5 Florida Springs You Must Visit Before Summer Ends

By Melissa Aguilera on August 3, 2016

Florida attracts most of its tourists through its luxurious and utterly beautiful shorelines and beaches. What a lot of tourists aren’t aware of  is the fact that Florida is home to some of the most beautiful freshwater springs on the planet. Geologists estimate that there are over 600 springs in Florida, making it the largest concentration of freshwater springs on Earth. These springs are central/northern Florida treasures and are most cherished by the locals. If you’re attending college in Florida and have no idea where to explore, this is the perfect list for you.

5. Ginnie Springs

Image via wetrocksdiving.com

Ginnie Springs is located 6.5 miles west of High Springs, south of the Santa Fe River. This park is locally famous for attracting divers and even cave divers, due to its captivating and mysterious cave systems. There are numerous springs along the river on which it lies, allowing for tubing, kayaking, paddle boarding, or whatever water-related travel you desire. The water is always crystal clear and cerulean blue. Snorkeling is ideal for this location for most of the year. Sometimes the water rises too high to see the limestone bottom as visibly, but this period only lasts for a short while and does not occur every year. The shoreline is punctuated with beautiful cypress trees and hardwood trees. The wildlife you could expect to see would be turtles on life and wading birds along the waterfront. The park contains upland amenities such as, camping grounds, camping vehicle parking, picnic areas, a volleyball court, and a playground for children. At just the right hour, you can see the vapor mist rising from the water, resembling an eerie yet magical scene in a movie. This lovely Florida gem was once described by Jaques Cousteau as “visibility forever,” a more than fitting description of the insanely clear and beautiful Ginnie Springs.

4. Juniper Springs

Image via meetup.com

Located in Ocala, Juniper Springs offers sparkling waters in a subtropical setting. In the heart of the desert-like Big Scrub, Juniper Springs is considered a hidden oasis. This location has the perfect combination of tiny bubbling springs and massive springs which shoot cold, fresh water out from crevices in the Earth. The area is shaded by a dense canopy of beautiful palms and oak trees. The park amenities include tent camping, camping trailer, picnic tables, toilets, and drinking water. Juniper Springs is an excellent place to go bird watching, as the area contains an extensive variety of bird species. You can bring your own canoe, or rent one from the park, and paddle down the seven-mile Juniper Run, where you are sure to see otters playing, or even alligators in the shallows. Trails were constructed in the 1930′s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, making exploration of this gorgeous oasis possible for decades to come. Located in the Ocala National Forest, Juniper Springs offers a look into the Juniper Prairie Wildlife and some of the most gorgeous natural springs in the world.

3. Ichetucknee River

Image via thepermanenttourist.com

Located in Fort White, Ichetucknee is a popular local attraction with its many large rocks which allow for dives from some daring heights. This Florida State Park River goes on for six miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands before it hits the Sante Fe River, where Juniper springs can be found. Tubing is the area’s most utilized activity, but the park also accepts and offers picnicking, canoeing, snorkeling, hiking, and views of the wonderful wildlife. The park opens up their caves to visitors from Florida to March, however, this treacherous terrain is only available to those with Cave Diving Certifications. The wildlife you could expect to see along this beautiful river include white-tailed deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, wood ducks, and great blue herons. The park is equipped with shaded picnic areas which contain tables and grills. There is a campground hidden in the woods along the river which has wifi and a fire ring at each site. The upper 3.5 mile stretch of the river contains eight of Florida’s major springs. This portion of the river has been named a National Landmark due to its overwhelming natural beauty, representing Florida’s most pristine spring fed river. These crystal clear waters have made this destination the most popular in Florida for tubing. And what’s the best part of it all? Dogs are allowed!

2. Silver Springs

Image via floridasprings.org

This State Park located in Central Florida contains one of the largest collection of artesian springs ever discovered. The word “artesian” refers to a well laid perpendicularly to water bearing strata at an angle, resulting in a a natural pressure which results in a constant supply of water with little or no pumping. This is what makes agriculture possible. These springs are home to the staple vibrant clarity of Florida’s most beautiful natural springs. The park offers a tour of the springs along a glass bottom boat, in addition to canoeing, kayaking, and even special event productions such as, dining, weddings, and parties. The popular glass bottom boat ride is what made this location Florida’s first attraction in the 1870s. Silver Springs is often called the gateway to the Ocala National Forest. The park has just recently added a water park called “Wild Waters” which just opened in May. At just $15 you will be able to enjoy the thrills and chills of Florida’s newest water park and probably the only water park in the state which runs off of freshwater springs.

1. Rainbow Springs

Image via floridasprings.org

At the top of the list we have Rainbow Springs, appropriately named for its colorful wildlife and vegetation. There is no better time to visit the most beautiful spring in Florida than summer because the trees are all in full bloom, allowing for the fullest experience this attraction has to offer. The Rainbow River is popular for canoeing, snorkeling, swimming, tubing, and kayaking. The park rents out canoes and kayaks and is also equipped with picnic areas and private pavilions for large gatherings. Archeological evidence indicates that this river system has been utilized by humans for over 10,000 years. The magical ancient air casts a feeling that can only be explained by experiencing it. What sets this spring apart from the others is its surrounding landscape. The water is surrounded by high and rolling land, providing picturesque vistas of the spring surrounded by forests. The spring is exceptionally large, with a width of 250 feet. You can see the glimmering white limestone sprinkled with beds of green aquatic plants through the extremely clear blue waters. The park was privately owned from the 1930s through to the 1970s, accounting for its extensive ornamental gardens and walkways.  There is even an artificial waterfall.

 

When visiting these natural state treasures, please keep in mind that we must care for them and protect their state of utter beauty by being conscious of our pollutants, our trash, and our overall environmental impact on these florida gems. Stay safe and milk the last bit of fun left before the fall semester!

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