Econfina River State Park
Nestled along the northern Gulf Coast, this park protects a mosaic of diverse landscapes. The Econfina River meanders like a dark ribbon through pine flatwoods, oaks and palm forests to broad expanses of salt marsh dotted with pine islands. Nature lovers can explore the scenic beauty by foot, bicycle, or horseback on nine miles of wooded trails-or drift along the river in a kayak, canoe, or boat. Trails lead to a panoramic view of coastal Florida where lush islands, sand dunes left from a bygone era, dot the horizon. The Econfina River empties into the Gulf of Mexico 2.2 miles south of the park’s boat ramp. Picnic facilities are near the boat ramp. Equestrians must register with the park office prior to using a trail. Located in Taylor County at the end of State Road 14, south of U.S. 98. For Information about Econfina River State Park, please call 850-922-6007.
Eden Gardens State Park
The focal point of this park is a beautifully renovated, two-story house with elegant white columns and wrap-around porch. Surrounded by moss-draped live oaks and ornamental gardens, the Wesley house inspires visions of hoop skirts and landed gentry. The park is part of the estate owned in the 1800s by the Wesleys, a wealthy Florida timber family. In 1963, Lois Maxon bought and renovated the home, creating a showplace for her family heirlooms and antiques. The collection of Louis XVI furniture is the second largest in the United States. Guided tours of the house are available hourly Thursday through Monday (including holidays). Visitors can enjoy the grounds, gardens, and picnic area daily from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. For Information about Eden Gardens State Park, please call 850-231-4214.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Home of one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world, this park plays host to an abundance of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, deer, and birds. Daily guided riverboat tours provide a closer view of wildlife, and glass bottom boat tours are offered when the water is clear. Swimming is a popular activity during the hot summer months. A nature trail offers a leisurely walk along the upland wooded areas of the park. The Wakulla Springs Lodge was built in 1937 by financier Edward Ball and is open year-round. A full-service dining room overlooks the spring; lodge meeting facilities offer an excellent place for retreats. Wakulla Springs State Park and Lodge is listed on the Natural Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Natural Landmark. To reserve a guest or meeting room, please call the park. Located 14 miles south of Tallahassee on State Road 267 at the intersection with State Road 61. For Information about Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, please call 850-224-5950.
Falling Waters State Park
Huge trees and fern-covered sinkholes line Sink Hole Trail, the boardwalk that leads visitors to Florida’s highest waterfall. Falling Waters Sink is a 100-foot deep, 20-foot wide cylindrical pit into which flows a small stream that drops 73 feet to the bottom of the sink. The water’s final destination remains unknown. Only a few miles south of I-10, the park provides travelers with a quiet, serene stop on their journey. Visitors can see beautiful native and migrating butterflies in the butterfly garden, take a dip in the lake, or have a family picnic. Hikers can experience the verdant, gently sloping landscape of North Florida. Park rangers host interpretive programs in the amphitheater. Full-facility campsites nestled in a shady pine forest provide the perfect excuse for an overnight stay at Falling Waters. Located three miles south of Chipley, off State Road 77A. For Information about Falling Waters State Park, please call 850-638-6130.
Florida Caverns State Park
This is one of the few state parks with dry (air filled) caves and is the only Florida state park to offer cave tours to the public. The cave has dazzling formations of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones, and draperies. Florida Caverns is also popular for camping, swimming, fishing, picnicking, canoeing, boating, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding (The park does not rent horses.). Stables are available for equestrian campers. Guided cave tours are offered every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and is considered to be moderately strenuous. An audiovisual program, touring the cave and other natural areas of the park, is available in the visitor center. Located three miles north of Marianna on State Road 166. For Information about Florida Caverns State Park, please call 850-482-9598.
Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
U.S. Air Force Colonel Fred Gannon was instrumental in transforming this site from a bombing practice range during World War II to a picturesque state park. The property now preserves beautiful old growth long leaf pine trees, several over 300 years old, that once dominated this area of Florida. Rocky Bayou, the main feature of the park, is the trailing arm of Choctawhatchee Bay and is popular for boating and fishing. A double lane boat ramp makes this one of the best boat launching locations on the bay, where both freshwater and saltwater fish are found. Other opportunities for fun include hiking, bicycling, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. Puddin Head Lake, at the center of the park, is a great spot for freshwater fishing and canoeing. A well shaded campground is available for full facility camping. Located on State Road 20, five miles east of Highway 85. For Information about Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park, please call 850-833-9144.
Golden in the morning sun, silvered by moonlight, Grayton Beach has consistently been ranked among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. The beach provides an idyllic setting for swimming, sunbathing, and surf fishing. Visitors can paddle a canoe or kayak on scenic Western Lake to get a closer look at a salt marsh ecosystem. A boat ramp provides access to the lake’s brackish waters for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. A nature trail winds through a coastal forest where scrub oaks and magnolias, bent and twisted by salt winds, have an eerie “Middle Earth” look. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy over four miles of trails through pine flatwoods; the trail begins across from the park entrance on Highway 30-A. Options for overnight stays include modern cabins and a full-facility campground. Located near the town of Grayton Beach on County Road 30A, south of U.S. 98. For Information about Grayton Beach, please call 850-231-4210.
Henderson Beach State Park
Pristine white sugar sand beaches and more than 6,000 feet of natural scenic shoreline border the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Natural features of the park include sand pines, scrub oaks, and dune rosemary. Boardwalks provide access to the beach for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Two large pavilions allow for picnicking and grilling. A playground is the first stop on our nature trail and is sure to be a success with the kids. The nature trail provides visitors a rare glimpse of the coastal dune ecosystem and abundant wildlife and is pet friendly. Camping at Henderson Beach State Park provides 60 campsites that are located in our secondary dune system. The sites include water and electric hookups and access to air conditioned and heated bathhouse facilities. A separate beach access boardwalk with outdoor showers and a playground are included in our campground. Henderson Beach is A.D.A accessible and includes beach wheel chair availability. Visitors can enjoy truly breathtaking sunsets while relaxing by the warm crystal clear water of the Gulf of Mexico. The park is located just east of Destin on U.S. 98. For Information about Henderson Beach State Park, please call (850) 837-7550.
John Gorrie Museum State Park
A young physician named John Gorrie moved to Apalachicola in the early 1800s when it was a prominent port of trade, commerce, and shipping in Florida. Gorrie served as postmaster, city treasurer, town councilman, and bank director. Concern for his yellow fever patients motivated Gorrie to invent a method for cooling their rooms. He became a pioneer in the field of air conditioning and refrigeration by inventing a machine that made ice, and received the first U.S. Patent for mechanical refrigeration in 1851. A replica of his ice-making machine is on display at the museum, as well as exhibits chronicling the colorful history of Apalachicola, which played an important role in Florida’s economic development. Hours are 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m., Thursday through Monday, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Located on Sixth Street in Apalachicola, off U.S. 98. For Information about John Gorrie Museum State Park, please call 850-653-9347.
Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park
More than eight centuries ago, Native Americans inhabited the area around Lake Jackson, just north of Tallahassee. The park site was part of what is now known as the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Today, it encompasses six earthen temple mounds and one possible burial mound. The largest mound is 278 feet by 312 feet at the base and approximately 36 feet in height. Artifacts of pre-Columbian societies have been found here including copper breastplates, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and cloaks. Visitors can enjoy a short hike past the remains of an 1800s grist mill or picnic on an open grassy area near the largest mound. Guided tours and interpretive programs of the park are available upon request. Located off U.S. 27, two miles north of I-10 in Tallahassee. Take Crowder Road and turn right onto Indian Mounds Road. For Information about Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park, please call 850-922-6007.