Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ichetucknee Springs State Park - Fort White, Florida

Head Spring at Ichetucknee Springs State Park
While most people head to the mountains in search of fall color, Florida offers a chance to see fall and winter color of a different kind!
Take Ichetucknee Springs State Park, for example. Located at Fort White the park is only 20 minutes from I-75 at Lake City. The blue color of its water on sunny fall days is absolutely remarkable.

Ichetucknee Springs (the name is said to be an Indian word meaning something like "place of the otters") is actually a group of seven large springs that are among the most remarkable in the world. They pour out an astounding 85 billion gallons of crystal clear water each year, straight up from the Floridan Aquifer.

Interpretive Panel at Ichetucknee Springs
Fall and winter is actually a great time to visit the park because the swarms of people that flood there to swim, tube and canoe during the summer tend to vanish after Labor Day.  When I stopped by Ichetucknee in late October, I saw only two other people the entire time I was there.  If you like peace and quiet and scenic beauty, now is the time to go.

The springs are also rich in history. Hernando de Soto passed through the area in 1539, taking a Timucuan Indian chief and his daughter hostage and forcing many of their followers into slavery.

Clear Blue Water at Ichetucknee Springs
In 1608 the Mission San Martin de Timucua was established at Fig or Mission Springs in the park. Consisting of a church, convento (friar's home), plaza and cemetery, it was associated with a large village of Timucuans.  The Franciscan friars worked at Mission San Martin until 1656, converting many of the villagers to Christianity, before the mission was destroyed in an uprising by its inhabitants.

In later years Florida's famed Bellamy or Pensacola to St. Augustine Road passed by the springs and they were a popular stopping point for visitors making their way through the wilderness of Territorial Florida.

To learn more about the history and natural beauty of Ichetucknee Springs, please visit

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