Manager's Message

Michael Watkins, Park Manager

Michael Watkins, Park Manager

Have you ever seen a West Indian manatee? Did you know that manatees can grow up to 9 feet and weigh over 1,000 pounds? Now imagine seeing several hundred bunched up together all in one place.

My first winter morning at the park, I went to start our daily manatee count, and as I stood at the edge of the boardwalk, I could not believe my eyes. There were hundreds of manatees. It seemed you could walk across the spring never touching the water. It sounded like a symphony of manatees when they surfaced every few seconds exhaling powerful bursts of air.

During manatee season (November through March), Blue Spring State Park is the winter haven as manatees seek warmer 72-degree spring water. The park’s record count is 566 manatees, I like to brag that this is the unofficial world record. Don’t get me wrong - manatees are cute and adorable creatures, but my favorite and what really ruffles my feathers is our growing population of the endangered Florida scrub-jay. This handsome gray-and-blue bird is found only in Florida sand pine scrub. A morning hike through our park is the best time to spot a scrub-jay.

At Blue Spring, you can experience two completely different seasons.

Summertime is great for recreational water activities such as snorkeling and tubing in the clear spring water.

Winter is perfect for observing manatees and other wildlife from our beautiful scenic overlooks and enjoying park programs or boat tours on the St. Johns River. I always recommend for folks to come early, not only to beat the crowds but so you can do more while you are here. We might seem like a small park, but we have a large choice of activities I think you will enjoy.

I know we have a lot to do here and I am sure you will find the right adventure that will appeal to you and help you connect with yourself and your surroundings. There is swimming, tubing, snorkeling and scuba diving, or biking, hiking and so much more when you visit the... Real Florida at Blue Spring State Park!