Non-native ornamentals such as azaleas and various palm species were planted between the 1930s and 1960s near the trails and in the parking lot of DeLeon Springs State Park. The azaleas bloom throughout the park in early spring. A paved walkway leads to 'Old Methuselah,' a huge bald cypress that is more than 500 years old. Visitors may notice an abundance of white or gray snail shells in the ground-evidence of centuries of occupation by Native American groups who came to the spring to gather food. They would cook the snails and discard piles of shells. Two dugout canoes found in the spring are among the oldest canoes in America (5,000 and 6,000 years old).
The park was the Ponce De Leon Springs attraction from 1953 to the mid-1960s. Visitors could take a Jungle Cruise and see Sunshine Sally, the water-skiing elephant.
This photo was taken in June 1982, about two weeks after the park opened. Slides, diving boards and a high dive platform were still in use from the previous owner, who had operated De Leon Springs as a private park.
The Jungle Cruise was an exciting way to see the interior of the park. It traveled on a canal past Old Methuselah, an ancient cypress tree, and Monkey Island where several monkeys were kept.
The Ponce De Leon Springs Hotel featured a casino in its early years. Fourteen rooms overlooked the spring and the dining room served steak, lobster and mountain trout.