Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, Florida

Hot Springs





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Listen up you hot spring lovers! If you haven’t heard of the Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park—yes, that’s quite a mouthful—you’re in for a treat.

Tucked away just a short drive from Gainesville, this park is like the Garden of Eden for anyone who loves the outdoors.

Trust me, it’s one of those places that makes even the staunchest Florida skeptics go, “Okay, this state’s not so bad!”

Location, Location, Location!

First things first: how do you get there?

The park is located about 25 miles south of Lake City and 20 miles northwest of Gainesville, making it an easy day trip from several major Florida cities.

The address is 7450 NE 60th St, High Springs, FL 32643. Just take US 27 south of High Springs and turn west onto NW 182nd Ave (also known as County Road 340).

You can’t miss it.

Thank you to CampTravelExplore for the video.

Entry Info and Fees

Open from 8 AM to sunset daily, the park has an entrance fee of $4-6 per vehicle.

But here’s a pro tip: it fills up super fast during weekends and holidays, so get there early.

Once the park reaches capacity, the gates close, and no one else gets in.

Diving into the Springs

The park is a sprawling oasis featuring multiple springs.

But the star of the show is Gilchrist Blue Spring, which pumps out a staggering 44 million gallons of water every day.

Think of it as nature’s swimming pool but way, way better. The water is a crystal-clear, mesmerizing blue that stays at a cool 72℉ year-round. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and just floating around, letting the world’s worries drift away.

So Much More to Explore

Don’t stop at just one spring!

Gilchrist Blue is the showstopper, sure, but there are other springs on-site worth checking out, such as Little Blue Spring, Naked Spring, Kiefer Spring, and Johnson Spring.

They’re more serene and offer excellent photography backdrops. Walk along the quarter-mile boardwalk that meanders beneath towering trees and gives you breathtaking views.

Family-Friendly Fun

Gilchrist Blue is fantastic for kids and families.

There’s a sandy beach area perfect for little ones to play, and the shallower sections of the water are safe for them to wade and swim.

Tubes, floats, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are allowed, but do note that it can get a bit crowded. So, be courteous—share the beauty, folks!

What About the Fish?

Snorkelers, get ready to be amazed.

The spring is a haven for fish and turtles. Get up close and personal with redbreast and spotted sunfish, largemouth bass, and bluegill, among others.

The water clarity is outstanding, offering unparalleled visibility.

Feeling Adventurous?

The park offers a range of outdoor activities like hiking, paddling, and nature study.

There are canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals on-site.

You can take a paddle down the spring run to where it joins the Santa Fe River and experience the blend of clear spring water with the dark tannic waters of the river. A sight to behold!

How About Camping?

Yes, you can make a weekend out of it!

There are 25 campsites near the main spring. RVs and campers usually take the numbered sites, while tent campers often prefer the lettered sites under the oak canopy for a more secluded feel.

A Gift from the Kirby Family

In 2017, the Kirby family sold this gem to the state of Florida to preserve its natural beauty. Let’s all honor that gift by enjoying it responsibly. Because of conservation efforts, some amenities, like a jumping platform, have been removed, but that’s a small price to pay to keep this place as pristine as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can you swim with manatees in Blue Springs?

No, you cannot swim with manatees in Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, even though there have been reports of herds there!

The park is primarily known for its clear springs and a variety of fish species, but it’s not a habitat for manatees.

However, if you’re interested in swimming with manatees, you might consider visiting other locations in Florida such as Crystal River or Homosassa Springs, where licensed tours allow you to have a controlled and respectful interaction with these gentle sea cows.

How early should I get to Blue Springs?

I’ve heard that the spring can reach its capacity limit on some days, leading to visitors being turned away. It’s advisable to arrive before 10 a.m. for the best experience.

When we visited on a Friday and got there at about 9:30 a.m., it was starting to get busy, but still plenty of room!

Final Thoughts

Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is a treasure that deserves to be on everyone’s Florida bucket list.

The only real downside? You might not want to leave. But hey, that’s why we keep coming back, right?

So take the plunge and experience one of Florida’s most captivating natural wonders. You won’t regret it.


Address: 7450 NE 60th St, High Springs, FL 32643, United States
Phone: 386-454-1369