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Blue Springs State Park, Orange City, FL
Florida Outdoor Adventures

About The Park

Blue Spring State Park is largely known for it's role in protecting the Manatees which inhabit the Spring run from Nov. through Mar. It is located 4 miles south of Deland and 2 miles west of Orange City on French Ave., off of US 17-92.

Blue Spring is a magnificent first-magnitude spring, surrounded by steep slopes of the shady Hardwood Hammock of oaks, palms, hickories, magnolias and sweetgum trees. There is an excellent designated swimming area and dock, located near the camp store which sells snacks and supplies and also rents canoes and rowboats. There is a observation platform just past the swimming area for viewing the mantees which gather there each winter from the cooler waters of the St. John's River for refuge in the 72 degree water of Blue Spring.

The boat launch is located at the end of the Spring run at the convergence of the St. John's River. Motors are not allowed in the run to protect the manatees and, when Manatees are present in the run, it is roped off to all boats. We were lucky enough to be in our canoe in the Run when the first Manatee of the season and her calf appeared in the Park. We stopped to view this excellent scene under the close and watchful eyes of the Rangers who had not yet roped off the Spring Run. We were very careful to keep our distance and not disturb the Mother and Calf.

There is an excellent 4-mile hiking trail that winds through both the shady hammock and the contrasting open flatwoods of scrub-pine.

There are 51 campsites (24 with electricity & water), 6 furnished cabins for rental and numerous areas for picnicking near the spring. The campsites are located in the mostly open sandy scrub pine area of the park, a short walk or bike ride from the Spring head. There is also an a primitive camp available (no water, no facilities) for registered backpackers.

Canoeing the Spring run is rewarding, the views are excellent, however, it is very short. Canoeing the St. John's river affords some rustic views of the natural Florida swamp woods. We found that most of the motorboats on the St. John's River exceeded the allowed speeds in the no-wake zones and several times nearly swamped our canoe. This was our only disappointment on this trip - to see such disregard for the manatees and the local River speed laws.

The historic Blue Spring was discovered by John Bartram, a priminent British botanist on Jan. 4, 1766, just after England had acquired Florida from Spain. By the mid 1800's, most of the Indians had been killed or driven south and pioneer settlers took their place. In 1872, the Thursby family built a large frame house atop the Indian's shell mound. This house still stands today, now used as the superintendent's residence.

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