Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Recreation & Parks
2100 West French Ave., Orange
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.
MANATEES ARE BACK!
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
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:
WEST VOLUSIA AND THE ST. JOHNS RIVER
- A 15,000-YEAR LOVE AFFAIR -
For more information about other
state parks please visit:
Planet DeLand Encounter's State Park Section
Other West Volusia State
Copyright © Tinker Graphics & Promotions