11 Best Freshwater Springs for Camping in Florida USA

Best Freshwater Springs for Camping in Florida

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.

North West Florida Freshwater Springs

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.

 

Freshwater Springs at Wakulla
Freshwater Springs at Wakulla

 

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.

Northern Florida Freshwater Springs

 

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.

 

Freshwater Springs at Ichetucknee
Freshwater Springs at Ichetucknee

 

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.

 

Guest Blogger at | Website

Jessica develops high-quality content for the travel, lifestyle, tech, and finance industries. Her work can be seen featured on sites like Better Homes and Gardens and WikiHow. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling to far off places hauling her backpack.

46 thoughts on “11 Best Freshwater Springs for Camping in Florida USA

  • September 10, 2020 at 7:56 pm
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    Great article – so many places I’ve never even heard of! The Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park photo is just magical, I can’t believe that water can be so blue.

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  • August 20, 2020 at 11:56 am
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    This was a very comprehensive guide – thanks for sharing.

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  • August 17, 2020 at 12:57 pm
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    Firstly, When I think of Florida I think of alligators, I would always assume one would pop up in any water ahah! I didn’t know there were so many freshwater springs in Florida!! Vortex Spring sounds awesome as we love to dive we will definitely have to check that out! Going to look into Ichetucknee springs for sure a kayaking day out sounds like fun! Thanks for enlightening me to what beauty there is besides Disney in Florida lol! We hope to move here one day!

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  • August 7, 2020 at 1:57 pm
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    Good to know some freshwater springs for camping in Florida and before reading your post, I was not knowing that Florida has so many camping sites. Freshwater Springs at Wakulla looks great as it is surrounded by lots of greenery. Even the Freshwater Springs at Ichetucknee looks very beautiful with that wooden quaint stairs. Thanks for sharing some offbeat locations which are full of nature too.

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  • August 7, 2020 at 9:48 am
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    Camping around freshwater springs sound like a perfect getaway even during the times of social distancing. The photograph from Ichetucknee looks great. Would have loved to see more pictures. Florida having 1000 freshwater springs sounds absolutely new fact to me. Thanks for sharing.

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  • August 7, 2020 at 8:22 am
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    Although I love the sea, amusement parks have never given me a great high. Freshwater Springs is again what I love. I could visualize myself at the Florida Pitt & Sylvan Spring enjoying a long hike with my wife, sitting at a picnic bench, having a swim in the refreshing water and then having our lunch. Honestly I was not aware that there are so many freshwater springs in Florida. Thanks for the info.

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  • August 6, 2020 at 10:22 am
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    Florida is such a fab place to explore the outdoors. We have so many places in the UK too, we are all very lucky x

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    • August 8, 2020 at 2:47 am
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      Any water in Florida is sketchy- I think gators! I never thought of Florida having so many fresh water lakes. What beautiful water at Ichetucknee Springs. Even I would check that out. Gators or no gators!

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  • August 4, 2020 at 10:57 pm
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    Isn’t nature lovely? The freshwater springs are so beautiful. Can imagine how many oysters are in there.

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    • August 5, 2020 at 6:36 pm
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      I had no idea oysters could live in freshwater springs, but really interesting! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  • August 4, 2020 at 6:10 pm
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    looks so good. I really want to go camping soon (but I am not sure if I will be able to this year at all)

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    • August 5, 2020 at 6:36 pm
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      Definitely a bummer that things have been postponed, but at least we have plenty of time to make some awesome plans + create routes!

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  • August 4, 2020 at 12:12 pm
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    I just love nature hikes! Freshwater springs are my type and camping is so much of fun.

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    • August 5, 2020 at 6:35 pm
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      Right?! You can’t beat ending a long day of hiking with a dip in a freshwater spring.

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  • August 4, 2020 at 7:40 am
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    I have not visited Florida and I haven’t been camping in such a long time. I will keep these fresh water springs in mind if and when we do get a chance to travel to Florida. All of them are so pretty. Perfect place to relax and enjoy some outdoors fun with the fam.

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    • August 4, 2020 at 3:54 pm
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      Such a good family-friendly activity! Hope you’re able to get away soon, Kristine 🙂

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  • August 4, 2020 at 6:26 am
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    These look all incredible, I want to go now! Mesmerized with the Springs at Ichetucknee, beautiful!

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    • August 4, 2020 at 3:53 pm
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      Definitely some magic going on below Florida’s surface! Glad you enjoyed, Amalia 🙂

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  • August 4, 2020 at 6:08 am
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    This is a great list. I have been wanting to visit Ginnie Springs since I first heard about it. Now I have many more to visit! A road trip through the area sounds great. I have visited Florida many times, but mostly just the Orlando area. Would love to be able to get out and explore more of the spots like these. I can’t believe there are over 1,000 of these springs in Florida, thanks for the tips on where to start!

