Where is Blue Spring State Park
Located just west of Orange City, Blue Spring State Park resides entirely within the state of Florida. The state park’s name stems from the Volusia Blue Spring that is found in the park. Outdoor activities available to visitors of the park include SCUBA diving, swimming, fishing, kayaking, camping, hiking, and wildlife viewing. The park is famous for the manatee population that congregates in the park’s waters in the Winter. Blue Springs State Park is located 115 miles and a one hour and forty-five-minute drive south of Jacksonville, 117 miles and about a three-hour drive northeast of Tampa, and 33 miles and a forty-five-minute drive north of Orlando. The park also resides near several other outdoor recreation areas found in Florida. These recreation areas include Seminole State Forest, Ocala National Forest, and the Rock Springs Run State Preserve.
How Large is Blue Spring State Park
Blue Springs US State Park covers more than 2,650 acres. The park’s geography mainly consists of the few miles of the Volusia Blue Spring and the surrounding marsh lands and coastal forests. Every day about 102 million US gallons of water flow out of the Volusia Blue Spring into the St. Johns River. The congregation of manatees that occurs in the spring in the winter is one of the largest populations that gathers in the United States. This population draws crowds of visitors to Blue Springs State Park in the winter. However, visitation numbers remain steady throughout the entire year. The park’s campsite contains 51 campsites and six cabins that visitors can reserve during their stay at the park.
Blue Spring State Park Weather
The weather at Blue Spring State Park varies throughout the year. In summer, temperatures in the park average between 70 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures in the park average between 45- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest days of the year arrive at the park in July and August. The coldest days appear in Blue Spring State Park in January and February. On average, Blue Spring State Park sees about 85 days of rain per year. The total accumulation of rainfall throughout the year in the park is about 50 inches. The park also experiences around 14 hours of daylight during the summer months, and about 11 hours of daylight in the winter months.
When did Blue Spring Become a State Park
Blue Spring State Park first became a state park in 1972. Early American botanist, John Bartram visited the land that now makes up Blue Spring State Park in 1776. The botanist was one of the first individuals to study and record the vegetation and wildlife species found in the region. A wealthy family purchased the land in the mid-19th century and used it for citrus fruit cultivation. A deep freeze wiped out their groves one winter and they switched to the tourism trade. In 1972, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection acquired Blue Spring State Park to kickstart its manatee protection program.
Things to do in Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park offers visitors the opportunity to experience several recreation activities including wildlife viewing, swimming, SCUBA diving and more. The park’s most notable adventurous and activities are listed below courtesy of our State Park Visitors Guides.
Participate in an Interpretive Program
Visitors arriving at Blue Spring State Park to learn about the park’s ecology, history, and wildlife will want to participate in one of the many interpretive programs offered by the park. During the manatee season, the park offers multiple interpretive programs every day that discuss topics related to the species, its habitat, and human interaction. The park’s programs operate on a rotating schedule. However, an up to date schedule can be viewed on the park’s website.
Walk on the Spring Run Boardwalk
The Spring Run Boardwalk at Blue Spring State Park is the perfect way for visitors to become familiar with the park and its ecosystems. The boardwalk features several kiosks and interpretive displays that discuss vegetation, wildlife, and geological features found in the park. The walk on the Spring Run Boardwalk is easy and accessible to hikers and other visitors with a variety of skill levels.
Hike the Pine Island Trail
Visitors of Blue Spring State Park looking for a more challenging hike should embark down the park’s Pine Island Trail. The trail traverses several different types of terrain found in the park and guides visitors through several different plant communities found in the park. The Pine Island Trail takes hikers through desert scrub to the St. John’s River.
Kayak Blue Spring Run
Another popular activity visitor will find when they arrive at Blue Spring State Park is kayaking the Blue Spring Run. Visitors can rent kayaks and canoes in the park from Blue Springs Adventures, and paddle through Blue Spring Run and the St. John’s River. During manatee season Blue Spring Run, a designated manatee refuge, is closed to public access. This closure prohibits kayaking, canoeing, swimming, or any other recreational activity.
SCUBA Diving in the Park
Certified SCUBA divers visiting Blue Spring State Park are able to access the park’s waters. These divers will need to bring proof of their certification, have a dive buddy, and obey all other waterway rules. SCUBA diving is not permitted in Blue Spring Run during manatee season.
