priests of ancient times.
Much of the site has changed over time, with recent activity to remove vegetation that covers many of these historical mounds and edifices. This was done for archaeological surveys and research using remote sensing equipment, to see what’s underground, without actually disturbing the site.
The park itself is open from 8 am until sundown, allowing many of the people who come and visit Crystal River Archaeological State Park to fish from the seawall and boat ramp. The visitor center/museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm. It is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Fees range from $3 a vehicle to $2 an individual. For more information on this historical state park, visit Crystal River Archaeological State Parks Official Website.