Alexander Springs

Alexander Springs is one of the best springs in Florida. The spring’s water is clean and incredibly clear. 

The bottom is mostly sand, with some exposed limestone and areas of aquatic grasses, which are important for the springs’ water quality and environmental health. 

Alexander Springs is one of 27 first-magnitude springs in Florida, and is designated as an Outstanding Florida Spring.

Alexander Springs is one of several natural springs in Ocala National Forest, and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Alexander Springs has some of the cleanest spring water in Florida. Unlike other springs in Florida, the water is not excessively polluted by nutrients or sewage contamination. 

The water quality is healthy because the springshed and “recharge area”, or the land area which feeds water into the springs, is protected natural forest. 

It is not contaminated by leaking septic tanks, industrial agriculture, oily road runoff, or other sources of Florida’s water contamination crisis.

Visiting Alexander Springs

The Alexander Springs recreation area is open to the public from 8am to 8pm daily.

Campers staying inside the campground are given a code for 24 hour campground gate access.

The grounds and facilities in Alexander Springs Recreation Area are generally very nice. 

The recreation area has approximately 60 picnic tables scattered around the grounds, along with approximately 40 charcoal BBQ grills. There are also two picnic shelters.

There are nice enclosed bathrooms with changing areas, hot showers and flush toilets. 

The restrooms and bath houses are generally kept clean, but the actual condition will depend on how respectful other visitors are that day. 

Alligators, snakes, bears and racoons are common inside the Alexander Springs recreation area and campground.

Visitors and campers should be bear-aware, and manage their food and gear responsibly to help keep humans and wildlife safe from dangerous encounters.

Dogs are generally not allowed at Alexander Springs, except for inside the campground and in some certain areas. 

More information is available from the U.S. Forest Service website, and the private park concessionaire, Ocala Adventures

Things to Bring to Alexander Springs

Packing list ideas include typical items you would bring to a beach, picnic or waterpark:

  • Floats, inner tubes, water noodles
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sun-proof clothing
  • Swimming goggles or mask and snorkel
  • A waterproof phone protector
  • A waterproof or underwater camera
  • A wetsuit, if desired

There is a private vendor on-site which sells basic supplies, including a limited offering of snacks, ice and other necessities. 

The store is located near the Alexander Springs pool and swimming area.

The store’s selection is limited, and availability may be limited, so visitors are advised to bring their own gear whenever possible.

Alexander Springs Admission Fees

This information is subject to change, it’s always best to check the official website for updated details.

Weekdays, Monday-Friday$8 per person, plus tax
Weekends$11 per person, plus tax
Annual Pass$72.50 Plus Tax

The Best Time to Visit Alexander Springs

Alexander Springs is one of the most popular places to visit inside Ocala National Forest, so it can get crowded.

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Alexander Springs is usually most crowded during warm summer months, especially on weekends and holidays. 

Like many springs in Florida, Alexander Springs can sometimes have restricted access during peak visitation times, when the site reaches maximum capacity. 

Visitors should plan ahead and be aware of this, especially if visiting during peak times on warm weekends and holidays.

If you will visit during a peak time, be sure to arrive and plan to be at the gate significantly before the park opens.

The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are nice times to visit Alexander Springs. These times have warm weather, and crowds are much lower than during the peak summer season. 

Fall also offers the chance to see fall colors as the leaves change. The colors are rather vibrant by Florida standards. 

Swimming and Snorkeling in Alexander Springs

Swimming and snorkeling are some of the most popular things to do in Alexander Springs, along with paddling the Alexander Springs run. 

The spring is very nice to swim in. It has a sandy bottom and a natural beach entry, with a gradual, gentle slope. 

Some parts of Alexander Springs have been modified with cement retaining walls to prevent erosion. 

The water temperature in Alexander Springs stays a constant 72 degrees year-round, because the water comes from Florida’s aquifer, deep underground. 

The water feels very chilly in the summer and surprisingly warm in cool weather. 

Wetsuits are recommended for anyone who gets cold easily, or wants to stay in the water for a long time.

Visitors should bring snorkeling gear and a waterproof camera to capture the beauty of the spring. 

Many visitors also recommend bringing inner tubes, floats or water noodles to float on. Some areas of Alexander Springs are too deep to stand, and crowds tend to gather in the shallow areas.

Lifeguards are on duty daily during the summer season, from May 15 until September 15.

Camping at Alexander Springs

There is on-site camping at Alexander Springs, reservations can be made at Recreation.gov.

The Alexander Springs campground has 67 campsites with a mixture of tent and RV campsites. 

In the past some campsites were reserved for first-come, first-serve campers, but many visitors report that all campsites are now reservation-only.

The Alexander Springs campground is generally very nice. The campground has four loops with bath houses, hot showers and one dump station. 

Campsites are larger than most state parks in Florida, although they do not feel very private from one another.

Campsites include bear boxes and a hanging pole for lanterns or other uses. Campsites also have fire rings and charcoal BBQ grills.

