Where is Florida Caverns State Park
Located on the state’s panhandle, Florida Caverns State Park resides entirely within the state of Florida. The state park is best known for the limestone caverns that feature stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, and other geologic features. However, the state park also contains a visitor center, hiking trails, a golf course, campground, and areas designated for fishing. The closest city to Florida Caverns State Park is Marianna, Florida in Jackson County. The state park is located 183 miles (a two hour and forty-five-minute drive) east of Mobile, Alabama. The Park is 137 miles (a two hour and thirty-minute drive) south of Columbus, Georgia. And the Park is 69 miles (a one hour and fifteen-minute drive) away from Tallahassee, Florida. Florida Caverns US State Park is also located near several other outdoor recreation areas. These areas include Tate’s Hell State Forest, Blackwater River State Forest, and Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area.
How Large is Florida Caverns State Park
Florida Caverns State Park covers a total area of around 1,500 acres. The state park’s geography mainly consists of the underground caverns and above ground riparian areas. The campground of Florida Caverns State Park contains 38 campsites suited for recreational vehicles and tent campers. Thirty-two of these campgrounds are equipped with electric and water hookups. The park also contains several trails designated for hiking, walking, running, biking, and equestrian use.
Florida Caverns State Park Weather
The weather at Florida Caverns State Park varies frequently throughout the year. In the summer, temperatures in the park average between 70- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit. In winter, these temperatures cool considerably and average between 45- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperatures of the year arrive at the park in June, July, and August, and the coldest temperatures find the park in December and January. On average, Florida Caverns State Park receives around 75 days of rain per year. These 75 days of rain accumulate to a yearly average of around 50 inches. Florida Caverns State Park rarely experiences snowfall. The average length of daylight present in the park in the summer is 14.5 hours. In the winter, the average is around 10.5 hours of daylight.
When did Florida Caverns Become a State Park
Florida Caverns State Park first became a state park in 1942. The state park was developed in order to protect its namesake limestone caverns. The park and the golf course were constructed as a part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal through coordination with the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 2013, the park and its features attracted over 107,000 visitors from around the country. The park is managed and maintained by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. In the summer of 2020, hurricane Michael ravaged the state of Florida. The winds and flooding from the coastal storm damaged several of the park’s facilities including the park’s campgrounds and trail system.
Things to do in Florida Caverns State Park
Florida Caverns State Park provides visitors with several opportunities to explore the great outdoors and underground geography of Florida. Our State Park Visitors Guide outlines the most popular and intriguing adventures found in the state park.
Explore the Visitor Center
The visitor center at Florida Caverns State Park is the perfect place for visitors to start their Florida state park adventure. The facility contains several educational displays and exhibits that discuss a variety of topics relating to the state park. The visitor center is also the perfect place for visitors to obtain tickets for the park’s cave tours, park maps, and additional information regarding camping or the park in general. Park staff working in the visitor center can also assist visitors by answering specific questions they may have about the park or their trip.
Join an Interpretive Program
Visitors interested in learning more about Florida Caverns State Park after leaving the visitor center should look to join in one or more of the interpretive programs offered throughout the park. These programs touch upon topics related to the park’s caverns, wildlife, history, and future. All programs offered by Florida Caverns State Park are led by knowledgeable park staff or experienced volunteers. The programs offered at the state park operate on a rotating schedule. The weekly interpretive program schedule is normally posted throughout the park’s visitor center.
Take a Tour of the Caverns
The limestone caverns of Florida Caverns State Park draw a variety of visitors to the park. These visitors and others who are interested in learning more about the caverns should embark on one of the guided cave tours offered by the state park. Visitors can choose between several tours offered by the state park, but each tour offers visitors the opportunity to see the inside of the Florida Caverns and view several different geologic formations.
Cast a Fishing Line in the Park
Anglers visiting Florida Caverns State Park will want to bring all of their freshwater fishing equipment along with them to the park. The park provides access to the Chipola River. Anglers fishing on the river are likely to catch redbreast, redear, and bluegill sunfish, largemouth bass, and possibly the unique shoal bass. All visitors of Florida Caverns State Park who wish to fish on the Chipola river will need to first obtain a valid Florida State fishing license. All Florida freshwater fishing regulations also apply within the state park and on the Chipola river.
