Thinking to visit Ichetucknee Springs State Park? Good choice it is without doubt one of the very best springs in Florida.
If you are on a Florida vacation and you are looking for a hidden gem to brag to your friends about – Ichetucknee is the perfect choice. Set within an enchanting forest, with crystal clear water and some of the best tubing in Florida along the Ichetucknee river – there is nothing not to love about Ichetucknee – one of Florida’s very best State Parks.
Keep reading for everything you need to know to visit including tubing, hiking, camping, where to stay nearby and more! Also, whether you’re likely to run into an alligator here. Spoiler: you probably won’t.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park- Everything You Need to Know
Ichetucknee Springs is a 2,669 acre Florida State Park. The park features a spring fed river that calls for an exciting adventure or a relaxing day on the river.
The park includes 8 crystal clear springs that connect to form the Ichetucknee River. The Ichetucknee River is 6 miles in length and it is the natural habitat for many native species including beavers, otters, gar, softshell turtles, wild turkeys, wood ducks and limpkins.
The park also features three nature trails that take you through the longleaf pine forest and sandhills. The upper portion of this sprawling state park is a National Landmark and is considered the best spring run in the entire state.
Activities available at Ichetucknee Springs
The park offers something for everyone. Activities visitors at the park enjoy include swimming, paddling, hiking, bird watching, picnicking, snorkeling, cave diving, kayaking, tubing and more.
The springs are the perfect place to go tubing or to enjoy other water activities because the water stays 72 degrees all year long. The spring run is best enjoyed during cooler months by canoeing or kayaking.
At the North Entrance, by the canoe launch, you can rent canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards through a service called Paddling Adventures. Paddling Adventures is located at the boathouse.
After you enjoy some fun on the water, go to the North or South Entrance. There you will find picnic tables and grills for you to refuel. For larger gatherings they also have covered pavilions available at the South Main Entrance.
Best time to visit Ichetucknee Springs
You can have a great time visiting Ichetucknee Springs anytime of the year but certain months may be better for certain activities.
Summer – Summer is the best time to go tubing. During tubing season, beginning the weekend before Memorial Day and ending Labor Day, the entire run is open.During the rest of the year parts of the run are closed for tubing.
Winter – Winter is the best time to go kayaking or canoeing.
Spring – Spring would be the best time to go hiking, bird watching and to soak in the sight of blooming fields of wildflowers.
No matter what time of year it is there is always something to enjoy at Ichetucknee Springs State Park.
Tubing Ichetucknee Springs along the pristine Ichetucknee River
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is the number one tubing destination in the entire state of Florida. The travel channel even named the Ichetucknee River “Florida’s Best Tubing River”.
Tubing is available at the South Main Entrance year-round however, tubing is only permitted on the beginning of the river between the weekend before Memorial Day through Labor Day.
While tubing, you will get to admire the best views of scenery between Midpoint and the South Takeout area. Here you will catch a glimpse of wildlife in their natural habitat.
Ichetucknee Springs features a naturally occurring “lazy river”. When you go tubing you will be taken on a relaxing trip by the gentle current underneath a canopy of oak, pine, cypress and maple trees.
At the park you will find two options for your tubing adventure, both accessed by the South Entrance.
Midpoint Tube Launch
The first option is called Midpoint Tube Launch. To access the launch, you will need to park at the South Entrance and purchase a tram wristband.
You will then ride the tram to Midpoint Tube Launch. On this tubing adventure you will float along the pristine waters and connect with nature. It will take you about 45 minutes to an hour to ride the gentle current to Dampier’s Landing.
If you want to continue this launch you can alternatively stay on the river and float an additional hour to South Takeout Point. This launch is open until 3PM every day or until daily capacity reaches 3,000 people.
Dampier’s Landing Launch
Your second launch option is Dampier’s Landing. To access this launch, you will also need to park at the south entrance and purchase a tram wristband.
You will then walk to the Dampier’s Landing Launch Point. This launch will have you drift along the river as the grasses sway beneath you. You will be taken beneath a beautiful canopy of trees. This launch is an hour trip that ends at South Takeout Point. This launch is open daily until 4PM.
