Blue Spring State Park
Open year-round, Blue Spring State Park is nestled within 2,643 acres set alongside the St. Johns River in Volusia County just outside Orange City, Florida. In addition to the constant 72-degree waters, 21 natural communities, and two lagoons–as well as a first-magnitude spring–what truly makes this park extra special are the Florida manatees. This endangered marine mammal, also known as a sea cow, makes this park it’s home from November through March.
When conservation efforts began in 1970, just two years before the park was established, researchers had tracked just 14 manatees. After years of protection efforts and park improvements, the number of wintering manatee has currently reached over 500. Because manatee cannot tolerate water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time, the waters at this state park are vital to their survival.
The Spring Run boardwalk, which extends one-third of a mile from the St. Johns River to the head spring, allows visitors to safely view these amazing mammals as they enjoy the crystal-clear water of their natural habitat. In terms of spectacular things to do at state parks, there is nothing quite like watching these beautiful creatures socialize or catching a glimpse of mothers nursing their cute little calves.
Unfortunately, there remains a variety of threats to the continued survival of the manatee, such as pollution, habitat loss, and algae blooms. Worse, horrible accidents involving boats take their toll. Because of this, there are restrictions as to what visitors can do and cannot do in the water, ensuring Blue Spring State Park remains an important part of the ongoing conservation and rehabilitation efforts for this endangered species.
RV camping sites range in size from 20-feet to 45-feet, and the sites are all back-in sites. Handicap-accessible sites are also available. Each site has a maximum number of eight people per site. All sites provide water and electricity.
When visiting this state park, you can take part in a variety of popular activities, such as swimming, fishing, and snorkeling. For fun on the water, you can go tubing, kayaking, or canoeing. In addition to the ability to rent a canoe or kayak, you can enjoy a two-hour guided ecological cruise on the St. Johns River. However, any water-based activities are not allowed at the spring from November through March to allow for the manatees to live freely and safely.
If you like to hike, you should check out the Pine Island Trail. This four-and-one-half mile trek winds through the cypress swamp and pine Flatwoods. For the history buff in you, a visit to the 1872 Thursby House, currently an interpretive center and museum, is a must-see. Interestingly, it was built on top of a Timucan shell midden, one of the many middens found in this park. A midden is a pile of debris dating back to prehistoric societies and helps to illuminate a variety of aspects of the people that once lived there. Finally, if you love bird watching, you can enjoy the many varieties of wading birds, eagles, and ospreys.
There are numerous attractions close by for you to enjoy. For instance, Family Fun Town, a popular family draw, features go-karts, mini-golf, and batting cages. Additionally, children can visit the bungee bounce and arcade.
If you love art, you should consider a visit to Deland’s Museum of Florida Art, which promotes art created by Florida artists. In addition to enjoying the wonderful art, you can partake in a workshop on abstract painting.
The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden Center is another popular draw. Its incredible sanctuaries are dedicated to the preservation of endangered animals, such as the bald eagle and clouded leopard. Among the variety of things to do, you can enjoy the many zip lines and suspension bridges in the ZOOm Air Adventure Park.
For something a bit different and native to the area, you should consider visiting the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp. Founded in 1894, the camp has over 20 mediums, a variety of tours regarding the history of the camp, and the opportunity to learn about transfiguration and spiritualism.
RV campsite reservations can be placed up to 11 months before arrival. Your credit card will be charged in-full when reserving a site. In addition to the $24 per day/night fee (plus tax), you will be charged a non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. For those who meet the following requirements, you can receive a 50-percent discount.
- a resident of Florida and are a minimum of 65 years of age
- have a social security disability award certificate issued by the federal government
- have a 100 percent disability award certificate issued by the federal government
If you have to cancel–for any reason–there is a $17.75 cancellation fee for visits canceled prior to the arrival date. Cancellations made on the day of the arrival or after will have an additional $24 fee.
Visitors to Blue Spring State Park’s RV campsite are welcome to stay up to 14 consecutive nights. If you would like to stay longer, you must leave the park for three consecutive nights before returning. However, the park manager has some discretion and may be able to extend your stay an additional 14 nights. You should keep in mind though that the maximum stay length allowed is 28 consecutive days.
Pets are permitted in the RV campsite. They are not permitted in the following areas.
- bathing areas
- concession areas
If you have a service animal, he or she is permitted access to all public areas.
For more information visit the Blue Spring State Park page or call 386.775.3663.