Looking to visit the amazing Devils Den – Florida’s incredible prehistoric spring?
Everyone knows that Florida is known as the sunshine state, rightfully. But what many people don’t know is that it could just as easily be known as the freshwater spring state. With nearly a thousand natural springs, Florida has some breathtaking places which are definitely worth exploring. And Devil’s Den Prehistoric Springs is no different.
About Devils Den Prehistoric Spring
Devil’s Den, located in north central Florida, is one of the oldest and most visited places in the state. Offering an awesome experience for aquatic lovers, snorkelers can enjoy a 120 feet of surface area to swim about, going down a maximum of 8 feet, while certified divers can dive to the bottom of the 54-foot waters and explore their 4 different underwater passageways. Deeper dive areas are quite dark, though, so be sure to bring your diving lights!
Privately owned and bringing in thousands of snorkelers and divers every year, Devil’s Den is an incredible oasis of ancient formations of rock that date back over 30 million years. Known as karat, or the dissolution of limestone by acid, the resulting topography was essentially a natural spring sinkhole with an explorable cave! With a sky view above and over 50 feet of crystal-clear water below, this consistently 72-degree water hole is definitely worth a visit.
Getting its name from the fog that rises from its opening, which looks like smoke, Devil’s Den is not connected to any river or ocean. So there are no sharks, alligators, manatee or any other dangerous wildlife in these waters. Prehistoric tusked pigs and elephant-like creatures once roamed this area but now it’s simply home to some interesting catfish, guppies and a turtle named Nelson.
Directions, Hours and Contact Information
Located at 5390 NE 180th Ave, Williston, FL 32696, Devil’s Den provides snorkeling by reservation only and diving on a first come, first serve basis. Certified divers will not have to wait for entry during the day but, for night diving, reservation and registration are both required.
Also, a waiver is required for adults who are chaperoning children that are not legal dependents. Reservations are recommended 2-3 days in advance for weekdays and 1-2 weeks in advance for weekends but there isn’t necessarily any time of year that is better to go than another.
They’re also open 7 days a week, 356 a year (excluding Christmas) so there’s plenty of opportunity to visit. Their hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 9am – 5pm and Friday through Sunday they’re open from 8am – 5pm for an extra hour of snorkeling in the morning, which is nice. Also, keep in mind, they take their last reservation for the day at 4pm, an hour before closing and everyone must be out of the water by 5pm. Snorkeling lasts 90 minutes and diving has no time limitation. Feel free to dive all day!
To contact Devils Den, they can be reached by telephone at 352-528-3344 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, make sure you check out their social media pages. They’re on Facebook at Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring, on Snapchat at devilsdenspring and on Instagram at devilsden_spring. Their website suggests they are maintaining social distancing due to the pandemic but that hasn’t been updated. One phone call will indicate that all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
Devil’s Den has 4 cabins and over 30 RV sites for rent, as well as offering tent camping. Cabins sleep 4 and include kitchen basics like a mini fridge, microwave and sink. There’s a two-night minimum stay on weekends but, during the week, one night is $160, two nights is $140 per night and three or more nights is $115 per night.
Most RV sites offer electric, sewer and water and back in and pull through are both available. Prices range from $45 for a night to $475 for an entire month. Tent camping is $22 per person for adults and $10 per child. Children 7 and younger are free. Electricity and water are both included with camping and porta-potties are available, as well as the facilities on site.
Reservations are required for all lodging but, for tent camping, the reservation only holds a site, not a specific one. Sites are secured on a first come, first serve basis. And they don’t allow late check ins so you’ll want to make sure you’re there before 5pm. No exceptions. Also, you must be at least 18 years old for any lodging accommodation and none of the lodging fees include snorkeling or diving. Those fees are paid separately. Snacks and drinks are available in the gift shop, along with memorabilia like t-shirts, postcards, magnets and more.
Information for Snorkelers, Divers and Instructors
For divers, an open water certification or above is required, as well as strict adherence to safety protocol. Furthermore, there are underwater signs that indicate beyond boundary areas. No doubles, reels, re-breathers, knives or side mounts are allowed and it is respectfully requested that rock and fossils not be removed. For snorkelers, no certification is required. Unfortunately, due to the strict insurance regulations that come with being a dive training center, free diving and free swims are not allowed.
Admission for divers is $38 and all divers must have a “dive buddy” with them. (Don’t have a dive buddy? Check out divebuddy.com. It’s a great online platform for orchestrating an upcoming dive if you’re going at it alone but need someone to go along for your dive.) Individual diving equipment is available for rent such as wet suits, tanks, masks, snorkel, etc. Or, if you need to rent full diving gear, that’s available, too, which includes a mask, a snorkel, fins, boots, a regulator, a BCD (buoyancy control device), a tank, a wetsuit, weights and an LED light. The entire set is $45 and individual pieces start at $4 and range to about $20. Additionally, air fills are $8 but they do not have nitrox capability. For night diving, divers must be advanced certified or with an instructor.
Admission for snorkeling is $15 during the week and $22 on weekends and holidays. Mask, snorkel and fins are required but they are not included with the purchase of admission. They are, however, available for rent for an additional $12, or $4 per item.