Once you finish either launch you will be taken, by tram, back to the south entrance. If you ride the whole length in one trip it will take about an hour and a half.
Prohibited items while tubing include disposable items, alcohol, coolers, tobacco and pets. Water in a non-disposable drinking container is permitted.
You can reserve a tube and a time slot in advance through the park’s website or you can purchase a rental at the General Store located at the South Entrance.
Tube Hire Rates
Tubing rates are as follows:
• Regular tube: $7.00
• XL Tube: $9.00
• Triple Tube: $21.00
• Headrest Tube: $10.00
• Mesh Single Tube: $13.00
• Mesh Bottom Double: $26.00
• Headrest Double Tube: $20
• Kayak Lounge: $16.00
• Raft (max 2 people: $30.00
• Life Vest: $7.00
Rates do not include park admission, tram bus or van transportation through the park or tax.
Swimming in the Springs
Ichetucknee Springs State Park offers two, crystal clear springs to enjoy for swimming. The first spring, Ichetucknee Spring, can be found right at the North Entrance of the park. It’s located about 200 feet from the parking area.
This spring is the headwaters of the Ichetucknee River. Ichetucknee Spring offers easy access into the water for guests including features like a stone wall with stone steps and an ADA friendly lift.
Blue Hole Spring
The second spring available at the park for swimming is Blue Hole Spring.
To get to Blue Hole Spring you have to hike about a half of a mile down a scenic trail. The trail is called Blue Hole Trail. The trail begins at the North Entrance at a boardwalk that is located between the parking area and Ichetucknee Spring.
Blue Hole Spring is more secluded and is usually a lot less crowded than Ichetucknee Spring. The water in both springs stays 72 degrees all year long.
If you are looking to Hike then you’re in the right place because the park includes four miles of scenic trails that take you past interesting rock formations, fields of beautiful wild flowers and historical phosphate mines, which all make for an amazing scenic hike.
There are three trails and they can all be accessed from the North Entrance. Trail maps are available at the ranger station or the information booth.
Blue Hole Trail
The shortest trail is the Blue Hole Trail. Here you will walk through the Ichetucknee forest and Cypress flood plain. The trail is a half mile long and takes you to Blue Hole Spring which is the largest spring in the entire park.
Between October and March, certified cave divers are allowed to dive into Blue Hole. It’s an amazing experience through a complex cave system located 40 feet below the surface.
Trestle Point Trail
Trestle Point Trail will take you along the clear waters of the river on a shaded path. You will be transported back in time as you walk past phosphate ore mines dating back to the early 1900’s. The trail will take about 30 min to complete.
Pine Ridge Trail
Pine Ridge Trail is the longest trail at the park. This part of the park is sometimes overlooked but it shouldn’t be. The trail features breathtaking sandhills, towering pine trees and wide-open views of beautiful scenery.
The trail is a two-mile loop and will take about an hour and fifteen minutes to complete.
Hours, Cost, Location and Arrival
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is in Fort White, FL which is about 25 min from Lake City. The park is on U.S. Highway 27. The exact street address for the park is 12087 Southwest, US-27, Fort White, FL 32038.
The park itself is open every day of the week, all year long, from 8:00 AM until sundown.
The South Gate however, is closed to vehicles from April 1st to October 1st. During these months the South Takeout is available for tubing and paddling but it must be accessed by the river. You can park at the South Parking Lot and use the tram service or the hiking trail to get there.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is a great place to visit with your friends, your family, a large group or even by yourself.
Cost of Admission
The cost of admission is very affordable. If you arrive in a vehicle by yourself the cost of admission will be $4.00. If you have others with you (two to eight people) the cost is $6.00. Motorcycle admission (one to two people) is $4.00. Each passenger in a vehicle with a holder of an Annual Individual Entrance Pass will pay $2.00 for admission.
Each pedestrian, each bicyclist and each extra passenger will also pay $2.00 for admission. Admission will grant you entry through either of the two park entrances for the entire day to enjoy the park’s many activities.
