Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park is located north of Orlando, in the Central Florida area. Bordering on the St. John's River, Blue Spring is a gem of the Florida State Park system.
David and I recently returned from a visit to Blue Spring, so we've got some info and photos for you!
Be on the Lookout For...
Manatees! This park is famous for its congregations of manatees in the colder winter months. When there's a cold snap, you can almost be guaranteed a sighting (or sightings). The spring water is 72 degrees year around, so it's warmer in the winter than the neighboring St. John's River waters.
Of course there are all kinds of other critters to be seen, like this trio of turtles sunning themselves on a log.
Things To Do
Blue Spring State Park has lots to do, as it's a multi-function park. Here's a partial list of things to do at the park:
Swim, Tube and Snorkel in the Spring
The head of the spring is where most of the action takes place. It's great for snorkeling (the water is crystal-clear), but also for swimming and having a leisurely trip down the stream in an inner tube. It's only a short jaunt on the tube, but it's beautiful.
Note: because of the manatees that come into the spring run in the winter, the springs are closed to all water-related activities in the run from November 15th to March 1st. This is when you'll want to be on the boardwalk, counting the manatees you see!
Kayaking, Canoeing, Boating
There are two boat ramps at Blue Spring State Park. One is by the camping area, and is meant for motorized boats.
The second is located near to where the spring water meets the St. John's River, and it's a kayak/canoe put-in. If you're bringing your own kayak or canoe, you'll have a fair bit of a carry to the water, but at least it's fairly level going.
You can rent kayaks at the concession stand near to the put-in spot. There is also a ranger-led kayak tour available, which takes you to places where regular kayaks can't go. The ranger-led tour is $55 per person if you use their kayaks, $30 per person if you bring your own.
There is also a boat tour, twice a day, that leaves from the dock area (close to where the canoe/kayak put-in area is). The tour (on a motorized boat) goes out onto the St. John's River for a two-hour eco-tour. For reservations and information, call them at call (407) 330-1612 or (386) 917-0724.
Sadly, there is no fishing allowed in the park proper -- which is tough when you see all those fish go by in the spring run (where the water is so clear). If you bring your own boat, you can go out onto the St. John's River for fishing, though.
Hiking in Blue Spring
The only real hiking you can do at Blue Spring is along the boardwalk, which runs from the spring head down to the confluence of the spring run with the St. John's River. There are interpretive signs along the way, and the scenery is gorgeous. I couldn't find a listing on how long the boardwalk is, but I'm guessing maybe half a mile.
The picture to the right is just one example of the natural beauthy of the area around the boardwalk!
Blue Spring State Park Camping Options
The Blue Spring campground has 51 campsites, each of which is equipped with a picnic table, water, electricity and a grill. All campsites are within walking distance to the springs. While RVs are welcome, the maximum length is 40', so keep that in mind.
A dump station is available in the park. Well-behaved pets are also welcome in camping area.
Cabins at Blue Spring State Park are also available for rent, and they are nice! There are six, two bedroom cabins that are located in a shady oak hammock. Each cabin accommodates up to six people. The cabins have a gas fireplace (a very welcome amenity, for use November through March), central heating and air conditioning. Also includes is a bathroom, a fully equipped kitchen with stove and refrigerator. Other extras are a screened porch, outdoor grill and picnic table.
In addition, linens, pillows, blankets, towels, cooking and eating utensils are provided. Sounds fabulous!
I highly recommended that you make a reservation for camping at Wekiwa Springs State Park, and the reservation can be made up to 11 months in advance. To make or change a reservation call Reserve America at 1-800-326-3521 or visit them online. Don't call the park - Florida State parks no longer handle the reservation booking themselves.
The main picnic area is at the end of the spring run, where the spring waters meet the St. John's River. There is also another picnic area near to the concession stand where they rent the inner tubes.
Water, Weather and Insects
As always when in natural Florida, be aware of the strong sun, plentiful insects and possible rainshowers. Much of the springs area, as well as the boardwalk, is in the shade. However, you might want to consider some insect repellent for hiking in the summer months.
I suggest a hat if you're going on the St. John's for kayaking, canoeing or taking one of the boat tours. There isn't any shade, so you're subject to a sunburned scalp. And of course, wear sunblock.
Time and Place
Blue Spring State Park is open year-round from 8 AM to sunset. The entrance and other fees are as follows:
This Florida State Park is near Orlando. The official park address is 2100 W. French Avenue, Orange City, Florida 32763. The phone number is (386) 775-3663.
To make camping reservations, please call Reserve America at 1-800-326-3521 -- they handle all the reservations.
Blue Springs State Park is north and east of Orlando, in Central Florida. The closest city is Orange City, (although Orlando proper is just a little further away). The closest airport is Orlando International.Top of Blue Spring State Park page
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