By Jessica Baker
Most travelers who choose Florida as their camping destination presume that it’s all beaches and amusement parks. On the contrary, the sunshine state is actually home to the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world. Here I am happy to share with you the best freshwater springs for camping in Florida.
Its large aquifer below the surface of the entire state accounts for 90% of Floridian’s water source. It’s no surprise, then, that beyond a water supply, this freshwater phenomenon is also a hot spot for tourists and locals alike.
Whether you’re looking for a quick dip in one of the largest in the state, or to cool off in its perfectly temperate waters off the beaten path—there’s no shortage of activities around these watering holes.
While you probably are used to enjoying natural hot springs around the country, these wading pools stay cool year-round—the perfect ending to a long hike before you crawl into your tent. Visitors enjoy paddling in kayaks, scuba diving, snorkeling, and hiking along the rivers which flow into these natural wonders. Explore the best 11 fresh water springs for camping in the sunshine state as there are so many choices in both Northwest and North Florida.
Best Freshwater Springs for Camping in Florida: The Panhandle
While the Florida Panhandle doesn’t have the most number of campsites for your freshwater adventure, there are plenty of activities to draw you to this region. Here you will find some gems when it comes to Freshwater Springs for Camping in the Everglades state.
1. Vortex Spring, Ponce de Leon
If you’re an avid scuba diver, you’ll enjoy a fresh dip in Vortex Spring. Between the 7 campgrounds around the spring, you’ll enjoy a combined 40+ full hookup campsites. The biggest draw? This smaller spring doesn’t house as many tourists, so you’ll be able to enjoy the crystal clear waters sans crowds.
2. Pitt & Sylvan Spring
The most coveted spring in the Florida Panhandle, Pitt & Sylvan Spring have plenty to enjoy throughout the recreation site. The park is ten acres and is newly renovated. Enjoy a long hike with friends, then take a seat at the picnic benches to enjoy lunch after a swim in the refreshing water.
3. Baltzell Spring
Enjoy paddling through the upper Chipola River before a little hike to these surprisingly small freshwater gems. This full-day paddling trail will take you along the river where you’ll be able to enjoy a cave excursion unlike any other trip down along a Floridian river.
Best Freshwater Springs for Camping in Northern Florida
Northern Florida is no stranger to backpackers and campers. This area of Florida is situated with the aquifer closest to the surface, which means plenty of freshwater areas to explore. This region contains most of my picks of the best freshwater springs for camping in Florida.
4. Madison Blue Spring State Park
Nestled between Tallahassee and Lake City, these fresh springs will have you forgetting there’s a beach nearby. Enjoy a dip under pine trees in the contrast 72-degree water in this brand new state park.
5. Lafayette Blue Spring State Park
One of the first large springs discovered in Florida, this watering hole is located on the Suwannee River. Pamper yourself with a little glamping in the family-friendly, and handicap accessible, cabins.
6. Wes Skiles Peacock Spring Park
Underlying this spring is a cave system that connects two other springs. Popular with cave divers enjoy a daring adventure before settling in around the campfire when visiting one of the three Peacock springs. Skip the large summer crowds and enjoy a trip in the fall where you can see the bright red leaves changing on the gum trees surrounding the watering holes.
7. Hart Spring County Park
One of the less-crowded springs, enjoy a dip in these cool waters without the number of tourists found at its larger counterparts. Instead of a state-run park, the county maintains this freshwater beauty which is likely a reason for it’s smaller crowds.
8. Otter Springs Park & Campground
This veteran run park and campground can host RVers, tent campers, and everything in between. You’ll enjoy a smaller sized spring at this giant 500-acre campground. Not far off, also experience Hart Springs for a double-dip on your adventure.
9. Ichetucknee Springs State Park
A college-aged favorite, people flock from all over Florida to visit this natural wonder. Grab a tube rental and float or kayak down the spring from the first entrance and ending at the second.
10. Ginnie Springs, High Springs
Ginnie Springs is another scuba hotspot. Off the Santa Fe River, this spring is one of the clearest in the country—and a huge draw for tourists. If you’re not partial to diving, enjoy the surface-level snorkeling the spring boasts.
11. Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park
These six springs have just been deemed public land, and people have been enjoying its recreational activities since. Hike, kayak, or float between the many springs within this state park.
We do hope you love Jessica’s pick for the 11 Best Freshwater Springs for Camping in Florida. There is just so much to choose from.
Florida boasts over 1,000 freshwater springs. Considering the sheer number of these Floridian wonders, it can be tough to tailor your trip. Use this guide as your jumping-off point to decide which region in North and Northwestern Florida you want to visit, the springs you want to add to your bucket list, and the extras you can do along the way.