A walk thru admission is available for only $7 but it does not permit entry into the den. This admission allows exploration of the cave, just not descendance into the den.
Devil’s Den does not offer diving lessons but they do allow dive training. They’re not affiliated with any shops or trainers though. Insured instructors with proof of valid diving insurance and instructor certification will have their dive fee waived. Certified dive instructors also enjoy special rates for student admissions, gear rental, air fills, pavilion and cabana reservations as well as a heated swimming pool for testing skills. These areas are not open to the general public, unfortunately. Students MUST have a waiver and remain with the dive instructor at all times.
Children and Pets
Children under 6 are not allowed and children 18 and younger must be accompanied by a legal guardian. Any child not with a legal guardian must have a signed consent giving another chaperon permission to be responsible. That form is available online, to be printed and signed before arrival. Because children are not allowed to have floatation devices, it is highly recommended that each child be an avid swimmer.
Pets are not allowed on Devil’s Den property and they even reserve the right to refuse service dogs. However, your furry friends are allowed at the RV park, on a leash of course.
Devil’s Den Florida death
One of the questions we commonly get asked about is how many deaths in Devils Den have there been?
To answer this question, there have been 2 deaths in Florida’s Devil’s Den. Deaths most often occur due to inexperience diving spring caves. If you are inexperienced with cave or cavern training, we would not suggest you attempt a cave dive at Devil’s Den.
If you have time to stay, why not check out some of the other nearby springs? There are several more in each direction, each delivering an entirely different experience.
Just north, for example, is Ginnie Springs. Like Devil’s Den, they have snorkeling and diving but they offer tubing, paddleboarding and free swims, too. Located less than an hour away, Ginnie Springs also offers lodging which include tent sites, RV sites or a cozy little cottage.
Primitive tent camping along the spring and the Santa Fe River are first come, first serve but all of their RV sites are available with a reservation only. Or, for all the amenities of being in the comfort of your own home, choose to stay in their 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom “Ginnie Cottage,” which sleeps eight. They’re open Monday through Thursday from 8am – 5pm, Friday through Sunday from 8am – 7pm and Sundays from 8am – 6pm year around.
Admission starts at $15 for adults and $5 for children with optional add-ons for tubing and paddleboarding. Pets are not allowed anywhere on the grounds of Ginnie Springs, including emotional support animals.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park, home of Florida’s natural lazy river, is also less than an hour north of Devil’s Den. They offer snorkeling, diving, cave exploration, hiking trails, tubing, canoeing, kayaking and casual swimming holes. Snorkeling is available in designated areas and diving is allowed in Blue Hole Spring for certified cavern and cave divers.
Be aware there is a half mile walk to Blue Hole Spring in which you’ll be carrying your gear so some divers bring something along that rolls. For the nature enthusiasts alike, you can enjoy any of their three trails which range from a half mile to two miles. Or, to unwind instead, drift down six miles of clear, blue-green waters while relaxing beneath the natural canopies of the trees. Because it’s made up of nine different springs, there are no alligators at Ichetucknee but there’s a strong possibility of a few snakes. Hours are from 8am to sunset with admission starting at $6 a day per vehicle.
Individual activities and additional fees are added on separately. Tubing, for example, costs $5.50 for the tram. You can bring your own tube, of course, but if you don’t have one, they’re available for rent which can range from $7 to $30. Alcohol is prohibited throughout the park and floating coolers are prohibited on the river. Leashed pets are welcome.
Rainbow Springs State Park
Going in the opposite direction you’ll find Rainbow Spring State Park. Just a short twenty-minute drive south will land you amongst some of the most ornate gardens and beautiful manmade waterfalls in all of Florida!
One of the largest springs in the states, here you’ll find similar activities to other local springs in the area like snorkeling, diving, swimming, tubing, canoeing, kayaking and camping. Also similar are admission and other costs. Tubing is $2 per person with $20 tube rentals available. A shuttle fee is required as well.
Because Rainbow Spring is connected to Rainbow River, again, you’ll want to be cautious of any snakes but alligators won’t be found in this spring either. Tent and RV camping are offered at their full-facility campground and includes 60 available sites. Sites go fast, though, so reservations are recommended. Fishing is allowed only in the campground for registered campers and leashed pets are permitted except for swimming areas or inside buildings.
Blue Grotto Dive Resort
Looking for something even closer? Only two miles south is Blue Grotto Dive Resort. For divers of different levels, including dive training, Blue Grotto may be a place you’d want to check out. As a favorite freshwater dive resort for locals and tourists alike, it brings in divers from around the state and around the world.
However, because it’s designated specifically for diving, weekend swimmers and snorkelers are only allowed in the water if accompanied by a certified open water diver. Weekday swimmers and snorkelers can enjoy more freedom since there is less dive training taking place between instructors and students. Solo diving isn’t allowed here, either, so you’ll need to make sure you have a dive buddy with you. It has plenty of water to explore, though. As the largest natural spring in the north central part of the state, it has 100 feet of explorable waters.