One downside of camping at Alexander Springs is that water or electrical hookups are not offered in the Alexander Springs campground. 

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Due to the lack of electrical hookups, many RVs and travel trailers run their generators. This creates unnecessary noise and even exhaust fumes, and can create a disturbance for tent campers. 

There is a curfew for running generators, but it is still a noisy and unnecessary nuisance. 

Canoeing and Kayaking Alexander Springs

Canoeing and kayaking in Alexander Springs Run are very popular activities.

On-site canoe and kayak rentals are available from a private concessionaire. 

Canoe and kayak rentals are available for a variety of rental periods, ranging from two-hours up to half day or full day.

Depending on your paddling speed, wind conditions, the water flow, and how far you paddle, the trip can usually be done in less than a four hour window. 

Kayak and canoe rentals are generally available in the summer months, but may be unavailable during the winter offseason. 

Note: Availability may vary! Canoe and kayak rentals are temporarily unavailable as of this writing. Visitors should be sure to check the concessionaire website or call ahead when making plans. Contact information is listed at the bottom of this webpage.

The Alexander Springs run is broad, wide and slow moving. 

Most people paddle downstream to the County Road (CR) 445 highway bridge, and then turn around to return. There are some smaller creeks which branch off of the main spring run.

Paddlers must return upstream to their point of departure; there is no pre-arranged shuttle option. 

The current is generally not strong, but paddles should keep this in mind when deciding how far downstream to paddle. Be sure to save enough time and energy for the return trip!

Paddlers should be mindful of the sun during hot weather. There is virtually no shade available in the spring run, and places to stop are limited. 

Paddlers should also pay attention to the weather, especially in the summer when afternoon thunderstorms are common.

Motorboats are not allowed north of the bridge, but you may encounter them below the CR445 bridge.

Scuba diving Alexander Springs

Scuba diving is allowed inside Alexander Springs; it is the only scuba diving site in Ocala National Forest. 

SCUBA Diving is only available for certified divers. Diving requires an additional fee and certain rules must be followed.

Hiking Alexander Springs

Note: Recent visitors report that the Timucuan Trail has sometimes been closed for maintenance or other factors. 

Be sure to call ahead to ask about the trail before visiting or paying to avoid potential disappointment.

Many visitors report that they were annoyed because they visited specifically for the trail, which was closed without notice, and were denied refunds.

The Timucuan Trail is an easy walking trail inside the Alexander Springs Recreation Area. The path consists of a one-mile loop trail on a raised wooden boardwalk. 

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The narrow, raised pathway leads through a dense, tropical jungle of native palm hammock ecosystem. It generally follows along the Alexander Springs run. 

There is a paved path around the spring basin with beautiful views of Alexander Springs. 

There are other hiking trails in the area as well, including the Alexander Springs Spur trail.

Wildlife in Alexander Springs

Alexander Springs is located in Ocala National Forest, so there is a wide range of native wildlife in the area.

Bears, raccoons and other wildlife live in the area, so extreme care should be taken to protect food from wildlife.

Wild animals who learn to associate humans with food become dangerous. They must often be euthanized due to unsafe behaviors and human interactions.

Are there alligators in Alexander Springs?

There are alligators in Alexander Springs. Alligators and snakes are commonly seen in both Alexander Springs and throughout the spring run. Visitors should remain aware of their surroundings and alert at all times. 

Otters also live in the spring and spring run, and can also be aggressive to swimmers. Otters should be given generous space and avoid dangerous confrontation.

Alexander Springs Technical Details

The spring water in Alexander Springs comes from several spring vents, which are clustered together beneath the surface. Alexander Springs is approximately 25 ft. deep (7.6m)

The spring basin is cone-shaped. The bottom is mostly sand, with some exposed limestone near the spring vent.

The spring pool is quite large. It is 300 ft. when measured from north to south, and 258 ft. from east to west.

There is a vertical ledge near the vent, which runs from north to south.

The water is clear and blue. There is a large spring boil on the pool surface over the vent.

Native aquatic grasses are plentiful. Thin algae patches are present on limestone substrate.

A rock wall forms the south shoreline.

There is a mixed hardwood and palm forest around the spring. Alexander Spring Run flows east approximately 8 river miles (12.9 km) until reaching the St. Johns River.

Alexander Spring is unique because it’s the only 1st magnitude spring found inside a national park or national forest. 

Alexander Springs Camping, swimming, scuba diving, and canoeing are available with full facilities.

Nearby Cities

Orlando

Region

Central Florida

Activities

  • Canoeing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • SCUBA Diving

Camping

  • Cabin Rentals
  • On-site Camping

Contact Information

Camping Reservations: 1-877-444-6777

General Information: 352-669-3522

Alexander Springs is managed by the Ocala National Forest and a private vendor named Adventure Ocala.

Location

Address: 49525 County Rd 445, Altoona, FL 32702

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