You may have read our tubing article which discusses the Ichetucknee River. But there is so much more to do than just tube. You can paddle, swim, hike trails, and even scuba dive! So let’s take a look at the full day of fun Ichetucknee Springs has to offer.
Looking for more information on TUBING at the Springs, Click HERE to read our Summertime Tubing | Best Places to Tube at the Florida Springs article
If you want to start off with tubing or paddling, you will need to head to the SOUTH ENTRANCE of Ichetucknee Springs State Park.
It costs $6.00 for vehicles containing 2-8 people, $4.00 for single occupancy vehicles, and $2.00 for people on bikes or motorcycles. This pricing is the same at the north entrance. But let’s take it back further because it is suggested to better guarantee a tube or watercraft, to make a reservation ahead of time. You can go to https://ichetuckneesprings.com/ to make your reservation. For watercrafts, they do limit to 100 a day, so the earlier you book and arrive the better. There isn’t a limit for tubes. Following your reservation, you will be sent a link to fill out a waiver prior to arrival.
Paddling the Ichetucknee River
For paddling, you can do the Paddle Ichetucknee, which is about a 3.5-mile paddle from where they drop you off at the north part of the park and you can paddle to the last takeout. It is $25.00 just for the shuttle if you bring your own watercraft. The ticket for your rental kayak/paddleboard or shuttle includes the tram ride back to South Parking Lot from the last takeout. For paddlers who BYOB (bring your own board), the caveat is you must deflate your board or kayak to put it on the tram. There are restrooms located here if you need them before hopping on the tram.
The Extended Paddle starts at the north part of the park and finishes up about 9 miles later at William Guy Lemmon Park. This is a seasonal offering, between May 27 and September 4, and is for canoes and kayaks only. Paddlers must be off the river by 4 pm. Your transportation back to the South Parking Lot is included in your ticket price.
The Dampier’s Landing Paddle has you starting right behind the General Store. You can paddle upstream all the way to the north drop-in point and float back down, riding the current to the last takeout. The north drop-in point is 2.75 miles from Dampier’s Landing.
If you want to tube, you can learn the extensive details on our tubing article. But here is a general recap. There are two launch points, Midpoint and Dampier’s Landing. If you bring a tube, it cannot exceed 60 inches and it cannot be filled with glitter. If your tube needs some air before hitting the water, they can puff it up for $1.25. Tube rentals for the day start at $7.50 and increase with larger tubes with extra accouterments. From Midpoint, which is north of Dampier's Landing, to the last take-out can take about 2 hours to float. Make sure you purchase a wristband for the tram to ride back to the South Parking Lot.
Inside Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Whether you are paddling or tubing, you will check in at the Ichetucknee General Store. To the right you will find restrooms, and on the left is a concession stand. Keeping going to the left side of the parking lot following the brown signs if you are hopping on the shuttle for the Paddle Ichetucknee tour. There are picnic tables sprinkled throughout the parking lot, shaded by trees, for enjoying an after-river snack.
The ticket that got you into the park at the south end will be used for your park entrance at the north end. The NORTH END of the park is the main swimming area with both Head Spring and Blue Hole located here. There is a capacity, but the park rangers keep an eye on it. They may have to close for a bit, but as soon as enough cars leave they will open it back up.
After you get parked at the north end, you will head to the left side of the parking lot. Right off the parking lot is the picnic area and the Riverside Grill. If you keep going straight, you will eventually see the Head Spring swim area on your left. There are stone stairs you can walk down or stroll the boardwalk ramp. The Head Spring, a second-magnitude spring, pumps out 62 million gallons of water a day into the Ichetucknee River. This is a fun area to snorkel and swim. If you don’t have snorkel gear, the Riverside Store does have some to purchase.
Blue Hole Spring | Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Back by the first picnic table, you will see a sign with a framed wooden entrance to the trail to Blue Hole, the second swimming area. The Blue Hole Trail is just shy of half a mile. Most of the trail is a dirt trail and shaded by numerous trees. No dogs are allowed on this trail. Once there, you can follow the steps down to the water. This swimming area is slightly smaller than Head Spring. Blue Hole is a first-magnitude spring that pumps out about 65 million gallons of water a day. It is also part of a 600-foot cave system. You can scuba dive here, but you must be Cavern Diver certified to do so. It is suggested to bring a cart of some sort to help transport dive gear. Before leaving the park, there is a rinse station right by where you enter from the parking lot, for your feet, snorkel, or dive gear.
Fun fact, when speaking with state park rangers, Jason and Sam, they mentioned Ichetucknee does have manatee visitors. In fact, there is a manatee pod that visits the spring year-round. The manatees are able to know when spring waters are high enough in order to come in. As discussed in other articles, always practice passive observation with manatees.
There are two trails you can explore with your furry friend: Trestle Point Trail and Pine Ridge Trail. Trestle Point is a little less than a mile, and Pine Ridge is 1.25 miles.
Some other fun discoveries I learned from rangers Jason and Sam, is in the fall they have the Time Machine Tour. Located on the site are a Spanish settlement, an old gristmill, and a chapel. There is so much history at this state park, keep your eye out and book this tour come fall to learn more about the history of Ichetucknee (which means “Pond of the Beaver”), the Timucuan tribe, and the Spanish settlers.
Looking for a place to STAY close to the Ichetucknee Springs State Park, check out SWEETBAY RIVER CAMP for more information, click HERE
Animals To See
Great Blue Heron | Great Egret | White Ibis | Roseate Spoonbill | Red Headed Woodpecker | Red Shoulder Hawk | Eastern Screech Owl | Northern Cardinal | Northern Mockingbird | Osprey | Ducks | Striped Mullet | Florida Gar | Manatees | Turtles | River Otter | Alligator (I only saw one on the river) | Water Snakes | Frogs
What To Bring
Ichetucknee Springs has so many ways for you to get to know and experience Real Florida.