The Devil’s Den and Williston, Florida

Devil’s Den Williston Florida – Diving the Underground River

 We had heard about Devil’s Den, Williston, Florida from other family members. The description was a hole in the ground to caves where people dive. While somewhat true, the description doesn’t do this Florida attraction justice.
 
Upon arrival at Devil’s Den you must go through the welcome center that collects a nominal entry fee if you are not diving – we weren’t! Snorkeling and diving shallow wrecks in the Gulf is one thing, but diving into a cave 100 feet underground is not for us. Divers got through another line. They can rent scuba gear or bring their own. Fees vary but are reasonable.
 
As you walk onto the grounds of Devil’s Den, you see two things. On the left is an acre-sized lake, and on your right is a sign and a dark entryway going down into the ground. We chose the path to the lake since the small walkway was for divers only. 
Devil's Den Entry
This narrow doorway leads to a stairway that takes divers down to a pre-dive platform.
Diver's stairway and briefing platform.
Diver's stairway and briefing platform.

As we walked around the lake we were unaware that we were missing the best view. The path to a big hole in the ground looking down into the underground river was not marked clearly. We soon found our way and a viewing platform allows you to see the divers as they prepare to head into the caves.

This hole in the ground was made by the collapse of the ceiling of a chamber containing the river. In other words, the roof fell in! This grotto opened up to reveal the river and cave system. In the caves, divers have found prehistoric animal and human bones dating back to 7500 BC.

You can snorkel the 72-degree waters around the opening of Devil’s Den. Cave divers require a secondary level of training to handle the special skills and safety requirements of caves.

The Devil’s Den has several rentable large picnic pavilions for group functions. We didn’t see anyone swimming in the lake on the property which appeared to be taken over by algae. However, the lake is loaded with freshwater fish. We saw bluegills and small bass along the banks.

The Devil’s Den is a private attraction and not operated by the state of Florida or local governments.

Devil's Den diving platform
As you look down into the large hole in the ground, you see the divers prior to their dive.
The lake on the grounds at Devil's Den.
The lake on the grounds at Devil's Den. Picnic grounds available also.

Williston, Florida – Peanuts, Ponies and Pristine

Peanuts, ponies and pristine are the words we thought of as we drove to Williton, Florida. We travel Florida – a lot! It would be hard to find another more picturesque few miles getting in and out of town.
 
On both sides of Rt. 121 heading north to Williston from Crystal River, we saw acres of peanut crops. After a little research, we discovered that Williston annually hosts Central Florida Peanut Festival. For the last 30 years, this event has been held in Williston on the first Saturday of October.
 
The second thing we noticed, both north of Williston and south of Williston on Rt. 27 were fabulous horse farms. The miles of painted fences and green pastures led to mansions of wealthy horse owners. The only other place we can compare these views to is around Ocala horse farm country. We also discovered that a former Kentucky Derby winner was trained in Williston. In 1975, the horse Foolish Pleasure won the Kentucky Derby.
 
The beautiful horse farms were matched by the overall cleanliness of Williston and the surrounding area. The roads, sidewalks, and berms were clean. Buildings were painted and well maintained. Many small towns in Florida suffer from people moving to more prosperous areas making it difficult to maintain a tax base.
 

Williston May Be Center of Prehistoric Activity

While doing research about Williston, we kept running across articles about fossils, new discoveries of prehistoric animals and, of course, the bones found in the caves of Devil’s Den.

We find it interesting that this area seems to be a hotbed for animals that roamed the earth millions of years ago. Below are links and information about nearby discoveries.

New Species of Heron Found – thousands of years old. 

Florida Museum of History Discussion and Map

Florida’s Fossil History 

Native American History Near Williston

These sites and the research we have done leads us to believe that Williston may have been an area where prehistoric creatures converged. There is some evidence, according to researchers, that there was a river that ran through the Williston area many millions of years ago. That river may have been a place to seek water, food and shelter for animals.

We do know that in our travels around Florida, we haven’t seen any other area with so much historical evidence of prehistoric creatures.

fossil digging volunteers
Volunteers assist Florida Museum of Natural History finding fossils near Williston.

This video shows the discovery of a huge site near Williston containing fossils that are millions of years old. This location is one of the largest finds in North America.

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