Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Recreation & Parks

2100 West French Ave., Orange City, FL
(386) 775-3663

For hundreds of years the Timucuan Indians made the spring area their home. The spring run, river and the surrounding swamps and uplands provided food, clothing, shelter and materials for tools and weapons. Snails gathered from sandbars were a staple food for these people. Over the centuries, the discarded shells formed a massive mound.

Three years after England acquired Florida from Spain, John Bartram, a prominent British botanist, explored the St. Johns in search of resources of value to the Crown. On January 4th, 1766, he rowed his boat past sunning alligators into the clear water of Blue Spring.

By the mid- 1800's most of the Indians had been killed or driven south and pioneer settlers took their place. In 1872, the Thursby family built a large frame home atop the Indians' shell mound, safe from the floodwaters of the St. Johns. The pilings of the steamboat dock remain, relics of a bygone era.

The same pristine beauty enjoyed by Florida's earliest residents still can be seen today. A self-guided boardwalk guides visitors through a lush hammock to Blue Spring.


With the onset of cooler weather and lower water temperatures in the St Johns River; manatee sightings in and around Blue Spring are on the upswing. As we get further into the winter season, park visitors will be able to see manatees frequenting the Blue Spring run on almost a daily basis to stay warm. Temperatures in the spring run remain a constant 72 degrees; creating a safe haven for the West Indian Manatee.

The best time to view manatees is early in the morning on a cold winter day. Blue Spring is a designated manatee refuge. To provide a safe warm water refuge for manatees during the winter season, the spring and spring run is closed to all water related activities including swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and boating from November 15 through March 1. A mere 35 miles from hustle and bustle of Orlando and the Attractions, Blue Spring draws a year-round mix of families, nature lovers, picnickers, water enthusiasts, sun-worshipers and romantics. A single day can include a scenic river boat trip, a guided or solo canoe or kayak trip, bird or wildlife viewing, a picnic under the spreading Live Oaks, and a classic sunset over the historic St. Johns River. Winter park activities include St. Johns River Nature Cruises and guided canoe or kayak trips by a Florida Park Service Visitor Services Provider located along the banks of the river, and canoe rentals at the park snack bar. Pack binoculars and plenty of curiosity.

Please remember if you plan a trip to Blue Spring to arrive early as the park often reaches capacity on weekends, holidays and during Manatee Season and will close temporarily until overcrowded conditions ease. Visitors may also wish to visit our sister park, Hontoon Island across the St. Johns River. It is rarely as crowded as Blue Spring and is a great place to enjoy a quiet afternoon, fishing, hiking or simply enjoying nature. Please explore the Hontoon Island pages for details.
- Robert Rundle, Park Manager

Welcome to Blue Spring State Park

The largest spring on the St. Johns River, Blue Spring is a designated Manatee Refuge and the winter home (mid-November through March) to a growing population of West Indian Manatees. For centuries, the spring area was home for Native Americans. In 1766 it was visited by British botanist John Bartram, but it wasn´t until 1856 that it was settled by Louis Thursby and his family. The Thursby house, built in 1872, remains standing. The spring´s crystal clear, 73 degree water can be enjoyed by swimmers, snorkelers, and certified scuba divers with a partner. Swimming or diving with manatees is not permitted and is strictly enforced.

The river is popular for fishing, canoeing, and boating. River boat tours are available; for reservations, call St. Johns River Cruises at (386) 917-0724. The park has plenty of picnic areas and a hiking trail. For overnight stays, air-conditioned cabins, a full-facility campground, and primitive campsites are available. Located west of Orange City. Take U.S. 17/92 to Orange City, go west two miles on French Avenue to the entrance.



For more information on the evolution of this area please visit:

For more information about other state parks please visit:
The Planet DeLand Encounter's State Park Section

Other West Volusia State Parks:
DeLeon Springs  Blue Springs


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