The Suwannee River in Florida. Photo: Ron Bennett/Shutterstock.com
1. Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park
Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is located in Gilchrist County, about 5 miles to the west of the High Springs, FL, just 25 miles south of Lake City and about 20 miles northwest of Gainesville. This spring, also known as Gilchrist Blue, has crystal-clear water clarity and discharges water through a shallow spring run about one-quarter mile to the Santa Fe River. The park has a collection of natural springs that produce an average of 44 million gallons of water per day. Learn more at the Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park website.
2. Ichetucknee Springs State Park
This wildlife haven comprises 2,669-acres and is filled with many pristine waters coming from the Ichetucknee River. The park’s eight major crystalline springs join together to create the six-mile river. The upper portion within the state park is a National Natural Landmark. This river is best enjoyed canoeing or kayaking during the cooler months. Please visit the Ichetucknee Springs State Park website for more.
3. Ginnie Springs
Swimming and snorkeling in the crystal-clear 72-degree water is possible year round at Ginnie Springs. The park has three different dive sites where certified scuba divers can experience what this great park has to offer. Tubes, masks, fins, and snorkels can be rented at the Ginnie Springs General Store. For more information, please visit the Ginnie Springs website or the Ginnie Springs Facebook page.
4. Kelly Park
Kelly Park features a free-flowing natural spring (68 degrees year round), full-service concession, picnic pavilions and playground for your enjoyment. Tube rentals are available from vendors outside the park. You may bring your own pool noodles or floats, which must be less than five feet in length or width. Arrive early so you can enjoy floating up and down the river before the crowds get there. Check out the Kelly Park website for more information.
5. K. P. Hole County Park
K. P. Hole County Park was established in the early 1920s as a boys retreat. In the late 1930s, women were allowed access to the facility. At K.P. Hole, the spring-fed Rainbow River allows visitors a chance to explore and enjoy the best of the park. Let yourself be open to encountering the wildlife at the park: alligators, turtles, otters, birds and fish (from a safe distance, of course).
The Rainbow River is considered one of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) Special Waters on their list of Outstanding Florida Waters. The FDEP has also named the Rainbow River one of the state’s Aquatic Preserves. Learn more about the park and the Rainbow River at the K. P. Hole County Park website.
6. Rainbow Springs State Park
Three large, man-made waterfalls tell the story to this day about how people made Rainbow Springs a reality. The water in Rainbow Springs is extraordinarily clear, offering a window into a diverse aquatic habitat. The flow of the spring is the fourth highest among all the springs in Florida.
The average depth in the natural swimming area runs from 5 to 18 feet, and the water temperature averages 72 degrees year-round. Swimming, snorkeling and water tubing are popular activities that allow visitors to see the underwater creatures that live here. If you are careful and mind your distance, you may even interact with some of them. Visit the Rainbow Springs State Park website to see for yourself.
Mike has more than 30 years of experience in marketing and public relations. He once owned his own agency and has worked with some of the largest brands in the world.