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Blue Spring State Park

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United States


Blue Spring State Park

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A 37 minute drive up north from the hustle and bustle of Orlando Florida, leads to Blue Spring State Park, precisely in Orange City, Volusia County. This spectacular location covers close to 2500 acres of immaculate landscapes, crystal blue waters, brimming with flora and wild life.

Blue Spring State Park refers to green space surrounding the Volusia Blue Spring, the biggest spring coming out of St. Johns River. The spring itself is very true to its name, as its unclouded waters are a very welcoming shade of blue. So naturally most of the activities that can be followed at the park revolve around the same spring. The spring maintains a temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. This makes makes it a sought after spot during warmer months for a fresh dip, snorkeling, diving or even kayaking.

Rainbow Springs State Park Blue Water 1600

In colder months, a visit to Blue Spring State Park is likely to result in spotting of Manatees.
These adorable aquatic creatures, migrate from the colder waters of St. John’s River to the sheltered and warmer waters of Blue Spring. Visitors can make their way around the spring by following the wooden boardwalks and observe these Manatees in their natural habitat. The Manatees are aquatic mammals which can grow up to 13 feet and to up 13,000 pounds in weight. The creatures are often referred to as sea-cows. This term can be credited to their size as well as to the fact that these slow moving creatures can often be seen grazing for food. Since 1972 these species are protected in the US by 3 different Protection Acts. The area was also featured in Underwater World of Jacques Cousteau, a documentary showing the area’s importance in the preservation of the Manatee species and how this was a contributing factor in the government’s decision to purchase the land.

The Blue Spring State Park itself goes through lengths for the environment conservation of the park and the wildlife that lives within it. Through meticulous effort and care, in 35 years the park managed to increase the population of winter migrating manatees from 14 to over 200 by 2005. In 2022 this record escalated to 724 creatures. The waters are also home to a variety of fish, alligators and turtles. While St. Johns River Fishing Dock is an ideal spot for fishing, however do keep in mind that fishing in Blue Spring is prohibited. In order to fish at St. Johns a license must be obtained and regulations regarding method of fishing and other rules must be followed. For more detailed information it is ideal to confer with the Florida Fish and Wild Life Conservation Commission’s Fishing in Florida.

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Blue Spring is also a Great Florida Birding Trail Site, home to a variety of circa 150 bird species, including kingfishers, eagles and wading birds. Hiking around the park is an ideal way to excavate the landscape as well as keep a keen eye for bird spotting, particularly the Florida scrub-jay which is endemic to the state. This naturally attracts many bird watchers to the area. In April and October visitors can even join the free ranger-guided bird walks.

The park presents miles of trails for visitors to follow moving along the River and passing through different terrain including forested landscape. The trails range from shorter to longer trails and are fit for people with different abilities. The Blue Spring Boardwalk Trail is one of the busiest trails, attracting many visitors especially ones with children. The trail follows a scenic boardwalk along a 1.6km in and out trail with 9m of elevation, the boardwalk is mostly accessible and there are barricades on either side for safety. In Winter visitors can also see Manatees from this trail. This trails is ideal for visitors looking for a self guided trail around the most popular areas of the park.

The Pine Island Trail is another popular in and out trail, moving along different landscapes from drier desert land to greener paths along St. Johns River. At 7.9km with 45m of elevation it is considered a moderately challenging trail, especially as part of the trail involves walking on dry sand that sinks as you walk over it in hotter months, in winter or following rainfall the sand can turn into mud making it even more messy. The Blue Spring Campground Trail is a short 2.6km easy trail leading from the campground to the waters, lucky hikers have also spotted manatees at times. The Blue Spring Run Paddle trail is rated as mostly easy, it is a nature trail frequented by visitors who want to explore the waters with kayaks, therefore it can get super busy in summer. However it is also worth hiking in winter when nature and wildlife is at its peak.

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Blue Spring State Park is also open to divers from sunrise to 5pm as long as they dive with a buddy for safety and are in possession of certification. This is even more important when it comes to cave diving. In the case of free diving, divers can descend till 50 feet, similarly 50 feet must be kept between all divers and manatees. Visitors can also opt to join one of the guided underwater tours and learn more about the aquatic life, or just snorkel their way around the area. In order to protect the West Indian Manatee all water sport activities including boating, and swimming related activities are banned in winter. However in Winter visitors can still enjoy the waters by going on boat tours or by exploring the waters of St. Johns River on canoes and kayaks. Visitors can launch their own sea vessels or even rent them out at the park. Tours and Cruises along St. Johns River are available daily from 10am to 1pm, the cruise explores the area’s ecology, history and nature. To avoid disappointment pre-booking is highly recommended.

The area has ample camping possibilities, there are 51 campsites to be exact many of which few meters away from the spring. All sites are equipped with power, water, grills, tables and a dump station is also available within the park. There are bathhouses also installed with showers and bathroom stalls for campsite use. Camping Visitors must pay $24 a night, this does not include the $6.70 fee for reservation. In the case of RV camping, maximum length is 40 feet, an additional utility fee of $7 is applicable, covering water and power. Concessions are made for elderly and people with disability. Late arrivals need to advise the site ahead of time, in order to receive access information and gate combinations.

If camping is your thing, you might wish consider sleeping in one of the six, two bedroom cabins, each cabin sleeps 4 and is furnished with one double bed and two single beds, However visitors may bring extra bedding and sleeping bags to sleep another two guests.
The cabins are equipped with the all the basic facilities, including bathroom facilities, linen, towels, a kitchen with stove, refrigeration and even an outdoor grill for a touch of outdoors. In winter, the cabins are also equipped with Gas fireplaces. Given that there are only 6 cabins, they do fill up quickly, however when making reservations keep in mind that a minimum number of 2 nights needs to be booked. While pets are welcome at the campsites, only guide dogs can enter the cabins. Cabins can be rented out at $95 a night, over and above the reservation and utility fees.

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The park is open all year round from 8 am to sunset, with admissions being charged at $6 per vehicle provided that there are no more than 8 people inside or in the case of a vehicle with one single occupant. Additional passengers, pedestrians and cyclists are charged at $2. The visitor center is an informative place to visit, particularly as educational exhibits are a great way to lean more about the park’s landscape, flora and history. Most activities at Blue Spring State Park are accessible to visitors with most abilities, including the boat tours, exhibits, camp sites, cabins, restrooms, fishing docs and picnic areas. Visitors can also pop by at the Manatee gift shop. Blue Spring offers two different picnic areas as well as 3 Roofed Pavilions equipped with grills which are the perfect place to host a larger group of people, however they are only available on first come first serve basis.

Apart from its pristine nature, the area also has its historical significance. Particularly as in 1870s Thursby House was built to host steamboats for the transportation of passengers along the river. Visitors can also visit the interpretive exhibits about Thursby House. While visiting in Summer has its perks, particularly when it comes to water related activities, the area also sees a surplus of visitors, resulting in long queues and on occasions the administration had to stop admissions due to the park reaching its full capacity of visitors. This can be quite disappointing, however visitors with reservations for activities within the park such as boat tours and camping will be given a pass.

While Blue Spring State Park is mostly renowned for its gorgeous crystal blue waters this park has so much more to offer. From trails and picnics, to Manatees watching in winter, and water related activities in summer this park ticks all the boxes all year round.

Blue Spring State Park Photos

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Blue Spring State Park Address & Directions

Blue Spring State Park, 2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763

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