These waters are home to some koi fish and two turtles – Miss Virgil and Mr. Turbo – but, as a freshwater cave, there aren’t any alligators in these waters either. Blue Grotto is open 7 days a week from 8am-5pm except for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. Diver admission cost is $38 while snorkel admission cost is $18. A non-diver admission only costs $6 for those not planning to enter the water. And, like a lot of other dive locations, Blue Grotto also offers night dives which must be reserved in advance. Want to dive but don’t have the equipment? Blue Grotto offers a dive admission with full gear for just over a hundred dollars. There’s really no reason not to check this place out!
Silver Springs State Park
In Oscala, only 30 minutes east, is Silver Springs State Park. Here you can either rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard to explore the five-mile Silver River or, for the less adventurous, a glass bottom boat for a scenic tour of Silver Springs.
Open 7 days a week, 365 days a year including holidays, their admission fees range from $2 to $8. Their glass bottom boats are available for rent from 10am-4pm. These rentals start at $13 for a half hour tour and $25 for an hour and a half. The longer tours are available only on weekends, though, with the half hour excursions offered daily. Paddle, kayak and canoe rentals with a shuttle service from Ray Wayside Park, about a five-mile ride, are $45 if you plan to make a day of it. Otherwise, a full day rental without the shuttle service is $40 and includes paddles and life jacket.
Or, for shorter visits, a one-hour rental costs $25 and two-hour rental costs $35. On the other hand, if you bring your own, there is only a $4 launch fee in addition to admission. All rentals are first come, first serve but parties of 9 or more are strongly encouraged to make a reservation. Camping is an option at Silver Springs, too. They have 10 cabins and nearly 60 tent and RV sites.
Service animals are welcome everywhere but, otherwise, dogs are only allowed on the campground but not inside any buildings or on any of the glass bottom boats. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the Silver Springs Museum for $2. It has several neat exhibits that feature Florda’s natural history. They’re only open on weekends from 10am – 4pm and children younger than 6 are free.
Manatee Springs State Park
Or, only 30 minutes west is Manatee Springs State Park. As imagined, it’s home to hundreds of manatee, primarily in the winter and spring.
Open seven days a week from 8am – 5pm, they offer boating, kayaking, swimming and fishing. They don’t, however, have snorkeling or diving. Entry is $6 per vehicle and camping is available. Dogs are allowed as long as they’re leashed.
Fishing is allowed off the 800-foot boardwalk and bass, catfish and panfish are most frequently caught. Over 8 miles of nature nails and over 30 more miles of the Nature Coast State Trail make this a solid option for the nature enthusiasts.
Cedar Key Island
For more fishing and more enjoyment for the nature lovers in the group, Cedar Key Island is another amazing little spot nearby. Located on the gulf coast only 45 minutes west of Devil’s Den, this small town with quaint cottages has a warm, artistic, eclectic vibe.
Famous for their annual Celebration of the Arts Festival and their annual Seafood Festival, Cedar Key brings in thousands of tourists a year. Full of nature trails and an abundance of bird life, this incredible island city sits surrounded by the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge. Once a thriving seaport, Cedar Key still monetizes their local seafood through some very tasty cuisine.
And they’re no stranger to beachy island boutiques, either, so make sure to check those out while you’re there too. Paddle, hike, bike or relax – on Cedar Key, the choice is yours!
Cedar Lake Woods and Gardens
For two more profoundly beautiful landscapes, Cedar Lake Woods and Gardens is an incredible botanical garden with some awesome man-made waterfalls. What started as an abandoned and polluted limestone quarry swamp nearly 30 years ago is now a cove of lush greenery, flowers and wildlife.
Here you’ll find hundreds of tropical plants and indigenous flowers, island style koi ponds and captivating views. Along the trails of the 1.5 hour long self-guided tour, you’re likely to come across massive owls, beautiful birds of prey, dozens of amphibians or you may even get a glimpse of Guenevere the swan!
And sitting just next door is Two Hawk Hammock, which offers an entirely different experience. With barnyard animals and flying trapeze, what’s not to love? One of the most noteworthy things of Two Hawks Hammock is the beautiful old live oak tree which they’re known for (and also has to do with how they got their name, too). Lodging accommodations are available at Two Hawk with single room availability as well the option to rent the entire cottage.
From botanical to barnyard, these two places have something unique to offer. And with both of them so close to Devil’s Den, they’re worth checking out. Cedar Lake is open daily from 930am – 5pm except for Wednesdays and Christmas. Admission is $12 for adults, $7 for children and $6 with a military ID. Kids 5 and under are free and leashed dogs are permitted. At Two Hawks, there is a $5 general entry, or a $10 “Try To Fly” entry.
Children and leashed dogs are free here, too. Gates open at 4pm and they even offer an exclusive after-hours tour of Devil’s Den. So, experience the den during the day and come back another night for a guided evening tour. Kind of a two for one with so much to see and experience!
North central Florida has lots of breathtaking options for nature and aquatic lovers. And Devil’s Den is just one of them! Stop in for a dive or stay the night. Take a day to explore local springs or enjoy local cuisine. Either way, as one of the oldest and most prehistoric springs in Florida, and with so many incredibly fun and relaxing nearby attractions, Devil’s Den Spring is worth adding to the bucket list!