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Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park

<p>Welcome to the newest state park in Florida! Gilchrist Springs is the jewel of Gilchrist County, a hugely popular vacation spot because of its Spring Run and the High Spring. It&rsquo;s proof of the natural beauty of Florida, the Sunshine State&rsquo;s best kept open secret.</p> <p>Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is a heavenly escape from everyday life and hurried vacations. It&rsquo;s open from 8 AM until sunset every day of the year, and while entry is free, you can expect to pay around $5 for parking. If you can, it&rsquo;s best to visit during the week or outside of the school holidays, as you&rsquo;ll be turned away if the parking lot is full.</p> <p>Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park produces 44 million gallons of water every day and is famous for the quality of its crystal clear water. Filtering into the nearby Santa Fe River, the site itself is home to several other springs too, including Johnson Spring, Kiefer Spring, Naked Spring and the Little Blue Spring.</p> <p>One of the most exciting things about Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is that it has a total of 25 different campsites for visitors to enjoy, making it a great place to go with RVs or to camp out with your family. To avoid disappointment, book your spot in the campsites ahead of time to make sure that they have availability.</p> <p><strong>Hours:</strong> 8 AM until sunset, 365-days-a-year</p> <p><strong>Park amenities: </strong>Natural springs, pavilions, concession stand, campsites, geo-seeking, hiking trails, swimming spots, wildlife viewing, nature trail, picnic pavilions, restrooms.</p> <p><strong>Fees: </strong>$4-6 parking fee per vehicle</p> <p><strong>Location</strong>: Located about five miles west of High Spring on the banks of the Santa Fe River. It&rsquo;s 20 miles northwest of Gainesville and 25 miles south of Lake City.</p> <p><strong>Camping and cabins</strong>: The park has both camping facilities and stunning cabins that can be booked from one day to eleven months in advance. Find out more information<a href="https://www.floridastateparks.org/stay-night" target="_blank"> in their camping and cabins guide</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
7450 Northeast 60th Street,
High Springs, FL, 320643,
386-454-1369
<h2>Highlights:&nbsp;</h2> <ul> <li> <p><strong>The Diving Platform:&nbsp;</strong>The perfect spot to dive into the springs&rsquo; stunning waters.&nbsp;</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>The Boardwalk</strong>:&nbsp;A walkway that leads to the Spring Run. Before Gilchrist County was hit by Hurricane Irma, the boardwalk led all of the way to the Santa Fe River.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>The Little Blue Spring</strong>:&nbsp;Another of the park&rsquo;s picturesque springs in a secluded spot and surrounded by cypress trees. Note that swimming isn&rsquo;t permitted in the Little Blue Spring.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>The Naked Spring</strong>:&nbsp;Don&rsquo;t get confused here because nudity isn&rsquo;t permitted. The Naked Spring takes its name instead of its undisturbed pure natural beauty.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>The Johnson Spring: </strong>This large natural spring includes a stunning spring run that&rsquo;s one of the highlights of the area.&nbsp;</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Activities in Gilchrist Springs:</h2> <p>Arguably the main highlight of Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is the stunning natural springs with their clear blue waters. These waters make it a popular spot for water sports, from swimming and snorkelling to scuba diving, kayaking, canoeing and underwater photography. You can even go fishing on the Santa Fe River.</p> <p>Speaking of photography, Gilchrist Springs is also popular amongst photographers, whether they&rsquo;re capturing the stunning landscapes or whether they&rsquo;re admiring the flora and fauna. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it&rsquo;s a popular haunt for birdwatchers and other wildlife lovers, too.&nbsp; You can expect to see everything from redbreasts and sunfish to bass, bluegill and catfish, turtles, hawks, ibises, ospreys, and herons.</p> <p>Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is also a great spot for hiking, thanks to its dedicated trails, or if you want to be a little more sedate then take a picnic along with you and eat it in the pavilions. No food? No problem! The park also offers a concession stand with plenty of food and drinks available at affordable prices.&nbsp;</p> <p>All of this combines to make Gilchrist Springs an unmissable part of Florida, no matter how big your party is or whether you&rsquo;re a bunch of young men on a bachelor party, an old married couple spending your twilight years together or a family with little children. And unlike some other national parks, where if you forget to take something with you you&rsquo;ll be out of luck, the concession stands and other amenities mean that you&rsquo;ll be sure to find whatever it is that you&rsquo;re missing.</p> <h2>Gilchrist Springs Park Key Information</h2> <h3>Location, Fees & Spring info:&nbsp;</h3> <p>Note that as Gilchrist Springs is the newest state park in Florida, it&rsquo;s very much still a work in progress. With that said, it already has plenty of amenities and plans to carry out improvements to the entrance road, the campsites and the bath house, amongst other areas.&nbsp;</p> <p>Planning on camping? We don&rsquo;t blame you, it&rsquo;s a great way to experience the High Spring and the pleasant climate of Florida means that even when you&rsquo;re camping, you&rsquo;re virtually guaranteed great weather and you&rsquo;ll be able to camp in public. The numbered sites are better suited to RVs and seasoned campers, while the lettered sites are sheltered and better for newbies or those camping with young children.</p> <h3>Best time to visit:&nbsp;</h3> <p>There&rsquo;s no single best time to visit because the park is generally stunning throughout the year. However, it does tend to get busier during the summer because Florida is known as a summer destination. Weekends also tend to be busy, especially with families.</p> <p>Bear in mind that if you do visit during a busy period, Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park operates a first come, first serve system. This means that if the parking lot is full, you may be turned away. If you can, it&rsquo;s probably a good idea to visit outside the school holidays.</p> <h3>Known for:&nbsp;</h3> <p>Gilchrist Springs is known for being one of the top spots in Florida for getting in touch with nature through camping, hiking and wildlife viewing. It&rsquo;s also iconic because of the undisturbed blue waters of the Blue Spring that lends the area its name. Ultimately, it&rsquo;s one of the most beautiful spots in all of the Sunshine State &ndash; and that&rsquo;s saying something!</p> <p><strong>Note: </strong>Pets are allowed at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, as long as they&rsquo;re kept on their leashes. They&rsquo;re not permitted in the swimming areas or the springs. Don&rsquo;t have your own equipment? Not to worry! Head over to the concession stand and ask about equipment hire. For a deposit and a small fee, you can pick up everything from canoes to kayaks and paddleboards.</p>