Blue Spring State Park
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|Blue Spring State Park|
|Location||Volusia County, Florida, United States|
|Nearest city||Orange City, Florida|
|Governing body||Florida Department of Environmental Protection|
Blue Spring State Park is a state park located west of Orange City, Florida in the United States. The park is a popular tourist destination; available activities include canoeing, SCUBA diving, kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, wildlife watching, and swimming. The spring is the largest on the St. Johns River and with a relatively warm temperature of 73 °F (23 °C), the spring attracts many Florida manatees during the winter months. 102 million US gallons (390,000 m3) of water flow out of Blue Spring into the St. Johns River every day.
The spring and surrounding land was acquired by the Weismore family in the mid-19th century and a large plantation-style home built upon a shell mound on the property. The area seemed to be excellent for cultivation of citrus fruit, and a small railway was built linking Orange City to the dock at Blue Spring. Ultimately, the Florida East Coast Railway was constructed not far from the present-day park. A killing freeze occurred in the 1890s, wiping out area citrus groves and driving the industry south. The Thursbys switched to the tourist trade, taking advantage of the beautiful spring and excellent fishing and hunting opportunities along the St. Johns River.
The park was acquired by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in 1972 to kick-start its manatee protection program.
Blue Spring State Park has a lot to offer its visitors including, but not limited to, fifty-one campsites with water and electricity hookups, and six cabins which are available for those who wish to stay at the park. The crystal clear spring runs a few miles long where swimming and tubing are very popular on hot summer days but are not allowed during manatee season. Qualified Scuba divers can descend into the spring cave in season as well. Picnicking is a popular pastime, with multiple pavilions available for groups and scattered picnic tables around the entire park. The park also features volleyball courts and a playground, as well as, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The old Thursby plantation house is being maintained and has historical displays that visitors can explore. Various wildlife besides manatees can be seen as well including alligators, bears, racoons, and various species of birds. Hontoon Island State Park is a short paddle down the St. Johns River. Hours of operation, fees, and rental information can be found here: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Blue-Spring
Wood stork near Blue Spring.
Red-shouldered hawk, Florida sub-species.
Wood stork on the St. Johns near Blue Spring.
An alligator on the St. Johns River
Turkey vulture near the lagoon
Florida scrub jay in the campground
Wood storks on the Smith Canal near Blue Spring
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