Blue Springs State Park – Orange City, Florida

Experience the natural beauty of Florida by exploring the hidden gem of Blue Springs State Park. This undeveloped hot springs destination offers stunning crystal clear waters and a peaceful atmosphere that allows you to reconnect with nature.

One of the unique features of Blue Springs State Park is the manatee refuge. During manatee season, you can swim with these gentle sea creatures and witness their majestic grace up close. Additionally, the park boasts the largest spring on the St. Johns River, with water temperatures that remain a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.

For those who enjoy water activities, kayaking down the St. Johns River or canoeing through the spring vent are popular options. You can also hike the scenic Pine Island Trail or explore the head spring, which pumps out an impressive 102 million gallons of water per day.

Visitors can set up camp at the Blue Springs State Park campground, which offers park improvements such as hot showers, electric hookups, and drinking water. The campground also features a gas fireplace and sleeper sofa, making it a comfortable and relaxing retreat after a day of outdoor activities.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a picnic with friends and family or embark on a solo adventure, Blue Springs State Park has something for everyone. With its natural springs and abundant wildlife, this park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

In short, Blue Springs State Park is a breathtakingly beautiful natural oasis that offers a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its crystal clear waters, manatee refuge, hiking trails, and water activities, this park is a hidden gem that should not be missed. Read on to find more in detail.


Blue Springs State Park
Blue Spring State Park

Nestled along the St. Johns River in Florida lies the breathtaking Blue Springs State Park, spanning over 2,600 acres of pure natural beauty. This sanctuary is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including manatees, alligators, and a variety of bird species. But the park’s main attraction is its 72-degree invigorating spring water, which pumps out over 100 million gallons of water each day. The crystal-clear of this circular pool is renowned for its striking beauty, making it a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature.

Blue Springs State Park has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. The park was originally known as “Blue Springs Landing” and was a popular spot for steamboats to stop and unload goods. In the late 1800s, the area was purchased by Louis Thursby and the Thursby family operated a successful commercial enterprise at the site, including a sawmill, grist mill, and orange grove.

In the early 1900s, the park became a popular tourist destination for people seeking the therapeutic benefits of the springs’ clear, cold water. The Thursby family built a hotel and cabins for visitors, and the park became known as “Thursby’s Blue Springs.”

During World War II, the park was used as a training ground for soldiers and was closed to the public. After the war, the park was sold to the state of Florida and eventually became a state park in 1970.

Today, visitors to Blue Springs State Park can explore the park’s history through exhibits and artifacts displayed at the Thursby House, which was built in the 1870s by Louis Thursby. The house has been restored to its original condition and offers a glimpse into the past of this beautiful and historic park.

Natural Springs

Swimming with manatee refuge in Blue Springs State Park
Swimming with manatee refuge in Blue Springs State Park

The natural beauty of Blue Springs State Park is truly awe-inspiring. The crystal-clear waters of the spring run are a vibrant shade of blue, and the lush greenery that surrounds them provides a stunning backdrop. Visitors can take in the scenery while strolling along the boardwalk or hiking through the park’s many trails.

Wildlife enthusiasts will find themselves in paradise as the park is home to a diverse array of animals, including the Orlando Manatee, baby manatees, turtles, and a variety of bird species. The park boasts one of the largest populations of West Indian manatees in Florida, making it a popular spot for wildlife lovers.

In addition to the natural beauty of the spring run, the park is also home to a historic Thursby House, which was built in the 1870s and has been beautifully restored. Visitors can take a guided tour of the house to learn about its history and the people who lived there.

Overall, the natural beauty of Blue Springs State Park is truly breathtaking and is not to be missed for anyone visiting the Orange City area.

Top Activities to Enjoy

Kayaking in Blue Springs State Park
Kayaking in Blue Springs State Park

Blue Springs State Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a plethora of recreational activities to keep visitors engaged. One of the most popular activities is diving with manatees. These gentle giants can be seen in the clear, freshwater springs during the winter months when they seek refuge from the colder waters of the St. Johns River. To ensure the safety of the manatees, visitors are required to follow certain guidelines and regulations while diving.

For those who prefer to stay on land, the 4.5-mile Pine Island Trail is a must-see. This trail winds through the park’s natural Florida landscape and offers scenic views of the St. Johns River. It is multi-use trail, so visitors can hike, bike, or even horseback ride on it. There are also several shorter walking trails throughout the park for those who want a more leisurely stroll.

If you want to get out on the water, you can book a pontoon boat ride with a guide. The boat tour reservations fill up fast, so it’s best to book in advance. During the tour, your guide will point out wildlife, including alligators, turtles, and birds. You can also rent kayaks and explore the park’s waterways at your own pace.

Take in the natural beauty of the park and create unforgettable memories with your loved ones.

Local Attractions

Boat tour on St. Johns River
Boat tour on St. Johns River

When exploring Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, Florida, there are a plethora of local attractions to discover. One of the top destinations is the St. Johns River, which provides visitors with the chance to embark on scenic boat tours or cast a line for a fishing trip. The river is teeming with a diverse range of wildlife, and an array of bird species, making it an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts.

Another beloved attraction is the DeBary Hall Historic Site, situated nearby, which offers a glimpse into Florida’s rich history. The site showcases a 19th-century mansion that was once home to a notable family, along with several outbuildings and gardens that have been restored to their former grandeur. Visitors can opt for guided tours of the site or venture out on their own.

For outdoor enthusiasts, a must-visit destination is the nearby Gemini Springs Park. The park boasts several hiking and biking trails, as well as picnic areas and a children’s playground. There are also several natural springs, including Blue Springs Creek and Blue Springs Lake, where visitors can cool off with a refreshing swim, providing a welcome respite from the Florida heat.

