Explore a cavern, take a hike along a bluff or paddle up the Chipola River at this incredible Florida State Park
Boasting more than 1,300 acres, the Florida Caverns State Park has a much to offer visitors interested in the exploring the outdoors.
The caverns are the biggest draw to the park, with 32 caves nestled within the park; the largest open to the public for exploration.
The main cavern contains several rooms with dazzling formations of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and other fascinating features including a towering formation called the “wedding cake.” Some other formations are shaped like ribbons and drapes, gently rippling down from the walls of the cavern. With a constant 65 degrees and 100 percent humidity, the cavern is an eerily stunning experience, and not to be missed.
Cavern tours are given every hour from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm CST Thursday through Monday, but not on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Florida Caverns State Park has a rich and long history as its beginnings date back to the early 1930s. The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) developed the cave – removing stones, widened passages and also working on the visitor’s center that was completed in 1942. Back then, the Corps workers made $1.00/day for their labors during the Depression.
Multi-use trails are available for horseback riding, bicycling, and hiking. Tour several miles of trails while viewing the floodplains and sinkholes. A unique river sink is located here, where the Chipola River sinks 90 feet below the surface and finally reappears one-half-mile downstream. The limestone bluffs are among the oldest surface formations found in Florida. As the Chipola meanders across the river valley, it actively deposits mud and silt, constantly changing the characteristics of the floodplain.
The park has 38 RV campsites, and 100 primitive sites catering to youth camps. Stables are available for equestrian lovers who can camp with their horses around Blue Hole Springs, a popular swimming area within the park.
The park also has a youth/group camping area. This primitive camping area is divided into two areas with restroom and cold shower facilities. The park can set up service projects for youth organizations; such as litter clean up, planting native species, or construction projects.
A wide variety of flora may be observed throughout the park. Boasting more than 25 different fern species alone, the park is abundant with a variety of mosses, wildflowers and grasses that line the pathways of the walking trails with giant oaks, elms and magnolia trees towering above.
The park is home to herons, egrets, alligators, beavers, and snakes that often seen foraging in the wetlands. The park is also home to the endangered albino crayfish and protected gray bats.
There are canoes available for rent offering paddling up the Chipola River to Baltzell Springs. The springs are a popular dive and swimming spot.
A boat ramp is located between the park entrance station and the family camping area. Only small boats are recommended to launch from this area due to water levels and possible underwater hazards along the Chipola River. Traveling south on the river is not permitted.
Canoe rentals are available at the park entrance station and can be rented for ½ day and full day trips. Fees are $15.00 plus tax ½ day (up to 4 hours) and $20.00 plus tax full day.
Fishing is available at the boat ramp located on Blue Hole Drive. A variety of fish such as bass, catfish, sunfish, and mullet can be caught from this area.
Six picnic areas are located throughout the park. Tables and grills are available on a first come first serve basis. There are 5 pavilions that may be reserved in advance for a special event.
Contact the park at 850-482-1341 for group reservations. Call 850-482-9599 for general tour information. Tour fees are 0-2 years of age-free, 3-12 $5.00 plus tax each, 13 and up $8.00 plus tax each. Groups of 25 or more with prepaid reservations are $4.00 plus tax per person. The tour last for about 45 minutes and takes you along a path about 1600 feet long where you can view a number of beautiful formations as they are explained by your tour guide.
To make reservations please call the Florida State Parks Toll Free Reservation Line at 1-800-326-3521. The horse stables may be reserved when camping. To reserve stable space, please call the park with your campsite reservation # after you have made your camping reservations with the Florida State Park’s toll free reservation line. Please be sure to bring a current Coggin’s test for each horse. Equestrian entrance fees at the park are $6.00 plus tax per horse. Family, per tow vehicle and trailer, four horse maximum $14.00. At this time the park does not rent horses. Horses are restricted to trails.
The park is located three miles north of Marianna on State Road 166, at 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, FL 32446. Tel: (850) 482-1228. ::MAP::
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