Ichetucknee Springs State Park
What’s it like?
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is an oasis. It has something for everyone:
- World-class tubing
- Incredible, pristine river
- Fascinating snorkeling
- Adventurous scuba diving
- Unspoiled nature
- Hiking trails
Ichetucknee River Springs
There are 9 major named springs in the state park, and countless more smaller vents:
- Ichetucknee Head Spring
- Blue Hole
- Cedar Head Spring
- Roaring Spring
- Singing Spring
- Devil’s Eye Spring
- Grassy Hole Spring
- Mill Pond Spring
- Coffee Spring
How long is Ichetucknee Springs?
The Ichetucknee river flows gently for 5.5 miles under a thick canopy of trees, before meeting the larger Santa Fe River.
The Santa Fe River empties into the Suwanee River, and then eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
The main attraction of Ichetucknee Springs is the gorgeous water and natural environment. This 2008 New York Times article beautifully describes the experience:
It’s a warm late-winter afternoon in northern Florida, and three young women are gingerly descending a half-dozen wooden stairs to a mouthwash-blue pool of translucent water ringed with cypress trees.”
The water is chilly and so clear it’s almost invisible. It bubbles up from deep underground and then comes together to form the Ichetucknee River.
Because it spends so much time under ground where the temperature is constant, the water temperature of Ichetucknee Springs stays a constant 72 degrees year round. It isn’t affected by outside air temperature.
Even though it feels great on a hot day, it might be chilly if you’re sensitive to the cold. Children and people who get cold easily might want to consider using a wetsuit.
Tubing Ichetucknee Springs: a natural lazy river
The water’s generally steady and slow moving.
The flow depends on current water level and flow conditions, but it’s usually 1-3 mph. For planning purposes, a speed of 1 mph is a good guess.
The river is usually approx. 20 feet wide and 4-5 feet deep. It’s narrower and shallower in the northern section toward the head spring. This concentrates tubers and makes environmental damage worse, which is why tube numbers are limited.
Ichetucknee River doesn’t contain any rapids or white water. But, it’s a natural river environment, and it can flood at times. It’s always best to call and check the river conditions when planning a trip.
Tubing Ichetucknee Springs? Bring Shoes!
It’s a good idea to bring some sort of water shoes when floating Ichetucknee Springs.
- The parking lot can be blistering hot and sharp
- Much of the trail system is unpaved and may consist of dirt, sand and small gravel
- Wooden docks and walkways may have loose nails and painful wood splinters
- Stubbed toes and foot injuries can ruin a day on the river
- Docks and wet surfaces can be slippery- shoes with good traction can be useful
Old tennis shoes might be a good idea, but be careful because extra weight on your feet may make it hard to swim.
Don’t touch the bottom!
If you wear shoes please don’t walk on the river banks or river bottom! It erodes and kills the fragile river grasses. Grasses are vital because they’re the base of a complex food pyramid.
Take only photos, leave only footprints
Every summer many hundreds of thousands of people visit Ichetucknee Springs. While it’s great that so many people love the springs, so many visitors can kill natural beauty. Please make sure that you don’t lose or leave trash or items in the river!
To avoid losing stuff, secure your gear:
- Rope, string or parachute cord: tie shoes and sandals to your tube.
- You might find some twine used for securing tubes to cars
- A diving or mesh bag is great for keeping stuff together
- Dry bags are always useful to have in Florida! These area also great for keeping stuff safe from sudden rain storms
Don’t let any string or rope wind up in the river!