Florida Caverns State Park
Florida Guide > State Parks
As Florida has over 160 state parks covering some 700, 000 acres you are never very far away from one of the states areas of natural beauty and while the majority of visitors will probably base themselves in the Orlando area there are some who will want to venture further afield. This short article will introduce such visitors to one of the many the State Parks in the North West (or panhandle) region.
One of the most distinct parks in Florida is the Florida Caverns State Park. The caverns here, though less better known, are claimed by many to be equal in beauty to the caverns of Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and those of Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. Formed many thousands of years ago the caverns contain quite incredible formations of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, columns, rimstones, flowstones and draperies, as well as colonies of an endangered species of grey bat. Florida Caverns State park is the only Florida state park to offer cave tours to the public, with guided tours available hourly on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Tours are limited to 25 persons, on a first come first served basis, and last approximately 45 minutes. Tour fees (2009) are; 0-2 years of age-free, 3-12 $5. 00 plus tax each, 13 and up $8. 00 plus tax each.
In addition to the caves, the park’s one thousand three hundred acres are home to a wide variety of plants and animals including beavers, woodpeckers, alligators, rare Barbour' s map turtles, which are found only in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and snapping turtles. The park offers two nature trails that start at the Visitor Center and allow visitors to explore the beautiful rocky bluffs that tower above the river floodplain. The terrain is steep in places and is classed as ‘mildly strenuous’.
If you are touring then the site has 38 campsites with electric and water hook-ups available for reservation. The park also has a playground and, should you need to cool down after stretching your legs on one of the nature trails, then you have the choice of the Blue Hole swimming area, formed by a lake vent and situated near the campground, or alternatively there are public showers available.
For the casual day visitor the park has 6 picnic areas located throughout the park each with tables and grills and at the concession, located inside the Visitor Center you can buy refreshments and souvenirs. For more information and to check on conditions contact the park on (850) 482-9598.
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