No trip to Orange City would be complete without a day trip to the nearby Blue Springs Official or Daytona Beach. Daytona Beach is home to wide sandy beaches, a lively boardwalk, and a plethora of restaurants and shops, making it the perfect place to soak up the sun and enjoy all that Florida has to offer. And if you’re up for an adventure, take a drive down Blue Springs Road to explore more of the natural beauty of Blue Springs City.

Where to Stay

Blue Springs Lodge offers nice stays
Blue Springs Lodge offers nice stays

If you’re looking for an affordable option, there’s the Blue Springs Lodge. It’s located just a few miles from the park and offers basic amenities like air conditioning, cable TV, and Wi-Fi.

For something a bit more luxurious, there’s the Blue Springs Country Club & Resort. This is a great choice for those who want access to tennis courts, swimming pools and golf courses.

Finally, if you prefer camping outdoors in nature, then the campground at the park is perfect for you. With sites right on the banks of the beautiful Blue River, you can enjoy stunning views while still being close to all of the activities that make Blue Springs such an amazing destination.

Camping At Blue Springs

Camping at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park campground
Camping at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park campground

Camping at Blue Springs State Park is a unique and fun experience. With the beautiful steep banks of the Blue River, the park offers an idyllic setting for a nature getaway. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful weekend away or an outdoor adventure with friends and family, Blue Springs is the perfect spot to pitch your tent.

The campground has over 100 sites, each equipped with water and electric hookups and some with sewer connections as well. During manatee season (November-March) you can even take part in guided tours of the Manatee Refuge if you’re lucky!

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Blue Springs State Park is during the winter months, from mid-November to early March. This is the peak season for the park’s famous manatees, as they seek refuge in the warm waters of the spring during the colder months.

Aside from the manatees, the winter months also offer milder temperatures, making it more comfortable for visitors to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and camping. The park’s trails are also less crowded during this time, providing a more peaceful and serene experience.

Admission Prices

Visiting Blue Springs State Park is an affordable way to get out and explore the great outdoors. Admission prices are incredibly reasonable and are as follows: $5 per vehicle for one day, $20 per vehicle for seven days, or $40 per vehicle for an entire year. Campground fees vary depending on the size of your camping party and the type of site you choose. Most campsites include electric hookups, bathrooms, and showers. For those looking to stay a bit longer, there are annual passes available. There are also discounts available for seniors, military personnel, and veterans. So come on down to Blue Springs State Park today – you won’t regret it!

Why You Should Visit Blue Springs State Park

Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park campground
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park – Photo: Visit Natural North Florida

Admission prices for Blue Springs State Park are reasonable and affordable. The park charges a fee per vehicle, which includes all passengers. The fee is $6 for a single occupant vehicle and $4 per person for a vehicle with two or more people. Pedestrians and bicyclists can enter the park for $2 per person.

In addition to the regular admission fees, the park also offers rental options for kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. The rental prices vary depending on the type of equipment and the length of time rented. Kayaks and canoes can be rented for $20 per hour or $30 for two hours, or for a full day at $60. Paddleboards can be rented for $25 per hour or $40 for two hours, or for a full day at $75.

It’s important to note that Blue Springs State Park has limited parking, so it’s recommended to arrive early in the morning to secure a spot.

Making Reservations

The park is a popular destination and campsites and cabins can fill up quickly, especially during peak season, so it’s important to make reservations in advance.

You can easily make reservations online through the Florida State Parks website, or by calling the park directly. When making your reservation, be sure to specify the dates of your stay, the type of accommodation you prefer, and any special requests or accommodations you may need.

It’s also important to note that there are restrictions on the number of people and vehicles allowed at each site or cabin, so make sure to accurately report the size of your party when making your reservation. Payment is typically required at the time of reservation, so be prepared to provide a credit card or other form of payment.

By making your reservations in advance, you can ensure that you have a spot at Blue Springs State Park.

Safety Guidelines and Regulations

It’s important to follow the safety guidelines and regulations put in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors.

First and foremost, swimming or diving is only allowed in designated areas and during specific times. These areas will be clearly marked and supervised by lifeguards. It’s important to stay within the designated swimming areas and not venture into other parts of the spring, as strong currents and underwater hazards can pose a danger.

Additionally, visitors are not allowed to feed or approach any wildlife in the park, including manatees, alligators, and birds. These animals are protected and should be observed from a safe distance. Visitors should also avoid littering or leaving any items behind, as this can harm the environment and wildlife.

Finally, visitors should be aware of the park’s opening and closing times, and should not stay in the park after hours. This ensures the safety of visitors and the protection of the park’s natural resources.

By following these safety guidelines and regulations, visitors can have a safe and enjoyable experience at Blue Springs State Park.

Bottom Line

Blue Springs State Park is a true gem in the heart of Orange City, Florida. From its clean water to the abundant wildlife and lush vegetation, this park offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

With its convenient location, affordable admission fees, and well-maintained facilities, it’s no wonder why this park is a popular destination year-round. So if you’re planning a trip to Florida, be sure to add Blue Springs State Park to your itinerary. You won’t be disappointed.


Local Information

Address: 1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka, Florida 32712
GPS: 28.951439,-81.333691
Phone: 407-553-4383
Season: Year-round




Anne loves to explore the world and share her experiences through her blog. She loves to travel to places that are off the beaten path and find unique experiences to share with her readers. She also loves to share tips on how to make the most of a trip, from budgeting to activities. She hopes that her blog will inspire others to explore the world and enjoy the beauty of nature.