Where Is Blue Spring State Park?
Blue Springs State Park is located just west of Orange City, Florida, north of Orlando and inland from New Smyrna Beach. The park is located alongside the Saint Johns River, alongside two other parks.
How To Get to Blue Spring SP From Orlando
You’ll want to take I-4 north from Orlando. Follow I-4 East to US-17 North/US-92 East in Seminole County. Take exit 104 off I-4 E and continue to Blue Springs State Park.
Turn left onto French Avenue, then left onto Becker Boulevard, and finally right into the park in Orange City. The journey is around 33.5 miles long and takes slightly more than forty minutes.
How To Get To Blue Spring SP From Tampa
The trip from Tampa, Florida, takes you directly to Orlando and then back to the park.
To get to I-4 East, take I-275 North. Continue on I-4 E through Orlando, exit at exit 104, and follow US-17 N/US-92 E to the park. Turn left onto French Avenue, then left onto Becker Boulevard, and finally right into the park in Orange City. The journey is around 117 miles long and takes slightly under two hours.
About The Park
The History of The Park
Blue Springs was once a lively fish camp that was privately owned. The park was established in 1972 to protect the manatees of the Saint John’s River. Prior to its designation as a park, the area was so congested that manatees rarely came and had effectively lost their winter home. Around 500 manatees now call the park and river home.
Logging grew in importance in the area, with steamboats transporting cypress and pine wood up the river to Jacksonville. The Thorsby family erected a huge plantation house on the property in 1872, which has been preserved as a historical landmark. The region was a popular riverboat landing, reminiscent of the Wild West in a Florida swamp.
Indigenous People History
Blue Springs was founded by the Timucuan Indians, who lived in the area for about 3,000 years.
On the east end of the spring, huge mounds of snail shells were discovered. They were a primary diet for the tribe, and the stacks of shells were thought to be utilized as a barrier to defend their homes from seasonal flooding.
Wildlife In Blue Spring State Park
Are The Manatees at Blue Springs?
Manatees frequent Blue Springs, and while they are more visible in the winter, they are always present. Blue Springs is one of the few sites on the planet where you can consistently stand on the beach and observe manatees.
You are not permitted to approach the manatees and must swim only in approved locations. However, if manatees approach you in those places, you are permitted to swim with them.
Are There Alligators At Blue Spring State Park?
There are alligators in the water, as in most freshwater regions in central Florida. The park offers them with a secure haven beside the manatees, as well as plenty of fish and birds to eat. Most of the time, they choose quieter regions away from people, but you should always be aware that they make their home there, and you should only swim in specified areas.
Other Animals to Look Out for in Blue Spring State Park
A variety of other animals call the park home as well. There are many species to see, including kingfishers, wading birds, ospreys, and eagles. A few black bears and gopher tortoises can be spotted in the wooded regions surrounding the springs. Gar, sunfish, and turtles can all be seen swimming in the crystal-clear waters.
Things To Do in Blue Spring State Park
Can You Swim in The Park?
Swimming is permitted in the park, but only in approved places. There are sometimes closures, so check the park’s website before you go to avoid surprises. Swimming restrictions can be found here. Because it is spring-fed, the water temperature remains consistent at 72 degrees Fahrenheit all year.
Tubing is provided through Blue Spring Adventures. You float back to the main boat pier after entering the water. The whole distance is about an eighth of a mile.
Kayaking is another activity offered by Blue Spring Adventures. Every year, seasonal closures occur, so contact ahead for availability, closure, and bookings.
Hiking There are several self-guided natures walks throughout the park. A boardwalk trail is a short stroll that allows guests to enjoy the pristine beauty of the spring on their way to the spring.
The Pine Island trail is a more difficult 3.6-mile (one way) trail that first passes through scrub vegetation and then along St. John’s blackwater river. At the trailhead, trail conditions are updated.
What Facilities Are There In The Park?
The park offers a variety of camping choices as well as a variety of amenities for visitors. They do provide accessibility solutions to assist individuals with disabilities in enjoying the park. The park offers cottages, a campground, and an RV park for camping. Showers, restrooms, and concessions are available. There are also educational activities and a playground for children.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Blue Spring State Park in Florida?
Summer and winter are the busiest seasons in the park, with summer having the finest weather and winter having the most manatees. The off seasons of fall and spring have fewer visitors, but these are the times when the park does maintenance and construction projects, so fewer amenities are available.
If you want to see the most manatees, you should go during the winter months.