We are fascinated by Florida’s natural springs. Many of them produce the headwaters of rivers that supply the lowlands with nourishing fresh uncompromised water. One of those springs is in the panhandle about 15 miles south of Tallahassee. On this Florida road trip, we start in the panhandle.
History of Wakulla Springs
As you enter the area known as the panhandle – Florida’s westerly protrusion – you enter Wakulla County, named for a river lumbering through the forest to the gulf. That river is the Wakulla River which has its headwaters at the largest spring in the world, Wakulla Springs. While the water flow is 300 million gallons a day, which is less than Silver Springs at 550 million gallons, the reason it is considered the largest is the underwater cave system that produces a good size lake.
In 1850 a visitor saw mastodon bones at the bottom of the lake which led to years of study by scientists who found more bones of other animals at a depth of 190 feet. More studies have continued for over a hundred years. Some of the results are in the Florida Museum of History at Tallahassee. Needless to say, the area has been used by man and animals for thousands of years.
The State of Florida Takes Over
The state of Florida opened a state park called Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park in 1966. The park has over 6000 acres for swimming, camping, hiking and other activities. But what makes the park and Florida road trip unique is the lodge.
Edward Ball built the Wakulla lodge in 1935 and sold the area to Florida in the late 1960s. The lobby at the lodge is massive and is adjacent to a large gift shop that still has Edward Ball’s custom-built 70-foot granite bar.
If you have a Florida road trip on your mind, this is a place to get away from city life or beach life. The lake supports a large swimming area – but I warn you about the temperature of the spring water – all Florida road trip springs – they are all at a chilling 72 degrees.
There are great trails around the river along with canoe rentals nearby. If you must stray from the park, you are 30 minutes from Tallahassee, 30 minutes from St. Marks on the Gulf and less than 90 minutes from Apalachicola, Florida, the former oyster capital of Florida.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is a must-see for Florida road trip people. Even those from Georgia can easily make their way south.
For more information about Florida State Parks we visit, click here.
For more Florida Road Trips, check ours out here.