Blue Springs State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida. It is a favorite spot for nature lovers and water activities.
Blue Springs State Park offers a wide variety of things to do, including:
- Manatee viewing
- Wildlife viewing
- Scuba diving
- Kayaking and canoeing
There are full-service facilities in Blue Springs State Park, including a beautiful campground, cabin rentals, guided tours and a snack bar.
Blue Springs State Park Information
Blue Springs State Park is open 365 days a year. The park is open from 8am until sunset.
The fee to enter Blue Springs State Park is $6 per vehicle. There are different prices for bicycles, pedestrians, single-passenger cars and Florida state park pass holders.
Blue Springs State Park is visited year-round, but becomes most crowded during the summer months, when people come to tube down the spring run.
During summer weekends and holidays Blue Springs State Park may reach maximum capacity, and visitors may be turned away at the gate.
Especially during busy times, visitors should try to arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Note: Visitors should also be sure they are planning a visit to the right Blue Springs. There are several springs in Florida with the same, or similar names, so many visitors confuse them with each other.
Blue Springs State Park is located at 2100 West French Avenue, Orange City, Florida, 32763.
Blue Springs State Park is accessed via W. French Avenue, is a small road which runs through a suburban residential neighborhood.
The nearest town is nearby Orange City, located just a few miles to the east. There are restaurant options located off of highway 17, which runs through Orange City.
To access Blue Spring visitors walk down a wooden boardwalk, which leads through native Florida forest.
The path takes about 10 minutes to walk. The pathway is very well shaded in most places.
The water of Blue Spring is beautiful. There is a mix of deep blues, turquoise and greens, which change based on the light conditions, bottom surface and water depth.
Swimming is allowed seasonally, depending on whether manatees are present or not. Swimming, diving and tubing are not allowed when manatees are present in the spring.
When swimming is allowed, water entry into the Head Spring is accessed via a floating dock.
The dock and other platforms were built to prevent erosion, and to help preserve the spring banks and spring bottom.
The head spring of Volusia Blue Spring is mostly round. The spring pool measures approximately 135 ft from north to south and 105 ft from east to west.
The banks around the head spring are steep and sandy. They rise to almost 20 feet above the water level. Raised boardwalks protect fragile shorelines from erosion.
The water is approximately 20 feet deep over the Blue Springs vent, with a strong spring boil in the center.
The bottom is generally limestone and sand. Water flows from the spring vent, which is a long crack in the limestone.
The vent is shaped like a long, stretched crack, and is covered by fallen logs, which are criss-crossed over the vent.
There is an underground cave system beneath the spring, which has been explored and mapped.
The vent opens up quite a bit after entering, although it is still a confined and constricted space.
In total, Blue Springs is approximately 120 feet deep.
There is a spring run which flows from the south end of the spring. It runs for .4 mile into the St. Johns River.
The area around the spring and spring run is filled with local Florida forest, including hardwood and palm trees.
The water in Blue Springs is 72-degrees year-round.
The water temperature is controlled by the earth’s temperature deep underground, where it is stable and is not influenced by hot or cold air temperatures.
The water feels very chilly in hot weather, and feels surprisingly warm in cold weather, when the air temperature is cooler than the water.
The consistent water temperature is what attracts manatees to Blue Springs, as they seek protection from cold water in the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean.
Blue Springs is a vital habitat for hundreds of manatees. They visit the spring run during cold weather because they need warm water for survival.
The manatee population is healthy today, but it hasn’t always been.
The number of manatees in Blue Spring State Park has been dangerously low in the past. At one point the population was less than 50.
“In 1970, two years before Blue Spring State Park was established, researchers tracked 14 manatees in the spring run. By 2005, after years of park improvements and manatee protection efforts, wintering manatee numbers exceeded 200, and by 2018 that number skyrocketed to a record 485.” -Florida State Parks
With protection, conservation and better environmental practices, the manatee population has improved. Today the population has grown to more than 500 manatees.
Blue Springs State Park is a great place for rehabilitated manatees to be re-released into the wild because the local conditions make it easy to monitor their health and progress.
Activities in Blue Springs State Park
There are many things to do in Blue Springs State Park!
One of the simplest things to do is to enjoy the beautiful nature, and view manatees and wildlife from the raised boardwalks.
It is also fun to enjoy the peaceful nature, especially on quiet, uncrowded days. There is a large grassy lawn that’s perfect for picnicking, playing games or relaxing. Some areas of the lawn are shaded by beautiful large, old trees.
Canoeing, Kayaking and SUP paddleboarding
Kayaking and paddling in Blue Springs State Park is one of the best ways to experience the water.
Visitors can bring their own kayaks, canoes or paddleboards to launch inside the park. Kayak rentals are available on-site, as well as canoes.
Kayaks and canoes are rented per hour, or in blocks of four or six hours. Rentals begin at 8:30am. Guided 2.5 hour kayak tours are also available, but require a reservation.
Check Blue Springs Adventures for the latest details.
There are lockers available for rent. Large and small locker sizes are available for keys, wallets, or larger bags.
Blue Springs State Park is one of the best places to see manatees in Florida. Manatees are generally found in the spring run and spring pool during cold weather.
The Blue Spring head spring is one of Florida’s best places to see manatees because the water is so clear.
There can be many hundreds of manatees present at certain times, and they can be quite active in the spring. The raised boardwalk overlook offers a great view of the manatees down below.