Visit the Historic Thursby House
The historic Thursby House at Blue Spring State Park houses several interpretive exhibits that focus on the park’s creation, history, and culture. The house itself was constructed in 1872 from center cut pine that was milled in Savannah, Georgia.
Wildlife enthusiasts visiting Blue Spring State Park will be able to spot a variety of species that call the park home. The park’s most notable species, the West Indian manatee, is most active in the park from November to March. During these months, the warm waters of the Volusia Blue Spring draw these graceful creatures into the park. Other wildlife commonly spotted throughout Blue Spring State Park includes alligators, bears, racoons, and a variety of birds, amphibians, and other reptiles.
Camping at Blue Spring State Park
The campground at Blue Spring State Park contains 51 campsites and six cabins. These cabins are outfitted with two bedrooms, central heating and cooling, a full kitchen, and a bathroom. Visitors looking to stay in one of the park’s cabins or at one of the park’s campsites can make reservations online through the park’s website and reservation portal.
When to Visit Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park is open to the public throughout the entire year. However, visitors should plan their visit around when the activities they hope to experience are possible in the park. Spring and summer are good seasons for visitors who are looking to hike, swim, SCUBA dive, or kayak in the park to visit. However, visitors looking to spot manatees in Blue Spring Run will want to plan their visit to the park from November to March. The population of West Indian manatees that congregate in the park are attracted to the warm waters of the Volusia Blue Spring and normally arrive in the winter.
Must Have Items to Bring to Blue Spring State Park
Every trip outdoors requires packing and planning, and a trip to Blue Spring State Park is no exception. Below is a list of essential items visitors may want to consider bringing along with them to the park.
Water & High-Energy Snacks
List of Parks highly advises that water is an essential item for every trip outdoors, and campers and other visitors who expect to spend an extended amount of time in the sun should bring additional supplies of water with them to Blue Spring State Park. The best snacks for hiking and other outdoor activities are lightweight, easy, and full of energy. Beef jerky, protein bars, dried fruit, and trail mix are great options for visitors to bring with them to the park.
There are quite a few camping supplies visitors looking to camp within Blue Spring State Park will want to remember to bring with them. Obvious items include tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, and blankets. However, campers will also want to bring flashlights, extra batteries, camping pillows, and other camping equipment. The best way to make sure you have packed all of your camping equipment before leaving the house is to create and utilize a camping checklist.
Wildlife Field Guides
The best way to view and learn about Blue Spring State Park’s wildlife is by utilizing a wildlife field guide. There are several different field guides on the market. Visitors should look to purchase a field guide designated for North America that is equipped with color images. These images will make field identification easy and enjoyable.
Swimsuit, Sunglasses, & Sunscreen
These three items will keep visitors looking to enjoy the waters of Blue Spring State Park comfortable and protected from the Florida sun’s rays. Visitors may also find that a hat is necessary for their trip to the park.
Visitors arriving at Blue Spring State Park should look to access and study park maps. These maps can be found online and at the park’s entrance stations.
Where to Stay in Blue Spring State Park
Visitors looking to stay within Blue Spring State Park will want to obtain a reservation for one of the park’s campsites or cabins. These reservations can be made online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors looking to stay in a hotel near the park will want to first check out options in Orange City. However, additional lodging options can be found forty-five minutes south of the park in Orlando.
Food Near Blue Spring State Park
The closest food to Blue Spring State Park is located in Orange City. This town contains several restaurants and a few grocery stores that are located only a few minutes away from the park. However, visitors looking for additional options or a larger culinary scene should make the forty-five-minute drive to Orlando. One of the larger Florida cities, Orlando contains an unlimited array of restaurants, bars, and grocery stores.
Airports Near Blue Spring State Park
The closest international airport to Blue Spring State Park is located south of the park in Orlando. The Orlando International Airport is located 50 miles and about an hour drive away from Blue Spring State Park. The next closest international airports to Blue Spring State Park are located in Tampa and Jacksonville. The Tampa International Airport is located 124 miles and a two-hour drive from the park. The Jacksonville International Airport is located 130 miles and also about a two-hour drive from the park.