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Ichetucknee State Park


Ichetucknee State Park is one of the most beautiful state parks I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing!  Located about 45 minutes north of Gainesville in North Florida.  If you go at the right time, you will experience a quiet, serene, and beautiful state park with much wildlife and scenery to enjoy!  The crystal clear water stays a cool, crisp 72 degrees year around.

We went on a Friday and Saturday at the beginning of June and it was the perfect getaway!  Be prepared to see fish, turtles, and birds galore!  You may even see a river otter-like we did!  If you come in the winter time, you may see manatees, too!

A stunning view up river just prior to launching our tubes!


Our Friday Adventure


We arrived in the early afternoon on a Friday in the early part of June at the south entrance.  We expected the park to be at its limit and not able to get in.  To our surprise, they were only about half full and gladly let us in.

We inquired at the General Store as to how everything worked.  We opted for the 1.5-hour tubing ride since it was already later in the day.  Tube rentals start at $5.00 per tube.  I highly recommend the kayak lounger with the paddle as there are plenty of sticks, logs, and grasses to navigate through on your journey.  You also want to make sure to book your transportation or you will be looking at an approximately 1.5-mile long walk back to the south entrance after exiting from tubing.  We chose the tram wristband option, transportation starts at $5.50 per person.  Check out your transportation options here.

if you are going during a peak time, I recommend you reserve early from Cape Leisure.  Cape Leisure is the camp manager for the park grounds so if you reserve on their website ahead of time, you are guaranteed entrance into the park even if they are at their limit.  It’s a great way to ensure you have your spot secured!

Walking down to the tube launch.

You can leave your car keys at the General Store for a small fee of $3.00 and it’s definitely worth not losing them in the river.  Make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and bug spray prior to heading out!

We grabbed our tubes, our additional supplies, and headed out to the tram pick-up station.  I highly recommend bringing the following supplies with you on your tubing adventure:

The tram service picked us up in approximately 10 minutes from the pick-up location behind the General Store and took us to the midpoint launch for our tubing adventure.  It was so quiet that we were the only people on the tram!

Getting ready to launch!

Once we arrived at the midpoint launch, the tram driver directed us down a dirt nature trail to a wooden staircase approximately 1/2 mile down to the river.  There, we encountered a small family enjoying swimming and a nice launching platform with a ladder leading into the river.

The water was crystal clear and a bit chilly to the touch!  We promptly jumped in and got our feel for the brisk 72-degree water.  It was refreshing!  If you’re not a strong swimmer, be aware; the water was 6+ feet deep here and the current was a bit strong and will start to pull you downstream quickly.  You can rent a life vest for $5.00 with your tube rental if needed or if you have children in your party.  I highly recommend you jump in prior to just getting in your tube and riding away.

The family we encountered was getting ready to launch their tubes and we kindly helped them launch as we took in nature and the beautiful scenery.  Soon after, we set our tubes in the water and took off on our tubing adventure, also!

We opted for regular tubes and about 3/4 of the way through, I hit a stick in a group of grass trying to turn a corner in the river.  Shortly after, I heard a hissing sound.  Yep, you guessed it, I had popped my tube!  Yikes!

Can I say I was a bit scared?  I definitely was!

I immediately jumped into my partner, Brandon’s tube and we continued on our journey  I highly recommend that you opt in for the Kayak Lounge tube with the paddle.  There are many sticks, logs, and grasses throughout the river to maneuver through and the paddle makes it much easier.  It’s definitely worth it!

We arrived at the end launch and ended our tubing adventure shortly after I popped my tube.  There is a swimming rope and buoy that directs you to the end launching pad so pay attention as you could miss it if you’re not aware.  Be careful as you exit your tube as there are several rocks laid throughout the exit area.  There, you will find a nice landing platform staircase that will take you up to the tram pick-up area and bathroom facilities.