Manatees are generally present from mid November until March, but their behavior changes depending on the weather and water temperatures.
During warm weather manatees return to the St. Johns River and other waterways to graze on seagrasses.
Note: Swimming with manatees is not allowed inside Blue Springs State Park. Swimming is not allowed during the winter, when manatees seek refuge in the spring. Swimming may also be prohibited if manatees are present during the summer, as well.
Alligators in Blue Springs State Park
Alligators are always present in Blue Springs State Park, and in the adjoining St. Johns River.
At least one person has been killed by a 12′ alligator while swimming inside Blue Springs State Park. Alligators of various sizes can often be seen basking in the sun on the shores of Blue Springs Run, and in the river banks along the St. Johns River.
Numerous signs throughout Blue Springs State Park warn of alligators. Visitors should remain vigilant and exercise extreme caution at all times.
There is a beautiful, easy path which traces along the spring run. Manatees can often be seen swimming down the spring run, when they are present in cooler months.
There is also a 3.6 mile trail (one-way) inside Blue Springs State Park, the “Pine Island Trail”. The trail connects the campground with the Blue Springs headspring area.
Swimming and Tubing
Tubing in the Blue Springs run is one of the best things to do in Blue Springs State Park, and by far the most popular summer activity.
The tubing route floats for almost a mile. It begins just below the Blue Springs headspring area, and floats towards the St. Johns River.
There is a ramp to enter the water just below the head spring, and a dock downstream to exit the water.
Tubers are allowed to swim upstream into the headspring area if they want, or they can start tubing from the entrance dock.
Tubing is only allowed in the summer and when manatees are not present in the spring or spring run. Tubing may be restricted when manatees are present.
Visitors can bring their own tubes, or rent them on-site from the private concessionaire. Tube rentals are priced by the hour.
At the time of this writing the cost of tube rentals in Blue Springs State Park is $6.57 for the first hour, and then $3.76 per hour for additional time.
The prices are subject to change, so be sure to check the official website for current pricing and other details.
Details can be found at Blue Springs Adventures
Note: There are outdoor showers for rinsing off after swimming or tubing. The outdoor showers are located near the gift shop and the trail to Blue Springs.
Note: Be sure to check the official website for the latest information and any updates.
Boat tours are available inside Blue Springs State Park. Large pontoon boats give narrated tours in the St. Johns River. The tours last for two-hours.
At the time of this writing there are two tours offered daily. The morning tour begins at 10am and an afternoon tour begins at 1pm.
The boats are wheelchair accessible and the crew can help with any mobility challenges.
Bird watching is excellent inside Blue Springs State Park!
Scrub-jays are commonly seen, which is a favorite Florida bird for many visitors. Many other Florida bird species, and other wildlife, can also be seen in the park.
When is Blue Springs Open?
All water activities are closed during the winter from November 15 until March 31. The water is closed to protect manatees who use the spring for warmth.
Manatees visit Blue Springs State Park during the winter months, generally from November to March.
When the manatees are present water activities will be closed, to ensure that the manatees are not disturbed.
There is a beautiful house on site, the Thusby House.
The Thursby House was built in 1872. Sadly it is built upon the remains of a destroyed ancient Native American shell mound, which was an artifact from when this area was inhabited by the Timucua people.
The Thursby House was an important gathering place for travelers who passed through the region via the St. Johns River. The river was a primary mode of transport before Florida’s interior was tamed and settled.
The Thursby house is filled with antiques from Florida’s pioneer days, along with exhibits and informative signs. Tours of the house are sometimes available.
Camping at Blue Springs State Park
The campground in Blue Springs State Park is named the “Sand Pine Scrub Campground”.
There are 51 campsites available for tent or RV camping. There are fire rings, water and electric hookups in each site. There are no sewer hookups in campsites, but there is a sewer dump station inside the campground.
There are two bath houses on separate sides of the campground loop. When we visited the campground and bath houses appeared to be very clean and well taken care of. We noticed that at least one of the bath houses had pay-per-use laundry facilities.
Many campers note that sites 18 and 19 are closest to the spring area.
A walking path leads from the campground to the spring area.
There are 6 on-site cabins in Blue Springs State Park, available for rent through the State Park website. Each cabin has two bedrooms and a screened-in porch.
Cabins accommodate up to six people. One bedroom is furnished with a double bed, and the second bedroom is furnished with two single beds. A sleeper sofa in the living room converts to a double bed. Each cabin is equipped with a gas fireplace (for use November through March), central heating and cooling, bathroom, fully equipped kitchen with stove and refrigerator, screened porch, outdoor grill and picnic table.
Linens, pillows, blankets and towels plus cooking and eating utensils are provided. Linens are not changed daily. Two vehicles per cabin are permitted. For the guests’ relaxation, televisions and phones are not provided.Blue Springs State Park Website
Cabin rentals and campground sites in Blue Springs State Park are popular, and tend to be booked well in advance.
Last-minute cancellations are often available though, so it is worth checking the reservation site periodically.
Reservations can be made via the online booking system.
- Daytona Beach
- New Smyrna Beach
- Manatee Viewing
- SCUBA Diving
- Cabin Rentals
- On-site Camping
Blue Springs State Park can be reached at 386-775-3663
Additional information is available from Blue Springs Adventures, the on-site park concessionaire.
Check the Blue Springs State Park website or call the park for more information.