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Blue Springs State Park

Despite the large population and astronomical number of visitors to Central Florida, the state has preserved some quiet, undeveloped and pristine land.

No place is more genuinely Florida than Blue Springs State Park.

Sitting on more than 2600 acres, this getaway along the St. Johns River is a multi-use and multi-sport Mecca.

A place championed by the nature lovers.

No screaming, whirling, dizzying theme park here.

No endless lines and constant spending; Blue Springs is a step back into what early day Florida was like.

This land is quiet, surreal and a spot to recharge.

St. Johns River

The St. Johns River is Florida’s largest.

Due to its slow northward flow, the St. Johns is considered a “lazy” river; it winds through the heart of Central Florida, preserving the famed swamps and marshes.

The St. Johns is the backbone of Blue Springs State Park.

Blue Spring, the largest natural spring along the river produces 64 million gallons of water a day.

The water temperatures stay constant at 72 degrees F.

The warm, crystal clear waters make this area a paradise for swimmers, snorkelers, and certified scuba divers.

A charming nature trail and interpretive center takes visitors along the river and through the swamps for wildlife and bird watching.

Overnight cabins are available, as well.

Manatees

As a designated manatee refuge site, riverboat rides and canoe trips are the most popular events in Blue Springs State Park.

The West Indian manatee is a large, gray mammal that lives in shallow, slow moving bodies of water.

They can reach lengths of 11’ and weigh as much as 1,300 lbs.

These mammals are always gentle, curious and steady.

Their slowness is due to having no back limbs.

They swim or plod along the bottoms of shallow bays, estuaries and rivers using their two forelimbs, or flippers.

With wrinkly faces and whiskered snouts, these animals are as cute as they are gentle.

Tragically, they are on the Endangered Species List.

Manatees have no known natural enemies.

They are mostly vegetarian, although they do consume some small fish and crustaceans.

They range from New England to Texas during summer months, but gather in record numbers at Blue Springs State Park during winter months.

Their gatherings are the highlight for Blue Springs visitors.

Although the bountiful spring is closed during the manatee migration and swimming, diving or any water time with manatees is strictly forbidden, canoe trips and boat rides are encouraged.

Park Rangers

Park rangers and wildlife experts are always on hand to monitor manatee conditions, health and habits.

Manatee education is an ongoing public event.

Bringing these wonderful creatures back to numbers high enough to be taken off the endangered species list is everyone’s responsibility.

Please come, visit, learn and experience the beauty of these wild creatures; do your part in their restoration.

Florida, our Sunshine State, has 160 parks containing more than 700,000 acres, including 100 miles of sugar white beaches.

These parks celebrate all aspects of Florida history, revere the myriad of cultures that have shaped the state and respect the unique, varied wildlife that live here.

Visit one soon; it will enrich you like no theme park can!

By Marie Ospina
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