Best Springs in Northwest Florida
Florida has more springs than any other state in the country. Not only are there more springs, but also some of the largest producing springs in the world. Not surprisingly, many of the best springs in Florida are in the northwest part of Florida.
You can find springs in northwest Florida that produce large navigable rivers and some that are no more than a muddy hole in a farmer’s field. All are part of Florida’s rich culture and history.
How Many Springs are in Florida?
Just a few years ago the answer to this question was about 700 known springs. Today, as more springs are discovered and recorded, the common thought is there are over 1000 springs in Florida.
Note the large number of springs in northwest Florida on the Florida Springs Map.
What are the largest springs in Florida?
The largest springs in Florida are graded by magnitude: the gallons of water produced per day. The largest spring in Florida is Kings Bay at Crystal River in Citrus County with over 630 million gallons of water per day.
Other large springs include Rainbow Springs in Marion County (409 million), Alapaha Rise in Hamilton County (383 Million), Silver Springs in Marion County (359 million), St. Marks Rise in Leon County (292 million), Wakulla Springs in Wakulla County (252 million).
It should be noted that many of the largest springs above are actually a collection of springs in the same general aquifer. Most form rivers, with the same name.
Many Springs in Northwest Florida
The springs in northwest Florida are natural wonders that offer visitors a chance to enjoy the clear, cool, and refreshing water that emerges from underground.
Many of these springs are part of the karst topography, a landscape formed by the dissolution of limestone and other sedimentary rocks by groundwater. This process creates features such as caves, sinkholes, tunnels and shafts, some of which can be explored by divers.
Some of the springs in northwest Florida are located on the Dougherty Karst Plain, which covers parts of Walton, Holmes, Washington and Bay counties.
Springs in Florida Are Unique
In general, Florida springs are unique natural features that hold several special properties.
The list includes:
- Crystal-clear water: Florida springs are known for their exceptionally clear water.
- Constant temperature: Springs in Florida maintain a relatively constant temperature of 68-72 degrees throughout the year.
- Plant life and wildlife: Springs serve as important ecosystems, supporting a wide range of plant and animal life. They are home to various aquatic species, including fish, turtles, manatees, and alligators in some areas.
- Recreational opportunities: Florida springs provide a range of activities. Swimming, kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, and diving are popular. Visitors can explore the underwater world and encounter aquatic life. Some springs are also suitable for boating, canoeing, paddle boarding and tubing. Some springs offer scenic adventures along spring-fed rivers and creeks.
- Conservation and Preservation: Due to their ecological significance, many Florida springs are protected and managed as state parks, recreation areas, or natural landmarks.
- Sinkholes and cave systems: Springs are often connected to extensive underground cave systems and sinkholes, forming intricate networks beneath the surface.
- Cultural and historical significance: Springs were used by Native American tribes for centuries and later became gathering places, recreational spots, and sources of inspiration for artists and writers.
It’s worth noting that each spring has its own unique characteristics and amenities. Some are state parks and others are private operations. It’s advisable to research specific springs before visiting. Learn about any restrictions, facilities, or other special features they may offer.
Most Notable and Popular Springs in Northwest Florida
Ichetucknee Springs – Known for its crystal-clear water and tubing opportunities, it is located near Fort White. Of all the springs in Florida, this one is popular with the tubing and kayaking crowd. Northeast of Gainesville.
Ginnie Springs* – A popular recreational area with several springs for swimming, diving, and camping, situated near High Springs.
Morrison Springs – Located near Ponce de Leon, this is a state park that showcases a magnitude 1 spring with 3 vents that release water from depths of up to 300 feet. The spring has a temperature of 68°F and a turquoise color. The spring forms a pool that is about 250 feet in diameter and 45 feet deep. The spring flows into the Choctawhatchee River which empties into the bay near Destin, Florida. The spring is popular for diving, swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding. The park also has a boardwalk, a boat ramp, picnic tables and restrooms. North of Panama City Beach.
DeFuniak Springs* – DeFuniak Springs is actually a town. We include it because the springs there form one of the rare perfectly round lakes in the world. This quaint town is built around it. Florida Travel Blog covered DeFuniak Springs in our trip along The Old Spanish Trail.
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park – This park features two springs, Ponce de Leon Spring and Sandy Creek Spring. They form large pools for swimming and snorkeling. The springs have a constant temperature of 68°F. The park also has hiking trails, picnic areas and restrooms.
Cypress Springs Park* – Situated near Vernon, Florida it features a spring-fed swimming area and a campground that is privately owned.
Manatee Springs – Located near Chiefland, this is one of our favorite springs in northwest Florida. Manatee Springs offers swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and a chance to spot manatees during the winter months. There is also a quarter-mile-long boardwalk taking you to the Suwannee River.
Madison Blue Springs – Situated near Lee, it is known for its vibrant blue water and underwater cave system. Northwest of Live Oak.
Troy Springs – Found near Branford, it features a large spring pool and is popular for swimming, diving, and picnicking. This is one of the deeper springs in northwest Florida.
Suwannee Springs – Located near Live Oak, this county park offers a natural spring pool and is a popular spot for swimming and picnicking along one of our favorite rivers in northwest Florida, The Suwannee River.
Gilchrist Blue Springs – A newly opened spring state park near High Springs, known for its stunning blue water and nature trails. Near Ginnie Springs and the town of High Springs.
Lafayette Blue Springs State Park – Situated near the small town of Mayo, the park offers a refreshing spring for swimming and a campground.
Otter Springs* – A privately owned park near Trenton, north of Fanning Springs, featuring a spring-fed swimming area, cabins, and RV camping.
Fanning Springs – Near Chiefland, this relatively small park is located in the town with the same name. It does have a neat boardwalk leading to the Suwannee River and a boat ramp across the river.
Jackson Blue aka Blue Spring – This is actually a lake called Merrit’s Mill Pond fed by a spring. This county-monitored lake is unique because of its cave-diving opportunities.
Cypress Creek* – Situated near Vernon, it is a beautiful spring-fed creek that offers canoeing and wildlife viewing, but they say the spring in Northwest Florida is difficult to find.
Devil’s Den* – This privately owned spring and the underground cave is a private park. It has a unique history of a sinkhole that opened up on a farm that revealed a cave and river. Devil’s Den, covered here by Florida Travel Blog, is very popular. Near Williston.
- *Denotes privately owned springs, not state or government owned.
State Parks with Springs in Northwest Florida
Eleven of the eighteen springs in northwest Florida are Florida State Parks. We believe state-operated parks in Florida are the best bargains for entertainment in the world.
Most state parks have entry fees from $5 to $8 per single-axle vehicle. That means a family of six could enjoy swimming, picnicking, hiking and more for around $1 per person.
We are amazed at the diversity of people who take advantage of these amenities. We see seniors out for an afternoon, school buses with children, couples who take day trips in Florida and teenagers who find their fun in crystal clear waters for a day.
We are also amazed at the number of people who don’t take advantage of the Florida State Park system. The amazing beauty, wildlife, picturesque landscapes, and sights of nature that can’t be duplicated are treasures of a lifetime.
For more about springs in northwest Florida and Florida State Parks around the state, visit Florida Travel Blog as we add new adventures monthly.