Devil's Millhopper State Geological Site
Devil's Millhopper State Geological Site is a really cool North Florida attraction (so to speak). The Devil's Millhopper in Gainesville, Florida, is a giant economy-sized sinkhole. Now, sinkholes are a dime a dozen in Florida, but this one is special.
Picture a huge limestone bowl in the ground, 120 feet deep, and 500 feet in diameter at the top. At the top of the hole there are pine trees and other typical Florida plants. Nice enough, but not terribly exciting.
Can I talk you into following me down though?
Just a small warning, before we set out -- there are 236 steps down to the bottom of the sinkhole. Unfortunately, that also means 236 steps back up!
But First...How Did Devil's Millhopper Get Its Name?
Yes, Devil's Millhopper is an unusual name, to say the least. So how in the world did it come about?
Back in the 1880's, farmers would grind grain in a gristmill, which had a funnel-shaped opening at the top. They called these funnels "hoppers".
Since the sinkhole is funnel-shaped, Millhopper was a natural name. But what about the "Devil's" part?
When people were originally exploring the bottom of the sinkhole, they were finding all kinds of fossils, shark's teeth, etc. Someone got the idea that these had been left in the sinkhole for the devil.
Hence -- Devil's Millhopper!Begin the Descent
I've been at the Devil's Millhopper when it was 90+ degrees out - yikes that's hot! But as I walked down into the Millhopper, something cool happened. Literally. As you descend the Devil's Millhopper sink, it's like walking into a different country.
Small streams trickle down the sides of the bowl, cascading into mini-waterfalls, and disappearing into the bottom. The plants become lush and green, more like what you'd see in the Carolinas instead of Florida. The air becomes cooler, like there was a humongous outdoor air conditioner.
As an intriguing geological formation, Devil's Millhopper is a National Natural Landmark. Researches have located things like fossil shark teeth, marine shells, and fossilized remains of extinct land animals found in the sinkhole.
Before you go, I've got to warn you -- there are a gazillion steps down, or at least it seems that way.
Going down is a breeze, coming back up...well, maybe you will want to stop at some of the landings. Which is actually nice, with benches and lovely views -- heck, I'd probably stop at some of the landings even if I didn't need the rest!
I used to live in Gainesville, and when I did, I visited the Millhopper as often as I could. No matter how many times I've seen it, I am still in awe.
What Else Is There to Do?
Devil's Millhopper State Geological Park has a few other things to offer visitors:
Time and Place
Devil's Millhopper State Geological Park is 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Wednesday through Sunday. The entrance and other fees are as follows:
Devil's Millhopper State Geological Site is located in Gainesville, Florida. The official park address is 4732 Millhopper Road, Gainesville, Florida 32653. The phone number is (352) 955-2008.
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