Springs in my "not visited" category are starting to appear farther and farther away from Orlando. That means longer trips, but I don't mind much. This time, I decided to travel to Gilchrist Blue Spring, the one park in the middle of Ginnie Springs and Poe Spring that I didn't visit on my previous visit to the High Springs area. The entrance to the park is a long trek down a straight white-sand road (that I may or may not have had fun sliding on). Being privately owned, the park does cost a bit more: $10 a person to be exact. That's pretty steep considering most State Parks run between $3-$4 for a 6-person vehicle. However, the touch of privacy and slightly-higher barrier-to-entry was worth getting a look at four springs that feed the Santa Fe (which are linked below).
The facilities are nice for a private spring: a small concession stand, very friendly maintainers, and dirt roads that allow you to drive up fairly close to all four boils. I use the term boils loosely: Little Blue Spring was barely anything at all.
I dipped my camera into the water, but it was very cloudy, almost a milky blue, and very shallow. Swimming was allowed, but I didn't feel like I had much to gain other than stirring up the very-still bottom. The dock leading to the spring was quite fun though - very shaky and swooping. Read more »
Last week I took a trip to the High Springs area to find another local spring: Blue Spring in Gilchrist county. Inside the commercial/private park were four individual swimming springs, so I'll do a write-up soon; for now, I just wanted to leave you with a video from Naked Spring in the mean time. Until then!
Remind me next time I go to a spring the week after Christmas to check the weather report. With a couple friends in tow, I traveled to the west coast of Florida to visit Homosassa Springs for the first time. I knew there was no swimming at this park, so I figured with the cold weather it would be a perfect park to visit.
I guess it didn't help that it was hovering between the 30s and 40s that day, or that I brought nothing but a thin hoodie to protect me from the cold. Add to that my camera in one hand, always exposed to the cold biting wind (I hate the feeling of neck straps) and I had my work cut out for me that day.
All things considered, it wasn't the best day to go, but it was still very enjoyable. The park attendance was sparse (good thing!) but the underwater observation deck was closed for painting (bad thing!). We rode a short boat ride into the park from the highway parking lot / visitor center. The tour was cold but informative and relaxing, and I would recommended it highly to a potential visitor.
The park is mainly just an outdoor exhibit hall, but a cool one! Lots of animals to see: manatees, bobcats, foxes, bald eagles, reptiles of all types (in a heated building!!), a kids activity center, lots and lots of birds, a panther, even a hippo. It was a good jaunt for a day if a little farther than I wanted to travel, but I would really like to come back during the Summer when the trees would be in full force and the sun would cast much nicer lighting.
Anyway, enjoy the few pictures I salvaged from the horrible Winter lighting.
Short entry for me today, but an important one. Visitors of this site, I must beg and plead of you to place a link to this site on your own! I am getting next to no hits weekly and I'd like to become a decent source for information, photos, and news on the Florida Springs. Without linkbacks, I don't think that will ever happen.
Tell your friends! Ask them to link back to me! Link back yourself! Every little bit helps. And trust me, it will be much appreciated. I doubt this will reach many people, but I can hope right? More visitors = more motivation to make and keep this site awesome! Thank you very much anonymous visitors; after all, it's all for you guys.
Over my week-long mandatory vacation from the University, I decided to take a jaunt to the Blue Springs State Park to check out the seasonal manatees. We arrived a little later than I wanted (around 10:30am) and the line to enter the park was at least 20 cars long. Lesson to the manatee-watcher: come early. All state parks open at 8am, and many times I've gone at 7:30am only to find a small line of cars eagerly awaiting the park to open. We eventually got inside and parked.
I noticed many foreigners at the park, but don't take that as a negative; it was simply surprising to hear so many European languages in a small state park. I suppose many vacation around Christmas.
Anyway, the manatees were great once again, and I was able to get a much better shot of the spring mouth in the later noon sun. Can't wait to go back for a swim come March!
Note: Blue Springs closes their swimming access from November 15th to March 1 to protect the manatees.
After being shut down for renovation the entire Summer season, Salt Springs was finally opened about two weeks ago. I had some back problems that prevented me from attending the spring the first weekend it was open, but I made it up the second with a couple friends in tow.
First impressions: it looks manicured now. They've removed the beach and all wood from around the spring and replaced it with freshly-poured concrete walls and metal barriers. The sandy top next to the beach has been covered in a flowerbed (I don't remember any flowers around the spring before...) and the jumping/entryway that used to be so much fun to climb in and out of is gone, replaced with pool-like concrete steps.
The spring itself is unchanged, but since it was just reopened and has been fairly cold out as of late, the spring was filled to the brim with grass and weeds. The water was chalky and foul-tasting, and the presence of a lot of sediment in the water made it cloudy. I have to admit it felt very wild compared to how it is in the summer when I'm guessing it's dredged; I was afraid at some points to even swim out due to the density of the grass.
All in all, it was an enjoyable trip with friends, but it would have been nice if 80% or so of the grass had been gone.
A week after Juniper, I headed to Alexander with Rob and Fuji for my birthday. The weather was great, and the drive to Alexander via 419 from Orlando is a nice cool alternate route I've discovered. Apparently, that day was a training day for SCUBA divers, so I got a lot of shots of the divers and even got Rob to swim out over the boil! Overall enjoyable day; enjoy pictures!
The trip to Juniper was cold, barren, and awesome! I think I went a bit too early for the full experience; a ton of green mess was still floating around in the spring, clouding and mis-focusing some of my shots, but overall it was an enjoyable outing. Here's the pictures from the excursion:
It's open! Just got off the phone with Juniper directly who confirmed that the swimming area is indeed open. Somehow they managed to keep the park closed for the entire Summer season, but at least I can go experience it fully before it gets insanely cold. Expect pics and video this weekend! Woo!
Just got off the phone with Juniper Springs (352-625-3147). After months of delays, I was told that the tentative re-open date of the swimming area is this Friday, October 16. If it is, I will finally be able to go back and take some amazing shots with the D10. Can't wait! Juniper is quite possibly my favorite spring next to Alexander, so I'm very excited :)