Wildlife Viewing in the Park
Florida Caverns State Park provides a home to a variety of wildlife species. The species most commonly spotted by visitors traveling throughout the park are alligators, beavers, herons, egrets, other shore birds, and a variety of other reptiles and amphibians. Visitors looking for more information regarding the park’s wildlife can ask questions in the park’s visitor center.
Camping in Florida Caverns State Park
The campground at Florida Caverns State Park contains 38 campsites. These campsites include sites suited for recreational vehicles and tent campers. All visitors wishing to camp overnight within Florida Caverns State Park can make reservations for the park’s campsites online through the park’s website and reservation portal. The campground reaches capacity frequently during the summer. Visitors wishing to camp in the park during the season should make their reservations several weeks in advance.
When to Visit Florida Caverns State Park
Florida Caverns State Park is open throughout the year, and visitors looking to explore the park can plan their visit during any season. The park receives most of its visitation during the summer season. During this season, temperatures in the park are the most conducive to outdoor recreation. The season also supports the largest offering of interpretive programs. Visitors wishing to beat the crowds that form in the park in the summer should look to visit Florida Caverns State Park in the spring or fall. These seasons bring increased wildlife activity and fine temperatures.
Must Have Items to Bring to the Park
Every outdoor recreation trip requires a series of helpful, protective, and essential equipment. A successful trip to Florida Caverns State Park is no exception. Listed below are a few essential items every visitor will want to remember to bring with them to the park.
Water & High Energy Snacks
Water and high energy snacks are highly suggested by List of Parks to be essential for every trip outdoors. Hikers and other visitors expecting to spend extended periods of time in the sun should bring additional supplies of water. Snacks such as beef jerky, protein bars, trail mix, and dried fruit are best because they are lightweight, easy to consume, and full of energy.
Sturdy Hiking Boots
A sturdy pair of hiking boots will allow every visitor to traverse the various trials found in Florida Caverns State Park. Avid hikers or those who plan to hike frequently in the future should invest in a lightweight and waterproof pair of hiking boots for added protection and comfort.
Angler’s visiting Florida Caverns State Park will want to bring their rod, reel, and freshwater fishing tackle to the park. All anglers who are hoping to catch various species on the Chipola River will also want to obtain a Florida state fishing license prior to casting a line in the park. These licenses can be obtained online through the states recreational license portal or from local issuing establishments.
Remembering all of the necessary equipment needed for your camping trip can be tough and time consuming. However, one method that can help is to create and utilize a hiking checklist. These checklists are very helpful and can be checked once while packing and again before leaving your driveway.
Visitors looking to experience and learn more about the wildlife found in Florida Caverns State Park may want to purchase a wildlife field guide to bring along with them to the park. These field guides normally contain color photos and lengthy descriptions that make identification easy. Additional field guides can be purchased to aid in the identification of vegetation and avian species found throughout the state park.
Where to Stay in Florida Caverns State Park
Visitors looking to stay within Florida Caverns State Park should make a reservation for one of the park’s campsites. Visitors can make their desired campsite reservations online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors looking to stay at a hotel near the park can first search for options in Marianna and other surrounding cities. However, additional and more diverse options await visitors in Tallahassee or Columbus, Georgia.
Food Near Florida Caverns State Park
The closest food to Florida Caverns State Park is located in Marianna and the city’s surrounding area. Visitors looking for something specific or a larger culinary scene should make the drive to either Tallahassee, Pensacola, or Columbus, Georgia. Tallahassee is about a one hour and fifteen-minute drive away from the park, Pensacola is about a two-hour drive away, and Columbus, Georgia is about a two hour and thirty-minute drive away from the park.
Airports Near Florida Caverns State Park
The closest international airport to Florida Caverns State Park is located in Tallahassee. The Tallahassee International Airport is located 68 miles and about a one hour and fifteen-minute drive away from the park. The next closest international airport to Florida Caverns State Park is located two hours away in Pensacola. The Pensacola International Airport is 132 miles away from Florida Caverns State Park.