Ruth B Kirby Gilchrist Blue Spring State Park
The newest addition to Florida State Parks, the Ruth B Kirby Gilchrist Blue Spring State Park, spans 407 acres and is home to six natural springs. It also boasts the inclusion of the Gilchrist Blue, a second magnitude spring that delivers up to 44 million gallons of water per day. This shallow spring discharges along a quarter-mile run to the Santa Fe River. The shockingly crystal-clear, blue water is awe-inspiring and a major draw of this state park.
Visitors can enjoy the beautiful vistas surrounding the springs that provide unmatched photographic opportunities. Additionally, the floodplains and spring-fed streams are home to wondrous ecological habitats. For instance, the mainspring is celebrated for the amazingly diverse wildlife species, including turtles and a wide variety of invertebrates. The unparalleled clarity of the water allows for unobstructed viewing of numerous types of fish, such as bluegill, spotted sunfish, and redbreast sunfish.
Another notable feature of this state park is the opportunity to participate in an outdoor game called Geocaching. Players use hand-held, global positioning system (GPS) devices to join in a high-tech treasure hunt. Through the use of location coordinates, players search for caches. There are different levels of difficulty in finding the caches, with some being easy to find and others proving more challenging. It is a great way to learn about and explore the park without endangering the park’s complex yet delicate natural resources.
If you love the water, you will not want to miss the opportunity to enjoy all of the fun these springs have to offer. You can take your paddleboard, for instance, on an unhurried trip down the spring, enjoying the early morning fog as it floats gently across the water while relishing in the chance to see all of the beautiful wildlife living in and around the spring. If you do not own a board, paddling equipment is available for rent.
If getting into the water is your thing, swimming opportunities abound. Thanks to the incredibly clear water, snorkelers can enjoy various plants and numerous types of fish and turtles. Finally, hiking, as well as nature study, are extremely popular at his park due to the surrounding beauty and the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife species.
Visitors can enjoy a leisurely drive to Gainesville where there are a variety of attractions to choose from.
Encompassing 6,400 square feet, this screened-in, living exhibit provides an area that is exposed to typical Florida weather, resulting in a more natural environment home to an assortment of butterflies as well as birds, fish, and turtles. There are typically over 50 species of butterflies flying freely throughout this exhibit.
Visitors can the waterfalls, which is home to lush tropical plants and flowering plants bursting with color. Every weekday at 2 pm and twice on Saturday and Sunday visitors are privy to a one of a kind butterfly release.
For history buffs, there is nothing quite like a stroll through the past. The Thomas Center, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a Mediterranean Revival-style hotel restored to its 1920’s glory. A visit to this center allows you to experience period rooms as well as exhibits covering local history. In addition to being a free experience, you can download the free app to enhance your tour of this historical site.
Free of charge and fully staffed, Depot Park is a fun, outdoor place filled with water soakers, ground jets, and a custom splash pad of waterfalls for a day packed with family fun. In addition to the water fun, the park hosts art festivals and musical performances.
Ruth B Kirby Gilchrist Blue Spring State Park features 17 RV sites that are dog-friendly. On-site are 30-amp hook-ups that make RV camping sites fully capable of powering your camping refrigerator or portable television. The sites range from 25 to 40 feet, and most support back-in parking. A couple sites, however, provide pull-through access.
Length of stay
RV campers can stay up to 14 consecutive nights. Note: the park manager may be able to extend your stay to an additional 14 nights, but this option is based on availability.
Pets are allowed in the RV campsite; however, they are not allowed in any other public access areas. Services animals are permitted in all public areas.
Booking your stay
You can make a reservation through ReserveAmerica, or you may reserve by phone. Sites can be reserved up to 11 months in advance, and your credit card will be charged in-full at $24 per day/night. Tax is additional. A $6.70 reservation fee is included and non-refundable. Cancellations prior to the arrival date will incur a $17.75 fee, and cancellations on the day of or following your arrival will include an additional first night’s use fee.
Eligibility for a 50-percent discount requires the following identification.
- Federal government disability
- Social security disability
- Florida resident at least 65 years of age
For more information, visit the Ruth B Kirby Gilchrist Blue Sprints State Park page on floridastateparks.org or call 386.454.1369.