Enjoying Florida Springs
Clear, cool, and Inviting
The Florida springs are one of this state's great delights.
If you love the water, few earthly pleasures exceed that of jumping into a clear, deep blue Florida spring--especially on a hot summer's day.
But if you REALLY want to enjoy the springs, try putting on a face mask and looking around underneath the water's surface.
The Salt Springs Recreation Area pictured below is a particularly good place to do that--especially if you want to see lots of fish.
Be sure to see my minute-and-a-half underwater video on Salt Springs.
Juniper Springs is a good place to spend a dayor a few days. Snorkel, or just swim in the spring, follow nature trails, picnic, or set out on a seven-mile wilderness float trip. You can do all that right here.
Also, check out Silver Glen Springs if you're a water rat,and like snorkeling. On the photo below, check out the spectacular underwater visibility...every diver's dream.
Spectacular Visibility at Silver Glen Springs
Okay, here's where I need to issue a fair warning. If you have the gene which allows you to get hooked on diving (surely, there must be one), watch out. The next thing you know, you'll be plunking down good money for SCUBA classes and gear, or at least for a mask, snorkel, and fins.
The cool water's ultra-clear visibility coupled with lots of warm Florida weather is a double-whammy draw that keeps people coming back to the springs.
How Many Springs Does Florida Have?
Folks who should know say Florida has over 600 springs.
Some of the best known, such as Silver Springs, Manatee Springs,and Weeki Wachee springs are all first magnitude springs, that is, their flow rate exceeds 65 million gallons per day.
Depending on how you figure it--and apparently there are several ways to do it--there are 27 first magnitude springs in Florida. These springs are among Florida's greatest treasures.
How Did Florida's Springs Form?
Over a period of about 40 million years as sea levels intermittently rose and fell, the calcified remains of sea creatures built up along a geologic formation called the Florida Plateau, eventually forming Florida's huge slab of limestone bedrock.
This bedrock, comprised mostly of calcium carbonate, is dissolved easily by the acidic nature of rainwater combined with carbon dioxide. As this acidic water seeps into the ground, it slowly eats away at the bedrock, forming porous holes in it similar to the holes found in swiss cheese.
Gradually the holes become larger and larger, until the structure of the porous bedrock gives way in places, forming large underground channels filled with flowing water. This water-laden labyrinth of swiss-cheese holes and larger channels is called the aquifer, which by the way is where over halfof Floridians get their drinking water.
Here and there, this underground flow breaks out of its subterranean chambers and spills out onto the earth's surface. That's a spring. What we see so often from up top is the clear cool water escaping from underground as it is pushed up by pressure from water constantly seeping in from the surface.
Enjoying Florida Springs
With water clarity sometimes exceeeding 300 feet, it's no wonder people like to SCUBA dive in the springs. And since the water temperature of a Florida spring remains constant year round near 70 degrees, springs diving goes on all year long.
Speaking of water clarity, I remember a night SCUBA dive a few years back in Troy Springs on the Suwannee River. My buddy and I descended the 70 feet to the bottom of the spring, turned off our lights, looked up, and throughthe crystal-clear water actually saw the stars! It was amazing and surreal. My most recent trip there was evenmore amazing.
Other than SCUBA, Florida's springs are also great for snorkeling. As with SCUBA diving, the super clear waters are a joy to experience.
The snorkelers in the photo below are enjoying a day at Ginnie Springs near High Springs, Florida--one of my favorite places. You might like it too.
The Springs are Great for Snorkeling
Since many of Florida's springs are located in state parks, with a few in federally controlled areas, camping, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, picnicing, and other outdoor recreational opportunities may also be available.
Pictured below is the Juniper Creek spring run at Juniper Springs.
Kayaking Juniper Creek Spring Run
Another spring--a first-magnitude spring--in the Ocala National Forest is Alexander Springs. Besides snorkeling, SCUBA diving,and swimming, camping, hiking, and mountain biking are also available here.
Alexander Springs Entrance
Another of Florida's well known springs is Ichetucknee Springs. Long a favorite around the Gainesville area, the clear waters of the Ichetucknee may be in peril.
Have A Great Story About This Topic?
Got a favorite Florida spring? Or maybe not a "favorite," but one you really enjoy just the same. Maybe you like camping there, swimming there, or just visiting there. Please feel free to tell us about it here.
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