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Crystal River Preserve State Park

 About Crystal River Preserve State Park

Grassy Marsh with a variety of trees in the background at Crystal River Preserve State Park.


John Lakich

The Crystal River Preserve State Park is truly a unique area on Florida's Gulf Coast. Being situated at a transition between temperate and sub-tropical zones it has plant communities that occur in each. In addition to the climatic zones, it also protects expansive grass flats that extend many miles into the gulf. The estuarine system is fed fresh water from seven rivers in the county and provides for an abundance of sea life. The overall environment of this wonderful area has provided for animal and human residents for thousands of years.

Many new pre-Columbian archaeological sites have recently been added to the Florida Site Files and it is anticipated that the pre-historic and historic inventory will continue to increase. It is important that we gain knowledge based on the impacts of our predecessors on the environment as well as, biological, hydrological, geological, climatic changes that have occurred in the past so that we might better understand our own impacts and the continuing changes in the systems for comprehensive management.

During the next year we will continue a variety of wildlife monitoring in an effort to expand the existing base line inventories and get a better understanding of our effects on the land as a result of management techniques. With all of the natural and cultural resource efforts we hope to maintain and restore the land with in the confines of the preserve; however, without an effective education program we would be unable to encourage stewardship for responsible management of private surrounding lands.

The Friends of the Crystal River State Parks, Inc. have taken over the operation of the park's tour boats with trained park rangers or volunteers providing the interpretation. There is also a popular sunset boat tour the last Friday of each month. Outreach is the most effect natural resource management and cultural resource management tool available and has a way of perpetuating environmental awareness that will last for generations. We are fortunate to have an Americorps outreach person working in the visitor center coordinating volunteers in attending local events.

The expansion of knowledge of the cultural resources on the park has occurred by the inclusion of visiting archaeologists. For many years the preserve has benefited from the Gulf Archaeology Research Institute on site and now we have added the office of the Central Region Florida Public Archaeology Network. These archaeological groups provide us with a diverse array skill and actively participate in research, education, outreach and interpretation.

The five trail heads (four of which are Great Florida Birding Trails) are open daily from 8:00 AM until Sundown. The Park Visitor Center is closed on Weekends.

This is a very exciting place; please come and visit.


The Great Florida Birding Trail Logo Trail of Florida's Indian Heritage Logo


  • Crystal River Preserve is located west of U.S. 19 in Crystal River.
  • Take U.S. Hwy 19 3/4 mile north of the Crystal River Mall. Turn left onto State Park Drive. Follow State Park Drive until it dead ends at the Crystal River.  This brings you to the Preserve Visitor Center and the trailheads of 7-mile Loop and Crystal Cove.
  • Eco-Walk is located at 5990 North Tallahassee Road. Take U.S. Hwy 19 north to just before Seven Rivers Hospital. Turn left onto Curtis Tool Road. The intersection of Curtis Tool and Tallahassee Road is the Eco-walk trail head.
  • Churchhouse Hammock is across from the Crystal River Mall.
  • Dixie Shores is located off Hwy 19 on CR 44/W Fort Island Trail.  After about 2 1/2 miles, take a left at W Dixie Shores Drive.  The trailhead is on your left.
  • Redfish Hole fishing area is located on CR 44/W Fort Island Trail, a few miles past Dixie Shores Trail.  The trailhead for Redfish will be off the road on your left.


  • Volunteer -

    Crystal River Preserve offers a wide variety of opportunities for students and adults. Volunteers perform duties such as trail maintenance, vehicle repair, construction, upkeep, gardening and photography. Student interns participate in land management projects with staff biologists. If you have the gift of gab and like to meet people from all over the world, you would make a great Visitor Center docent. Have a hobby or interest that you'd like to share with the public? We'll try to fit you in a position. Please call (352) 563-0450 for information on volunteering at Crystal River Preserve.

    Interested in volunteering to scare up some fun at our Halloween in the Park event?  Learn more!

  • For forms, information and benefits of volunteering visit Get Involved.
  • Friends of Crystal River
  • 3266 North Sailboat Avenue
    Crystal River, FL 34428