Written by Sheri McLeroy and Scott DeBerry
Click on the photos below for a larger view.
Ichetucknee Springs has been a magnet for people and wildlife for more than 10,000 years. Native Timucuans populated the area before the arrival of Europeans. In 1608, Spaniards built the San Martin de Timucua Mission at the springs, which was later destroyed by a Timucuan uprising. In more recent times, phosphate mining operations and a town complete with post office and gristmill occupied the banks of the Ichetucknee River and springs.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is perhaps the most famous spot for tubing in Florida. The Ichetucknee River flows six miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands before it joins the Santa Fe River. In 1972, the head spring of the river was declared a National Natural Landmark by the US Department of the Interior.
From the end of May until early September, tubing down the river is the choice activity in the area. In addition to tubing, visitors can enjoy picnicking, snorkeling, canoeing, swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
Tubes plus snorkeling and diving equipment can be rented from private vendors outside the park, which is located four miles northwest of Fort White off State Roads 47 and 238. Riders can choose how long they stay on the water depending on where they enter/exit the river.
Tips from Sheri:
Remember it will take some time to actually get on the river. If you want to start at the north entrance you can drop of your crew and tubes there, then drive down to the south entrance and then ride the park transport back to meet your party. The travel time will add about 30 minutes to when you actually get into the water. You can also catch a tram back north from the exit at the south end of the run.
As far as food and snacks, you can purchase typical refreshment stand fare for $3.75 to $5 for most items. You may want to consider having food and drinks in a cooler waiting on you at the south entrance with your vehicle.
You will want to be sure to wear sunscreen. Although there are nice, shady stretches, you can easily get sunburned if you don’t use sunscreen.
Tube vendors are near entrances to the state park. Tubes and floats range from $5 to $12 depending on what size/type you want. If you are just floating down the river, entry to the park is $5 per person. If you are just visiting the park, entry is $6 for a carload of up to eight people.
That’s all the adventure details for now. Enjoy a day of nature, water, and fun floating down the river and remember to post a few photos of your trip to share with others on Your Gallery.