Description - "Wakulla" is an old Indian word for "strange and mysterious waters." A good description for the park's centerpiece. Here, 6,000 acres of wildlife sanctuary are quietly hidden in Spanish moss draped Florida woodlands. The pristine beauty and uniqueness of the park placed it on the National Register of Historic Places and earned the designation as a National Natural Landmark.
Copyright: Patty Elton-Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Take a step back in time at Wakulla Lodge
One of the world's largest and deepest fresh water springs highlights the 2,860-acre Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. The spring bowl covers nearly three acres with water temperatures remaining a constant 70 degrees F year-round. A record peak flow from the spring on April 11, 1973 was measured at 14,325 gallons per second - equal to 1.2 billion gallons per day!
Scientific interest in the spring began in 1850, when Sarah Smith reported seeing the bones of an ancient mastodon on the bottom. Since that time, scientists have identified the remains of at least nine other extinct Ice Age mammals, deposited as far as 1,200 feet back into the cave.
The great depth and clarity of the spring has also made it ideal for deep diving research. Several projects have been undertaken at the spring that has led to significant advances in diving technology and safety.
Professional dive teams have explored the spring cavern to a depth exceeding 300 feet and a distance of 18,000 feet or more than three miles. They found the cavern branches into four major conduits and then into numerous secondary conduits. The source of the spring still remains a mystery.
With its extraordinary springs, beautiful old-growth floodplain forests, and abundant wildlife, filmmakers have used the site to film three of Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan movies and the original "Creator of the Black Lagoon."
- There are a variety of ways to enjoy Wakulla Springs State Park. Several varieties of tour boats, of which there are many, offer guided trips along Wakulla River where you'll see literally hundreds of alligators and wading birds. The three-mile tour is a 45-minute cruise where binoculars and cameras are a necessity. The tour is very economical for families. Adults are $4.50 and children 3 - 12 years are $2.25. Children under 3 years are free.
Three trails explore different aspects of the Wakulla Springs forest ecosystem. Combined, the paths take you through upland pine forests, cypress wetlands, and hardwood hammocks. On the north side of the park, a scenic multi-use trail follows service roads throughout thirteen hundred acres north of the Wakulla River. It is available to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. Much of the park's understory is lush with spring-blooming dogwood, redbud and holly.
Wakulla Springs State Park is the only park within the Florida State Parks System that operates a lodge. The lodge typifies Florida life of the 1930s. Filled with wrought iron, marble, and handmade ceramic imported tile, it is truly a reflection of the past. Twenty-seven guest rooms, furnished with period furniture are available year-round.
The park's amenities are all within walking distance from each other. Adjacent to the lodge is a pavilion and concession area which rest above the waterfront ticket office, observation dock, tour boats, and the designated swimming area. An observation and a multi-level diving platform at the springhead allows a splendid view of the spring.
For safety reasons, recreational diving is not permitted. Extensive mapping and research has been conducted on the underground cave system in an effort to protect our water resources.
Recreation - Visitors to Wakulla Springs State Park are in for a real treat. The park offers one of Florida's finest wildlife viewing areas featuring glassbottom boat tours. The park has several nature trails, a multi-use trail for hikers and bikers, picnicking, a small swimming beach, and a lovely historic lodge. Perhaps one of the most popular attractions is the park's centerpiece where snorkelers plunge into crystal clear 70 degree F spring waters. Special events take place all year including a birding festival, twilight cruises, and New Year's Eve galas.
Climate - Florida experiences mild, comfortable winters and warm to hot, humid summers. The area offers a great warm escape for outdoor recreation during the cold northern months. Summer temperatures average in the low 80's Fahrenheit and mid 20's Celsius. Winters are mild with temperatures averaging between the high 40's to the high 50's Fahrenheit. The average precipitation for the north central area is diverse. The central western area receives more than 60 inches per year while the central eastern tract receives about 50 inches. August and September are peak months of the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through November 30.
Wakulla Springs State Park & Lodge is located 14 miles south of Tallahassee on State Route 267 at State Route 61.