North Entrance Info
The North Entrance is reserved for swimmers and guests renting watercrafts other than tubes. There is a limited amount of parking spaces available.
Here you will find the springs and hiking trails. The tubing/paddling run also begins at the North Entrance however the upper portion of the run is only open in the summer. The address for the North Entrance is 8294 SW Elim Church Road, Fort White, FL 32038.
South Entrance Info
The park’s South Entrance is for anyone tubing. Even if you are tubing at the North Launch during the summer, you still need to park at the South Entrance and take the tram up to the North Launch.
Using the South Entrance will guarantee your entrance for all reserved tubes. The address for the South Entrance is 12087 SW US HW 27, Fort White, FL 32038.
Transportation inside the Springs
There is in-park transportation available for park guests for a fee. The park has both a tram and a shuttle. The tram costs $5.50 (plus tax) per person and it runs between Midpoint and South Takeout.
The tram is used as a means of transportation back to the South Entrance parking after a tube run. The shuttle costs $7.50 and includes a shuttle ride and a tram ride back after your tube run.
The shuttle will take you from the Midpoint up to the North Entrance Launch to begin your tube run. Please note that you can not ride either the tram or the shuttle carrying tubes that are personally owned or rented somewhere other than the park itself.
Where to stay near Ichetucknee Springs
There is so much to do at Ichetucknee Springs State Park that you may want to stay for a few days so you can enjoy everything it has to offer. There is no camping or lodging inside the park itself but there are some accommodations nearby.
Hotel and Motels near Icheteucknee
If you are looking to stay at a hotel or motel there are options in nearby towns. The closest place is High Springs Country Inn located in High Springs, FL.
The Inn is about 13 miles from the park and will only cost about $80.00 per night. It does not feature a large list of amenities but other guests say the rooms are nice and clean and the staff is attentive to their needs.
The front desk and vending machines are open 24 hours a day. There is also a grill and picnic area available for the guests of the inn. Pets are not permitted.
A great option not much farther than the inn is Grady House Bed and Breakfast. Previous guests have rated the bed and breakfast 10 out of 10 for cleanliness, location and staff. Grady House offers more amenities than the inn but will also cost more per night. A night’s stay here will cost you about $212.00.
The bed and breakfast offers free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a shared lounge, a shared garden, a shared terrace, rooms with flat screens, rooms with fully equipped kitchens, private bathrooms with showers and hair dryers.
They also offer an à la carte breakfast. There are nature parks nearby that offer cycling, canoeing and fishing. Pets are allowed to stay with you upon request and an additional fee may apply. Grady House is just over 13 miles from Ichetucknee State Park.
If you are willing to stay a bit farther from the park to get more amenities at a better price then you should check out Comfort Suites in Lake City, FL. Comfort Suites is about 16.5 miles from Ichetucknee State Park.
It’s located within walking distance to some great restaurants and a short drive from some popular shopping centers. The hotel features clean rooms with a modern design. Some amenities include free Wi-Fi, free weekday newspaper, free local calls and free coffee.
They have a full breakfast buffet every morning and if you have to leave before the buffet begins, they offer grab and go breakfast bags.
There is a swimming pool, a hot tub, a fitness center, a relaxing waterfall in the lobby and an onsite 24-hour business center with a public computer that has internet access and copy and fax services. Your stay at this amenity packed hotel will cost about $130.00 per night.
Icheteucknee Springs Camping Nearby
If you are looking for an experience closer to nature, or if you are on a tight budget, camping may be a better option for you.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is centrally located between some great camping options where you can immerse yourself in nature. These camping options are filled with things you can do without even having to leave.
Note: There is no camping inside the park but there is camping nearby including one spot called Icheteucknee Springs Campground which you can check out.
Here are some more great nearby camping options, which offer more nature opportunities:
Lafayette Blue Springs State Park
Lafayette Blue Springs State Park is one of the river camps along the Suwannee River. It’s a great choice if you are looking to go camping.
The camp features a bath house with running water, electric grills, fire pits and a tent camping area.
