Canoeing on the spring run at Blue Spring State Park

On the more than 2,600 acres of Blue Spring State Park you'll find the largest spring on the St. Johns River. You'll also find a designated Manatee Refuge and a growing population of wintering manatees. Because of the number of manatees that do winter at Blue Spring, the spring and spring run are closed to all human traffic from mid-November through mid-March. Swimming, diving or snorkeling with the manatees is not allowed.

St. Johns River Cruises offers two-hour narrated ecological and nature cruises on Blue Spring and the St. Johns River. The cruises embark twice daily, at 10 am and 1 pm. For info: St. Johns River Cruises.

The campground at Blue Spring State Park is located in sand pine scrub, within walking distance of the spring. All 51 campsites have picnic tables, grills, water and electric. A central RV dump station is nearby. Maximum RV length: 40 feet.

Blue Spring State Park also offers 6 two-bedroom cabins for rent. Each cabin will accommodate up to six people with a double bed, two single beds and a sleeper-sofa in the living room. The cabins offer everything you might need except televisons, phones, personal items and food. Each cabin also has a screened porch, picnic table and outdoor grill. The cabins usually have a two-night stay requirement on weekends and holidays.

The only hiking trail is a self-guided boardwalk route that leads to Blue Spring. There are two separate picnic areas in the park, each with its own covered pavilions. One has a large, covered barbecue pit that can be reserved, for a fee. There are universally accessible restrooms near the picnic areas and in the campground.

Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, tubing, canoeing and kayaking are allowed in the spring and spring run except from mid-November to mid-March (because of the presence of manatees).

For day users, Blue Spring State Park is open from 8 am until sunset, every day of the year. Campers planning to arrive after sunset need to call the office the day of arrival to get instructions and the gate combination. Entry Fees: $6 per vehicle for up to eight occupants; $4 per single occupant vehicle; $2 each for pedestrians, bicyclists and extra passengers. Camping Fee: $24 per site per night (plus tax), includes water and electric. Cabin Fee: $95 per night (plus tax).

To get there: follow US Highways 17/92 to Orange City, then go west two miles on French Avenue to the park entrance.