Blue Springs State Park in Florida is the “winter home to the manatee”. During the summer months you can catch a manatee hanging out there, but during the winter, the spring run is filled up with manatees enjoying the consistent temperature of the spring water.
If you are thinking about visiting:
They have cabins and campgrounds available. There are 6 cabins surrounded by woods. Each (as far as I know) has a front porch, 2 bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen, dining table, family room, air conditioning, and a gas fireplace that is shut off in summer months. Outside each is a grill, table, and fire pit. There is a camp store on property that has small items you may have forgotten/need and a sandwich shop. Right next to the camp store is a souvenir shop and a place to rent tubes for the spring. The Blue Spring Park has picnic tables scattered in several areas and a large covered pavilion. There is a wood/sidewalk boardwalk along the length of the spring run with look out areas scattered throughout. There are hand rails on the hill portions at a height that appears designed to assist wheelchair users. There are 2 main areas with access to the swim area and are spaced so that you can put in at one spot and relax to let the current take you to the second access point if you wish. I did not notice a way for a wheelchair to access the swim out areas but I also did not ask the park staff about options, so please contact the park to inquire if you are planning a visit. (link to park website) Everyone I spoke at Blue Springs was really nice and more than helpful.
Blue Springs empties into the St. John’s River and there are kayak, canoe and boat tours available from inside the park. I have been on a couple of boat tours (from outside tour companies) over the years, and it really is a wonderful way to see the area. The tours last around 2 hours and your are almost 100% sure to see birds, turtles, gators, and plenty of various foliage.
I posted a camera about 20 feet outside a cabin and caught some good images.
During my visit, the swim area was closed for all but the last morning due to a gator hanging out in the safety zone. I saw the trappers looking for him the first night I was there but they did not catch up to him until the second night. A local resident, that has been swimming there every day for years, told the story of how an old time gator had killed a friend a couple years ago. The gator had been around back when it was common for people to feed gators. The theory was that after the victim, and a couple of others, swam past him and did not feed him, that the gator got mad and went after them.
I heard this story right after I had just enjoyed a quick dip in the spring. I was the only one around when the rangers had opened the swim area and could not resist. The current is a little more noticeable in this spring compared to others that I have been to, so I am sure the tubing is popular.
The sunrise photos were taken from the east coast of Florida that looks to have escaped a direct hit by the hurricane. Blue Springs State Park was closing early the day I left due to Hurricane Dorian.
(Warning Spiders 🙂