Manatee Springs State Park

Manatee Springs State Park (from Wikimedia)

MANATEE SPRINGS STATE PARK proves boardwalks aren’t only for the beach. Its 800 foot boardwalk runs through a majestic cypress forest overlooking one of Florida’s breathtaking first magnitude springs.

People have enjoyed the cool waters of manatee springs for more than 10,000 years, from early Paleo Indians to modern park visitors. This magnitude spring – one of Florida’s first – releases an astounding 100 million gallons of water daily. This makes it a popular cooling off spot and a great place to stroll on the park boardwalk and gaze into the depths.

True to its namesake, manatees can be seen in the cooler months and birds, mammals and fish are spotted year-round.

The park also offers 8.5 miles of nature trails and a safe connection to the 32-mile Nature Coast State Trail, so don’t forget to bring your bicycles!

Between 35 and 150 million gallons of crystal-clear water flow from this first magnitude spring every day. The water percolates through lime rock to underground caves that feed the spring. This aquatic cave system is one of the longest in North America and harbors rare species of crayfish. The spring water flows through the quarter-mile long spring run to join the tannin-stained waters of the Suwannee River flowing toward the Gulf of Mexico. This brings fresh water to Suwannee Sound, an estuary about twenty-five miles down river.

CAMPERS: DO NOT BRING YOUR FIREWOOD INTO THE PARK. To protect our forests, please do not bring your own firewood into the park. The Emerald Ash Borer infestation is spread by moving infested wood to a non-infested area. Wood is available at the park for a suggested donation of $7. For information, please call the park at 352-493-6072.

PETS are permitted in designated areas only. Pets must be kept on a handheld leash no longer than six feet and be well-behaved at all times. 
CAMP RESERVATIONS:  $20 per night, plus tax, plus a non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. Includes water and electricity.  Visitors may make campsite or cabin reservations from one day to 11 months in advance by calling toll free 1-800-326-3521 or TDD (888) 433-0287 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST, or by going online to ReserveAmerica
GROUP CAMPING:  Two group campgrounds are available for tent camping. (Some restrictions and fees apply, contact the park for information.) Pavilions located in the picnic area may be reserved for group gatherings. 
WIKIPEDIA:  Manatee Spring is a first magnitude spring that flows directly into the Suwannee River by way of a short run (though it is the longest spring run feeding the Suwannee River). Present also are swamps and hardwood wetlands along the Suwannee, along with many sinkhole ponds, including one with a cave 90 feet below the ground that connects to a popular divers’ destination known as the catfish hotel.


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