You will also find 5 sleeping pavilions for larger groups. They can sleep 6-8 people. The pavilions each have a picnic table and a fire ring. There is a broom in each shelter and they ask that you sweep out the shelter before you leave so it is clean for the next visitors.
There is usually a camp host onsite that will sometimes have firewood for sale. It’s a good idea to reach out to the park in advance to inquire about any admission fees and if any of the sleep sites require a reservation.
You can enjoy beautiful trails at this park as well as water access to the springs right at the camp sites. The address for the park is 799 NW Blue Springs Road, Mayo, FL, 32066
O’leno State Park
O’leno State Park was built in the 1930’s and is one of the state’s first parks. The park is located on the Santa Fe River which is a tributary of the Suwannee River.
The park has an amazing landscape featuring a river that runs through the park then goes underground. Three miles away the river comes back up in River Rise Preserve State Park.
As you explore O’leno State Park you will find sinkholes, river swamps, sand hills and hardwood canopied forests. You can spend the day hiking or riding a bike down the trails of the park.
Or you could have some fun on the river. It’s a great spot to launch a canoe or cast a line out into the water and catch some fish.
There are also pavilions along the edge of the river that are perfect for refueling and catching some shade.
The park also has a full facility campground that makes it the perfect place to camp when visiting the close by Ichetucknee springs.
The campground at O’leno State Park has 60 family campsites, three primitive camps, ten primitive backpacking camp sites and primitive sites located at their horse barn area.
The family campsite amenities include an in-ground grill, water, electric, a picnic table and access to a nearby bathhouse. You can make camping reservations through the Florida State Parks reservations website. The address for the park is 410 SE Oleno Park Rd, High Springs, FL 32643.
Dog and Pet Policy at Ichetucknee Springs
You are allowed to bring your dogs with you to Ichetucknee Springs State Park however, they must be well behaved.
If you do decide to bring your dog to the park you must keep them on a leash, no longer than six feet, at all times. You are not allowed to leave your dog unattended for more than thirty minutes. Well behaved dogs are always welcome on the Trestle Point and Pine Ridge trails.
They are not allowed on the trails to the springs or the river and they are not allowed to go into the springs or the river. You must always pick up after your dogs or other pets.
Keep in mind that according to the Florida State Parks pet policy, well behaved domestic pets are allowed at all state parks but are never allowed on beaches or playgrounds or in cabins, bathing areas, concession facilities or park buildings.
Wildlife at Ichetucknee
Ichetucknee Springs is the natural habitat for a thriving array of different types of wildlife. The area is a highly protected natural spring ecosystem.
While visiting you will see many different species of plants and animals. You may hear the hoot of different species of owls, the sharp cries of the American Kestrel or even the song of the Bachman Sparrow.
Take a look up in the trees and you’re bound to see Sherman’s Fox Squirrels bouncing from branch to branch. Common snakes you may see are the Short Tailed and Eastern Indigo snakes.
In the fields and sandhills you will see Gopher Tortoises and different species of butterflies
In the water or along its banks you will also see different animals including turtles, manatees, Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtles, the Ichetucknee Silt Snail, the Santa Fe Crayfish and more. If you enjoy viewing wildlife in their natural habitat then you will love Ichetucknee Springs State Park.
FAQ of Ichetucknee Springs
Are there manatees at the spring? You may see manatees in the water at the springs. Sightings are more frequent in the winter because many manatees travel to the springs to escape the cold, winter water of the open ocean.
Are there alligators at the spring? Although alligator encounters happen all throughout Florida, they are rare at Ichetucknee Springs. If you do see alligators, they are usually just basking on the banks of the river trying to stay warm and they do not normally interfere with guests.
Does Ichetucknee Springs Take Credit Cards? Ichetucknee Springs accepts all major credit and debit cards for any of the rentals or services they offer.
Can you drink at Ichetucknee springs? Alcohol is not permitted in the park. You can have non-alcoholic beverages in the park but if you are going out on the water you can only have water in a non-disposable container. If you want a beverage Ginnie Springs is nearby and you are permitted to drink there as it is private spring.