13 Unbelievable Experiences at Blue Springs State Park

Revitalizing 72 degree waters of Blue Spring State Park greet visitors at this gem along the St. Johns River
8 am to Sundown
$6 per Vehicle
2100 W French Ave. Orange City Florida
386-775-3663

Welcome to Blue Springs State Park

Conservation efforts can produce astounding results. In 1970, two years before Blue Spring State Park was formed, researchers tracked 14 manatees in the spring run. By 2005, after years of park advances and manatee protection efforts, wintering manatee numbers exceeded 200. By 2018, that number increased to a record 485.

Besides sea cows, fish abound in the spring run, and these attract various wading birds, ospreys, eagles, and kingfishers. To see the park’s many wonders, you can hike along the spring run or on the 4.5-mile Pine Island Trail. Embrace the water and launch a canoe or kayak, or take a guided river boat cruise.

Experiences

Birding

The local Florida scrub-jay calls Blue Spring State Park home.  With several families dwelling in the rare scrub ecosystem, isn’t a surprise when you catch a glimpse or hear their calls.  Please remember: Feeding scrub-jays is against the law and can cause great harm to the birds.

Boat Tours

St. Johns River Cruises and Tours hosts boat tours daily at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. This is a two-hour narrated nature and ecological cruise on the alluring and historic St. Johns River. See the authentic Florida…naturally. Rent Canoes and Kayaks on our Water Rentals page, or check out Paddle Board Rentals. St. Johns River also has cruise tours which has become the latest Florida ecotourism provider to victoriously complete the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism’s rigorous certification program and was awarded the reputable Platinum Level Certification for meeting above 90% of the bonus criteria on the Society’s checklist. Wheelchair access is accommodated with a wheelchair lift into the vessel.  Please mention any accessibility needs when making a reservation.

Camping

This campground contains 51 campsites (recreational vehicles up to 40 feet long) located in the sand pine scrub and are within walking distance to the spring. Each site is features a picnic table, water, electricity and a grill. A dump station is accessible in the park and pets are welcome in the camping area in accordance with the Pet Policy.  Accessible sites are available on Reserve America and two new bathhouses are equipped with accessible showers and bathroom stalls.

Reservations can be made up to 11 months in ahead of time for the Camp grounds. Tents, gear and More can be rented at Land Rentals

Paddling

You are welcome to canoe beautiful Blue Spring Run and the St Johns River. Canoes and kayaks can be rented on the Water Rentals, or Paddle Board Rentals page. For more detailed information, current conditions, availability, costs and reservations, call (386) 917-0724.  

Blue Spring is an official manatee refuge. Temperatures in the spring run stay a constant 72 degrees, creating a haven for the West Indian manatee. To provide a secure warm-water refuge for manatees during the winter season, the spring and spring run are closed to all water-related activities including swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and boating from roughly mid-November through March.

Fishing

Visitors may fish from the accessible fishing dock on the St. Johns River.  Fishing is not allowed in the Blue Spring Run.

  • All fishing within the park needs to align to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season.  A fishing license may be required.  More detailed information is available at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fishing in Florida.

Hiking 

The same pristine beauty enjoyed by Florida’s earliest establishers can still be viewed today. An accessible boardwalk leads visitors on a self-guided tour through an exquisite hammock to Blue Spring.

Pine Island Trail is 3.6 miles in length (one way) and leads you through numerous plant communities from the desert-like scrub to the Blackwater stream known as the St. Johns River. Please check for postings at the trail head for more information on the trail conditions. See Camping Tent Rentals for gear and equipment to accompany your trip.

Picnicking

Blue Spring State Park offers two distinct picnic areas. There are accessible covered pavilions with available grills located at these areas for larger groups. One of these sectors also has a large covered barbecue grill.  All the pavilions are first come, first served. There are numerous grills and picnic tables throughout the park.

Scuba Diving

Blue Spring State Park is excited to allow responsible, certified divers access.  To guarantee the safety of all divers and other visitors, the following criteria MUST be met:

  • All divers need to show proof of certification before diving and leave certifications visible on the dashboard of the car.

  • All divers need to have a dive buddy and remain together for the duration of EACH and EVERY dive.

  • Cavern and cave diving is accessible only to certified cave divers.

  • Open water divers are authorized to 50 feet.

  • Open water divers are not authorized to carry lights.

  • Instructors conducting a class need to have a Commercial Dive Permit.

  • Divers always dive at their own risk.

  • No solo diving is accepted.

  • Dives may not extend past 5 p.m.

  • No scooters (DPVs) or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

  • Fishing is not permitted.

Snorkeling

Blue Spring offers the snorkeling experience in a crystal-clear spring run. Swimming with the manatees is NOT allowed.

Swimming

Blue Spring offers a chance to swim in the crystal-clear spring run.  Swimming or diving with the manatees is NOT accepted.

Tubing

Tubes may be rented through Water Rentals.  You may enter the water at the upper entry, swim to the spring boil, and float back down to the main swim dock.  The float run lasts almost an eighth of a mile.

Amenities

Cabins

Six two-bedroom cabins are positioned in a shady oak hammock near Blue Spring, a designated manatee refuge. Cabins comfortably sleep up to six people. One bedroom is fully furnished with a double bed. The second room is also furnished with two single beds. A sleeper sofa in the living room can convert to a double bed and each cabin is equipped with a gas fireplace (for use November through March), central heating and AC, bathroom, fully equipped kitchen with stove and refrigerator, screened porch, outdoor grill and picnic table. Linens, pillows, blankets and towels, cooking and eating utensils are included. Linens will not be changed daily. Two vehicles per cabin are allowed.

For the guests’ complete relaxation, televisions and phones are not provided.

  • Reservations can be made up to 11 months ahead of time through Reserve America. Book in advance online or call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or TDD (888) 433-0287. Pets are not allowed in cabins. Service animals are permitted.

  • There is a minimum of two nights in cabins on weekends and holidays, either Friday and Saturday night, or Saturday and Sunday nights. A single Friday or Saturday night may be reserved only if the following Saturday or Sunday night has previously been reserved.  Cabin 2 is available by reservation through Reserve America.

Restroom Facilities

Blue Spring State Park has available day-use restrooms and campground restrooms.

Historic Site

The Thursby House was built by Louis Thursby in 1872 and became a central hub of activity on the St. Johns River, providing steamboat passengers as they made their way up and down the river.

Interpretive Exhibit

Interpretive exhibits are available in the Thursby House and on kiosks along the convenient Spring Run boardwalk. Interpretive sessions on manatees are offered daily during the manatee season (November 15th-March 1st). Special programs are available to schools and can be organized groups upon request.

Picnic Pavilion

Three accessible picnic pavilions are available that have stand-up grills.  There is another, larger barbecue grill by the pavilions near the river.

Concession and Restaurant

The Manatee Gift Shop, Food Service, Camp Store and Water Activities Rental Station are positioned near the public swimming area. For more information, costs and seasonal hours, please contact Blue Spring Enterprises, Inc., (386) 775-6888.

If you are looking for Things to do in Orlando other than theme parks and tourist attractions, come check out Orlando natural lakes, and preserves for a truly memorable day. 

 

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