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    • August 4, 2020 at 3:52 pm
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      Absolutely, thanks for reading Melissa! It’s so surprising that these aren’t talked about more often.

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  • August 4, 2020 at 3:06 am
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    Wow, there sure are a lot of places to camp within Florida! I love the idea of going hiking with your friends, and then relaxing with a nice picnic together, close to one of these springs. However, the actual act of CAMPING doesn’t really sound up my alley as I already have trouble sleeping, so I’m not sure how I’d go trying to do so outside 😅

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    • August 4, 2020 at 3:51 pm
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      Understandable, Indya! I see glamping in your future 🙂

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  • August 3, 2020 at 10:46 pm
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    Wow! The waters are so clear! And they all look so enchanting with all those trees around! Can’t wait to have this kind of get away soon!

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    • August 4, 2020 at 3:51 pm
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      Right?! How refreshing does a dip in one of these sound after a long hike?

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  • August 3, 2020 at 8:28 pm
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    I would love to camp near a freshwater spring. I didn’t realize there were so many in Florida!

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    • August 4, 2020 at 3:50 pm
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      The most concentrated area of freshwater springs in the world! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Reply
  • August 3, 2020 at 7:45 pm
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    Such a great article.
    The way you explain with every detail and the pictures are just amazing.
    I will surely visit this place.
    Thanks for sharing.

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    • August 4, 2020 at 3:49 pm
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      Thanks for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed the piece—these really are phenomenal springs!

      Reply
  • August 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm
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    I’m suppose to be in Florida in November but due to corona that’s not happening =(
    Can’t wait to go next year hopefully everything goes back to normal.

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    • August 3, 2020 at 7:37 pm
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      Sorry to hear that, it’s definitely a bummer that trips have been canceled this year! Hopefully, things open up next year and you can make the trip.

      Reply
  • August 3, 2020 at 3:57 pm
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    Hmmmm… When thingking about traveling to Florida, for some reason I never thought about camping. I’m definitely going to do more research abut this. Thank you for the recommendation.

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    • August 3, 2020 at 7:36 pm
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      I suggest camping in fall to avoid that humidity! Enjoy Lourdes!

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  • August 3, 2020 at 3:00 pm
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    I am unfortunately with that group who only thinks for beaches (and amusement parks) in Florida. It was interesting to learn that there were so many freshwater springs for camping in the state. We are indeed scuba divers so I need to check out Vortex Spring.

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    • August 3, 2020 at 7:35 pm
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      Florida is great for amusement parks and beaches, but they have plenty of hidden gems, too! Glad you enjoyed Linda 🙂

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  • August 3, 2020 at 1:25 pm
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    Would love to visit Florida one day not just for the theme parks and cruises but also for its natural beauty! Thanks for sharing.

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    • August 3, 2020 at 7:34 pm
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      Some of these springs truly are jawdropping! Thanks for reading, Angeline.

      Reply
  • August 3, 2020 at 12:54 am
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    We have talked for years about going to Florida and exploring the springs. It would be fun to check these out and make a road trip out of it.

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    • August 3, 2020 at 2:43 pm
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      The springs make such lovely road trip stops! Taking a dip is a much better way to stretch your legs than at a gas station if you ask me.

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  • August 2, 2020 at 6:03 pm
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    so beautiful – each and every one.. i will save this for the next time we make a trip there.. and share with friends and family who live in florida

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    • August 3, 2020 at 2:43 pm
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      So glad you enjoyed, Vidya! Definitely the perfect road trip stop.

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  • August 1, 2020 at 6:28 pm
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    Wow! This makes me want to go to Florida! We love going on hikes and what a fun adventure this would be.

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    • August 3, 2020 at 2:44 pm
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      Couldn’t agree more, Norma! Such a great way to end a hike.

      Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 11:09 am
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    I love the infographic; did you create that? This is a great resource for those looking to get outside for some fresh air and relaxation amidst all this pandemic craziness!

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  • July 31, 2020 at 7:57 pm
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    I have no idea that there was so much variety centered around the freshwater springs of Florida. I’ve really been into caving lately – so that would be a really fun adventure to have before, as you said, sitting out under the stars at night!

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    • August 3, 2020 at 2:45 pm
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      So cool! I’ve always wanted to go caving. Sounds like the perfect way to end an adventure to me.

      Reply

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