Visiting the Florida springs is one of the most popular attractions in the state and is the perfect place to cool off during the warm summer days.
Located in the Southeast United States, Florida is a popular state to visit for outdoor and water enthusiasts. The warm climate year round is a huge draw for locals and visitors especially those looking to escape the colder winters.
There are over 700 natural springs located throughout Florida with a constant temperature of 72 degrees. The most popular and commonly known ones are the springs in central Florida which include Ichetucknee Springs and Gilchrist Blue Springs.
Florida Springs Map
Which natural springs in Florida are the best to visit within an hour drive of Gainesville? This Florida springs map includes a few of the best springs in central Florida which you can easily save by clicking the star at the top.
Ichetucknee Springs is a six mile spring fed river that runs through canopy of picturesque trees. Visitors can enjoy kayaking, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving at Ichetucknee Springs. The water is crystal clear and the area is known for the famous blue hole scuba diving spot.
Ichetucknee Springs Hiking
There are many things to do at Ichetucknee Springs State Park besides water sports. Although that is the main highlight! There are three main hiking trails which are assessable via the North Entrance.
The first trail is the Blue Hole Trail which leads visitors along a wooden boardwalk through a lush, canopy of trees to the Blue Hole. This trail is only 0.5 miles long and is suitable for all fitness levels.
The second trail is the Trestle Point Trail and traverses along the Ichetucknee River underneath the shade of the forest trees.
The last trail is the Pine Ridge Trail and is a 2 mile loop trail. This trail is not located along the water but still offers plenty of beautiful sights for hikers.
Canoeing, Kayaking and Paddleboarding at Ichetucknee Springs
Visitors are permitted to go canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding along the Ichetucknee River. You can bring your own equipment or rent from Paddling Adventures at the South Entrance. Visitors can enter the river with their paddling equipment from both the North and South entrances.
Paddling down the Ichetucknee River is an inviting and serene experience. The area is known for its variety of wildlife, mostly water birds and is surrounded by cypress trees and other flora. During the cooler months manatees are sometimes spotted in the river if the water isn’t too shallow.
Swimming, Snorkeling and Tubing at Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Snorkeling and swimming is permitted at the springs year round. Since the water is at a constant 72 degrees, visitors can comfortably enjoy relaxing in the crystal-clear river any time of the year. You can enter the swimming and snorkeling area via the north entrance. It is advised that only experienced swimmers or divers enter the Blue Hole Spring due to the depth and strong current.
Ichetucknee Springs tubing is another fun activity which can be done year round on the river. Visitors can either bring their own or rent from inside the park.
To Protect the River, These Items are Not Permitted
- Food and drinks
- Pets (not permitted on the trails to the springs or river or in the river)
- Disposable Items
Scuba Diving at the Ichetucknee Springs Blue Hole
Scuba diving is permitted only in the blue hole due to the depth of the spring. Diving is not allowed in the river or anywhere except for the blue hole. Divers must also be certified in cave or cavern diving.
Ichetucknee Springs Quick Facts
|Hours of Opening||8:00 AM until Sunset|
|Address||12087 S.W. U.S. Highway 27 |
Fort White FL 32038
|Cost||$6 per vehicle. Paid online or via envelope|
|Open Entrances||North & South|
|Pets Allowed||Yes, on a leash and only on the Trestle Point and Pine Ridge Trail at the north entrance|
How to Get to Ichetucknee Springs
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is easy to get to especially if you are staying nearby in Alachua or Gainesville. From Alachua you will drive about 30 minutes along US 441 where you’ll start to see signs pointing you in the right direction.
Gilchrist Blue Springs
Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park connects with the Santa Fe River and offers water lovers an idyllic setting to immerse themselves in nature. The river flows through quiet, wooded areas ultimately opening up to larger natural springs perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Gilchrist Blue Springs Camping
Within Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park visitors have access to 25 campsites. This includes both RV and tent camping. There are 17 sites available for RV’s and 8 sites reserved for tent camping.
The campsites at Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs can be made in advance by booking online or calling. You can make an online reservation through Reserve America. Alternatively you can call 800-326-3521 between 8 am to 8 pm or call TDD at 888-433-0287
Water Activities at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park
Snorkeling, swimming and paddling are the most popular things to do at Gilchrist Blue Springs. Since the water temperature is fairly warm year round visitors come all seasons to enjoy the tranquility of the springs.
Snorkeling and swimming is only permitted in designated areas. If you are inside the water make sure you are careful around the natural wildlife.
Kayaks and canoes can be rented inside Gilchrist Blue Springs from Anderson’s Outdoor Adventures. Single kayaks and paddle boards are $22 for a 2-hour rental. Tandem kayaks or canoes are $27 for a 2-hour minimum rental.
Gilchrist Blue Springs Quick Facts
|Hours of Opening||8:00 AM until Sunset|
|Address||7450 N.E. 60th St. |
High Springs FL 32643
|Cost||$4-$6 per vehicle. Paid online or via envelope upon arrival|
|Open Entrances||Main Entrance|
How to Get to Gilchrist Blue Springs
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is located about 13 miles (20 minutes) from Alachua, Florida. The drive to reach the springs is easy and is mainly along the small back roads. As you approach the springs you will see signs pointing you in the right direction.
Less than 5 miles from Gilchrist Blue Springs is Ginnie Springs. Ginnie Springs is privately owned which means that there are less rules for visitors. There is no tube size requirements and alcohol is allowed within the park. This is one of the main reasons that Ginnie Springs is so popular but it also come with a $15 per person entrance fee.
Stay in a Tiny House Near the Florida Springs
Many of the Florida springs are somewhat isolated, including Ichetucknee and Gilchrist Blue Springs. Due to this, many of the larger cities are a little far and many visitors choose to stay in the nearby smaller towns. This is exactly what I did during my visit to the Florida springs.
For the duration of my stay I based myself out of the small town of Alachua. Located only about 30 minutes north of Gainesville, Alachua is home to the cutest tiny home which makes for a cozy place to stay while exploring the surrounding area.
Built in November 2020, the Chandra Tiny Home is a custom built house created by Simplify Further. Chandra is a 16×8 private tiny home with a kitchen suitable for light cooking as well as air-conditioning and a space heater. The entire layout of the tiny house was carefully thought out to create a spacious interior while remaining true to the tiny home aesthetic.
When you step inside the Chandra house you will be greeted with the coziest boho vibes and stunning interior design. The loft bed is incredibly comfortable and easily accessible via a built in step ladder.
Simplify Further provides its’ guest with the highest customer service. They are quick to respond to any inquiries and are nearby should you need anything during your stay. I would highly recommend staying at the Chandra Tiny House, or one of their other tiny homes, while exploring the nearby springs.
Good to Know: Starting February 2021 pets will only be allowed to stay at the Chai and Shanti tiny homes.