Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Visitors can see West Indian manatees every day of the year from the park’s underwater observatory in the main spring. The park showcases native Florida wildlife, including manatees, black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American alligators, American crocodiles, and river otters. Manatee programs are offered three times daily. At the Wildlife Encounter programs, snakes and other native animals are featured. Recreational opportunities include picnicking, nature study, and bird-watching. The park features a children’s education center, providing hands-on experiences about Florida’s environment. Transportation from the visitor center on U.S. 19 to the West Entrance is available by tram or boat. The park has two gift shops and a café with a selection of beverages and snacks. The park is open daily 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. The ticket counters close at 4:00 p.m. Located in Homosassa Springs on U.S. 19.
Contact the Florida Park Service Information Center for general inquiries.
For Information about Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, please call 352-628-5343.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
The crystalline Ichetucknee River flows six miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands before it joins the Santa Fe River. In 1972, the head spring of the river was declared a National Natural Landmark by the U. S. Department of the Interior. From the end of May until early September, tubing down the river is the premier activity in the area. In addition to tubing, visitors can enjoy picnicking, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing. White-tailed deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, wood ducks and great blue herons can be seen from the river. Picnic areas, equipped with tables and grills, are available throughout the park. A full-service concession offers food, refreshments, and outdoor products from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Tubes plus snorkeling and diving equipment can be rented from private vendors outside the park. Located four miles northwest of Fort White, off State Roads 47 and 238. For Information about Ichetucknee Springs State Park, please call 386-497-2511.
Lafayette Blue Springs
Located on the Suwannee River, this inviting source of cool, clear water has attracted people for thousands of years. Lafayette Blue Springs produces up to 168 million gallons of water daily, making it one of Florida’s 33 first magnitude springs. Swimming or snorkeling in the spring is a refreshing activity on a hot day; river fishing is also a popular recreation. Visitors can enter the park by boat from the Suwannee River as well as by car. Many visitors enjoy the shaded picnic area. White-tailed deer, gray squirrels, red-shouldered hawks, pileated woodpeckers, and barred owls are some of the animals seen in the park. Walk-in tent camping is available for a fee. During rainy seasons sometimes the dark river water backs up into the springs making the springs appear to be black in color. When this occurs, swimming and diving is prohibited for your safety. Be sure to call the park ahead of time to see if swimming is open. For Information about Lafayette Blue Springs, please call 386-294-3667.
Little Talbot Island State Park
With more than five miles of beautiful, white sandy beaches, Little Talbot Island is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Northeast Florida. Maritime forests, desert-like dunes, and undisturbed salt marshes on the western side of the island allow hours of nature study and relaxation. The diverse habitats in the park host a wealth of wildlife. River otters, marsh rabbits, bobcats, and a variety of native and migrating birds can be seen here.
Anglers find excellent fishing in the surf and tidal streams. Bluefish, striped bass, redfish, flounder, mullet, and sheepshead are common catches. Other popular activities are hiking, swimming, canoeing, and surfing. The park has a full-facility campground, as well as a youth/group tent campground. Beachside picnic pavilions are available for visitors to the park.
For a guided paddle tour contact Kayak Amelia at (888) 30-KAYAK (305-2925). Kayak Amelia is located 17 miles northeast of Jacksonville on State Road A1A. Advance reservations are required. For Information about Little Talbot Island State Park, please call 904-251-2320.
Madison Blue Springs State Park
Located in one of Florida´s newest state parks, this crystal clear, first magnitude spring is a popular spot for swimming. About 82 feet wide and 25 feet deep, the spring bubbles up into a limestone basin along the west bank of the Withlacoochee River. Scenic woodlands of mixed hardwoods and pines create a picturesque setting for picnicking, paddling, and wildlife viewing. Madison Blue Spring is approximately 10 miles east of Madison on the west bank of the Withlacoochee River. From Madison, drive east on State Road 6 to the Withlacoochee River. Turn south on the west side of the bridge at the park sign. The entrance to the spring is 525 feet south of the highway. For Information about Madison Blue Springs State Park, please call 850-971-5003.
