At Ichetucknee Springs State Park, the shrieks of young families launching themselves into the water on bright, neon tubes contrasts heavily with the serene, primeval beauty of the river and its surroundings.
The state park, located in Fort White, Florida, is centered upon the Ichetucknee River which flows from seven springs emitting more than 233 million gallons of water a day. Summertime visitors can view the river ecosystem in comfort, by catching the current on inflatable tubes. Unfortunately this has led some families to act as if the river is no more than an attraction at a local waterpark.
In the hottest part of the day, the river’s most congested time, submerged logs are climbed and conquered, river grass is trampled, and screams and yells echo far past the next bend in the river.
Beat the crowds however, and the park becomes a place of dreams. Towering cypress trees edge the crystal clear water which does nothing to hide the various turtles and mullet swimming through the river grass.
Swimming sans tubes is also available. When entering the North end of the park, visitors are presented with the first swimming area, the head spring. Often crowded, it has been bolstered by concrete making it into more of a pool than a natural entity. However, a mere ten minute hike brings visitors to the spectacular Blue Hole Spring, a circular pool unmarred by humans except for a small wooden entry dock.
The park has the ability to be a place of ultimate relaxation in a pristine area of Florida’s wilderness, but it must be done right. So set an alarm clock, beat the crowds and enjoy a lazy river ride as it was meant to be.
Unfortunately my camera was broken at the time of the trip so the photos above are from flickr’s creative commons. The first is by Kurt Naks and the second is by innovation_school.