Located just west of Orange City, Florida, Blue Spring State Park is one of the larger and more popular locations in the State’s park system. Its 2,600-acres includes the largest spring on the St. John’s River. One of the reasons that Blue Spring is so popular with tourists and locals is that it is a designated manatee refuge and the winter home to a growing population of West Indian Manatees. At the height of manatee season, which is believed to run from mid-November through March, the area is filled with several hundred manatees. These gentle giants migrate here because of the temperate waters and welcoming ecosystem.
The arrival of the mammals is often viewed as an exciting event by tourists.
Due to this fact, the park is known to have moments throughout the year wherein it reaches its capacity for foot traffic early in the day, creating a situation wherein guests have to be turned away. Though it is tempting to interact with the manatee, it should be noted that swimming or diving with them is not permitted. This rule is strictly enforced and anyone attempting to do so will be removed and fined.
Though the mammals are a huge draw for the park, the spring´s crystal clear, 73-degree year-round water is a bigger reason that people come to visit the park. The spring can be enjoyed by swimmers, snorkelers, and certified scuba divers with a partner during the designated swimming season. In addition, there are many opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and boating along the St. John’s River.
There is also an opportunity for visitors to take part in self-guided tours inside the historic Thursby House.
This notable home was built at the height of the steamboat era in 1872 and has been a part of the park’s tourism program for a number of years. In addition, the park has plenty of picnic areas as well as three covered pavilions readily available for use by you and your family. Air-conditioned cabins and a full-facility campground are available for visitors interested in staying overnight.
Blue Springs State Park is located just west of Orange City. The most direct route to get visitors to the park is to take U.S. 17/92 to Orange City, head west two miles onto French Avenue until you reach the entrance of the park.