Located in Florida, Blue Spring State Park is home to both the largest spring on the St. John's River and, in winter, to West Indian Manatees.
In mid-November through the month of March, hundreds of West Indian Manatees gather in the warm waters at Blue Spring State Park to mate. The 72-degree Fahrenheit water temperature is a favorite place for people, too, who enjoy water activities such as scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming; however, all such activities are forbidden during the mating season of the manatees. A boardwalk trail, easily accessible by visitors of all abilities, guides visitors along Blue Spring. When the manatee are there, they are easy to spot beneath the crystal-clear water. Occasionally they come to the surface for a breath of air before plunging beneath the surface again. Other schools of fish can be spotted in the water, and a variety of birds including the Florida scrub jay can be sighted in the Spanish moss-laced trees. The Pine Island trail, which is 3.6 miles one way, is more rugged than the boardwalk trail, but seeing its desert-like scrub is worth the challenge.
The park covers 2,600 acres and is open daily from 8 am to sundown. Cabins and camping are also available for visitors. Admission costs vary from $4 to $6, depending on how many are in your party. If you plan to visit during manatee season, arrive early in the morning. The park keeps track of how many manatees are in its property boundaries. Hundreds are usually there in the morning, and the numbers decrease as the day goes by. (You can see how many manatees are in the park by checking on their website.)
Blue Spring State Park will not allow visitors to enter once the park reaches full capacity. This can be a confusing situation for first-time visitors. If you arrive and the park has already reached capacity, you will be asked to move your car to an appropriate waiting point. At times, the long line of cars can frighten off visitors, but the line does tend to move quickly. As people exit the park, new arrivals are admitted.