Located in the heart of North Florida's boundless forests lie hundreds of great magnitude crystalline springs, faithfully feeding several rivers and waterways throughout the state. Just fifteen miles south of Tallahassee, we are lucky to have Wakulla Springs, one of the deepest and largest freshwater springs in the world (perfect for cannon-balls and snorkeling)! The Wakulla Spring is at the head of the 11-mile long Wakulla River, which carries the spring's overflow south to the Gulf of Mexico.
While of course the history of Wakulla Springs goes back millions of years, it wasn't until the late 1800's (shortly after Florida was admitted to the United States) that scientific intrigue of the springs began to take root. By the early to mid 1900's, Wakulla Springs really started poppin' off as both a scientific marvel and popular public park for swimming and excursions. In 1931, ancient fossilized remains from the last glacial period were discovered at the bottom of the springs (ya know, that mastodon on display at the Museum of Florida History), securing its role as an early-day ecological gold mine. Near that time filmmakers began to recognize the relevance and beauty of the springs as well, making it an ideal location for outdoor and underwater films like Tarzan, Ariport '77 and Creatures from the Black Lagoon.
Commercial development and geological exploration (sorta sad to group those together) continued at the springs, consequently adding more attention, preservation, and even acreage to the original park.
Today, Wakulla Springs is an official State Park of about 6,000 acres. The park acts as a wildlife refuge for fish, limpkins, wading birds, mergansers, wood ducks, anhingas, water snakes, gator moms, deer, turtles and manatees. It's underwater cave and system of conduits continue to be researched, after years of studies and expeditions, due its overwhelming size and connection to the Leon sinks.
These days, Wakulla Springs State Park has easily found way to the rituals of warm weather here in North Florida. The jungle-like surroundings makes for a lovely day trip, complete with wild-crafting, nature viewing, manatee gawking and platform diving. There's also a beach-like shoreline which makes a great place to relax and appreciate the wild natural history, culture and unbridled beauty of Old Florida. If you’re not up for a swim, the glass-bottom boat ride might be the ideal way to spend your visit -- and catch a glimpse of the mastodon skeleton on the spring ocean floor. Or for a beaten path that’s off the beaten path, check out the various nature trails surrounding the property. The 1-mile-long Sally Ward trail allows hikers to explore some of the 3,000 acres of pristine forest surrounding the spring run. Pro tip: It gets real busy at the park during the summer, so try and beat the crowd by arriving early.
A natural beauty and noted geological wonder, North Florida should be so proud to play home to this state park. Anyone who has spent longer than at least a few days in Tallahassee during the warmer seasons, hopefully has been to Wakulla Springs at least once. If not, make the visit this year!! Hell, if you weren't traumatized as a kid by your bathing suit accidentally falling off after jumping from that high dive, then I dare say you are no native.
-Elizabeth & Sarah