Manatee Springs State Park
A first magnitude spring, over 100 million gallons of water gush forth daily at Manatee Springs. In winter, manatees swim upriver to spend the night in the warm waters of the headspring. Popular for snorkeling and scuba diving, the headwaters of the spring are also a great spot for swimming. The spring run forms a sparkling stream that meanders through hardwood wetlands to the Suwannee River. A concession provides beverages, snacks and canoe/kayak rentals. Children can enjoy a playground in the picnic area. Hiking and biking are available on the north end trail system. The full-facility campground is surrounded by hardwood trees and sandhills. Reserve a canoe or kayak by calling Suwannee River Tours at (352) 490-9797. Located at the end of State Road 320, off U.S. 98, six miles west of Chiefland. For Information about Manatee Springs State Park, please call 352-493-6072.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park
Visitors to this Florida homestead can walk back in time to 1930s farm life. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived and worked in the tiny community of Cross Creek. Her cracker style home and farm, where she lived for 25 years and wrote her Pulitzer prize-winning novel The Yearling, has been restored and is preserved as it was when she lived here. Rawlings´ farmyard, grove, and nature trails are open 9:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m. daily, throughout the year. Visitors may tour the house with a ranger in period costume from October through July, Thursday through Sunday five times daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Picnic facilities are located in the adjacent county park. Located in Cross Creek off County Road 325. For Information about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, please call 352-466-3672.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
One of Florida´s first state parks, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park was developed on a 2,000-acre site by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. The extraordinary craftsmanship of the CCC is still evident today. Located on rolling sandhills in an area known as the central ridge of Florida, a deep ravine with springs issuing from its side bisects the area and forms Gold Head Branch. Marshes, lakes and scrub provide a habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.
Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking and wildlife viewing along the park´s nature trails and a three-mile stretch of the Florida Trail. For aquatic recreation, visitors can swim or fish in the lake, or spend a lazy afternoon canoeing. A large picnic area, with tables and grills, overlooks Little Lake Johnson. Nestled under the trees is a full-facility campground. Group and primitive campsites are available as are fully equipped lakefront cabins, some of which were built by the CCC.
Oleno State Park
Located along the banks of the scenic Santa Fe River, a tributary of the Suwannee River, the park features sinkholes, hardwood hammocks, river swamps, and sandhills. As the river courses through the park, it disappears underground and reemerges over three miles away in the River Rise State Preserve. One of Florida’s first state parks, O’Leno was first developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. The suspension bridge built by the CCC still spans the river. Visitors can picnic at one of the pavilions or fish in the river for their dinner. Canoes and bicycles are available for rent. While hiking the nature trails, visitors can look for wildlife and enjoy the beauty of native plants. The shady, full-facility campground is the perfect place for a relaxing overnight stay. Located on U.S. 441, six miles north of High Springs. For Information about OLeno State Park, please call 386-454-1853.
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park
This park commemorates the site of Florida’s largest Civil War battle, which took place February 20, 1864. More than 10,000 cavalry, infantry, and artillery troops fought a five-hour battle in a pine forest near Olustee. Three U.S. Colored Troops took part in the battle, including the now famous 54th Massachusetts. The battle ended with 2,807 casualties and the retreat of Union troops to Jacksonville until the war’s end just 14 months later. In 1912, when many living Civil War veterans still attended reunions, the battlefield became the state’s first historic site. Olustee Battlefield has a visitor center with historical information and artifacts. A reenactment is held every February and a Civil War Expo takes place in late summer. Scenes for Civil War movies, including the 1989 movie Glory, have been filmed during the reenactments. Visitors can enjoy a meal at the picnic area or take a walk along a mile-long trail that has interpretive signs describing the events of the battle. Located two miles east of Olustee on U.S. 90.
For Information about Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, please call 386-758-0400.