One of the most popular parks for canoeing, kayaking or Stand Up Paddleboarding in Central Florida is Blue Spring State Park. With easy access to the St. John's River as well as other creeks and lakes, it is a great location for any paddling enthusiast.
What Makes It Great
Blue Spring State Park is located in Orange City, Florida about 50 miles north of Orlando. Blue Spring is the largest spring on the St. Johns River. The spring is the habitat for over 15 threatened or endangered plants and animals. While paddling along the St. Johns River and the neighboring lakes you will have the opportunity to see animals such as gar, sunfish, turtles, alligators, and even manatees.
Blue Spring is a Designated Manatee Refuge. During the manatee season, the area is home to a large population of West Indian Manatees. While the spring itself is closed during manatee season (mid-November through March 15), you may see manatees along the river at other times of the year. If you come across them remember to leave them alone and just take pictures.
Once you've launched your boat, you can exit Blue Springs Run and begin heading down the St. Johns River. While heading south from the spring you will pass a small opening that will lead to an enticing body of water called “The Lagoon.” In addition to The Lagoon, you will have the option of paddling down Snake Creek or you can keep going north towards Lake Beresford.
Before heading over to Blue Spring State Park make sure you check the forecast. Water levels and wind on the water can be affected by storms as they make their way in. And you don't want to swim or paddle here if it's raining.
Who is Going to Love It
Blue Spring State Park is a fun location for paddlers of any skill level. Keep in mind that the St. Johns River is one of the larger rivers in the area and can have a strong current. If you have beginners in your group, remember to plan your route so you will not have a problem making your way back. Also, keep in mind that the St. Johns River is open to motorboat traffic.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Blue Spring State Park is a very popular area. If you are planning on visiting on the weekend make sure to arrive as soon as possible. The park opens at 8am and may have a line before it opens. If you arrive too late the park may shut down and not let any more people in. Once you arrive at the park you will need to pay your entrance fee at the Ranger station. If you have your own canoe or kayak you can then continue down the main road and take a right. The road will continue and then dead-end at the parking area. From there, you can carry your boat to the canoe launch area. Near the parking lot you will find restrooms, picnic tables and a playground. A short walk from the canoe launch is the spring area with a concession stand.
If you do not have your own equipment, canoes and kayaks can be rented at St. Johns River Cruises located along the St. Johns River. In order to make a reservation call them at (407) 330-1612. They also offer guided kayak tours along the river.