Manager's Message

Manager's Message Hontoon Island State Park

Rene Acuna, Park Manager

I would like to welcome you to Hontoon Island State Park. This 1,650-acre park is definitely a natural jewel located on the west side of DeLand, Florida.

Hontoon Island is a true island that is surrounded by water on all sides. We have the mighty St. Johns River on the north and east side of the island, the Dead River (named because of its mild current) to the west and Snake Creek to the south. Snake Creek was named because of the way it winds its way from the St. Johns River to the Dead River.

Since the waterways surround the island, Hontoon Island provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy the water either on a kayak or canoe. This is one of my favorite recreational activities. Every time I launch my boat and start to paddle along the shoreline, I never know what kind of amazing wildlife I am going to encounter.

I have seen rafters of turkey feeding by the shoreline and an occasional Florida alligator lazily sunbathing on a stump. Deer like to wade in the water and feed on aquatic vegetation, and otters can sometimes be spotted having the time of their life as they play like kids in a swimming pool. There are multiple species of birds that can be spotted along the shoreline such as, one of my favorites, the limpkin. This wading bird has a loud cry and can often be seen working the shoreline in search of their favorite meal, apple snails. The wildlife is incredible, and every day is different, so pack a lunch, bring plenty of water, and see what amazing beautiful creatures are just around the bend waiting to be captured on your cellphone or camera.

If the water activities aren’t enough, hiking and biking on Hontoon offer an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and get a little exercise. Riding my mountain bike to the Bear Tree Landing is always a treat. This 1.5-mile ride takes you to one of the oldest oak trees on the island. This majestic tree offers a nice calming atmosphere where you can take a little break on one of our benches. It has been estimated that this tree is over 300 years old, and it offers a peaceful place to enjoy the quiet of the island.

I also enjoy hiking our nature trail that leads to the Indian shell mound. This 3-mile round-trip hike takes you through the hardwood hammock up to the shell midden. I am always amazed when I think about how long it took to create this mound made of shells and bone fragments and how different life was for the Native Americans who inhabited this island thousands of years ago.

The things that I have briefly described are just a few of the recreational activities that can be enjoyed on Hontoon Island. We offer a campground with six rustic cabins and 12 tent campsites that allow you more time to enjoy this beautiful piece of The Real Florida. Our ferry offers a unique ride across the river from our parking lot, and don’t forget to get a picture standing next to our owl totem, which is a replica of the original that was found by Hontoon Island and made over 600 years ago by the Timucua tribe, one of the early inhabitants of this area.

We hope to see you here at Hontoon Island State Park! Please stop by our ranger station, where we will be more than happy to share any information that will make your visit one to always remember.

Seeing is appreciating when you see this Jewel of the St. Johns River.