Our Saturday Adventure


We opted for paddleboarding on Saturday.  We knew the river was destined to be busier and thought it would be a better option for us.  We absolutely loved paddleboarding!  You were able to see so much more from up above and it was truly beautiful!

This day we chose the 3.5-mile paddleboard tour; however, because you move much faster than the tubers it really only takes you about 1.5 – 2 hours to finish it.  We launched at the north entrance at about 9:00 a.m.

You enter the park at the north entrance and make your way down to the Paddling Adventures concession stand near the head springs canoe launch area.  There, you will find the staff to help you rent paddleboards.  The cost for two paddleboards, paddles, life jackets and return shuttle service back to the north entrance was $64.20.  Not bad for a fun, few hour adventures!

If you are paddling at a peak time, I highly suggest that you rent from Paddling Adventures in advance.  This will secure your entrance into the park if you arrive and the park is already full.  Rent your paddleboards here!

We gathered our additional supplies and headed to the head spring canoe launch area.  I highly recommend bringing the following supplies with you on your paddleboarding adventure:

The staff brings your equipment down to the launch area and helps you launch if needed.  There is a nice launching platform with a ladder so you can take a quick dip in the cool 72-degree water prior to getting on your paddleboard.  You launch at the same place as the tubers so it can get crowded.  Launching was fairly easy as others were very helpful.  We got our paddleboards in the water and took off!


A beautiful view of the river!


People were in awe of the paddleboards as we made our way down the river dodging tubers throughout our journey.  Unfortunately, it was a bit busy this day but definitely not overcrowded.  We got asked several times about how our paddleboarding adventure was.  We delightfully replied “It’s awesome” and it truly was!

If you’ve never tried paddleboarding, I highly suggest you take the opportunity to learn on the Ichetucknee River.  It’s not as hard or scary as it may look, it’s rather easy.  You just need a bit of balance and coordination and you are all set!

Paddleboarding was truly so much fun!  You could see right through the crystal clear water and we saw so many fish, birds, and turtles.  We even saw a river otter on this tour!  It was absolutely beautiful and serene!

After a couple of hours, we ended our paddleboarding adventure.  There was a nice staff member waiting at the exit launch that helped take our paddleboards out of the water and he also took them to the drop-off location.  The van pick-up area was a short walk up from the exit launch and they promptly picked us up within approximately 20 minutes and we headed back to the north entrance.




By this time, it was lunchtime and we were hungry!  We chose to leave the park and go to a nearby burger joint in High Springs that we had been eyeing up, an approximately 20-minute drive from the park.  Don’t’ worry, you can get back into the park without a problem!  Once you’re in for the day, they let you in and out all day as long as you have your park paid receipt.  Once in High Springs, we found our little gem, Bev’s Burgers.  If you’re in the mood for a good burger and shake, you must go!  Everything from the food to the service, to the price, is exactly what we needed after a few hours of paddleboarding fun!

If you are not looking to leave the park for lunch, there are plenty of picnic tables and grills available.  The General Store at the south entrance has a concession stand available with a variety of food choices, also.  Check out the menu, here.


Blue Hole


After lunch, we headed back to the north entrance where we went exploring to the famous Blue Hole.  From the parking lot, there’s a short approximately 1/2 mile walk down a dirt path to a small wooden landing platform with a ladder that takes you into the Blue Hole.  We sat on a nearby bench and observed for some time deciding if we wanted to go in our not.  You were not able to walk into the water like a beach, you just jump in from the platform and sink or swim.  This is definitely not a place for the weak; strong swimmers, snorkel equipment, or diving equipment is highly recommended.  I have to admit, the Blue Hole was intimidating!


The famous Blue Hole!


We chose not to go swimming in the Blue Hole as there was a water moccasin snake hanging out in a bush right by the entrance to the water and we were uncomfortable.  It is nature and your chances of coming across dangerous animals is definitely a risk.  Just be aware of your surroundings and you will be fine.  Several others did venture into the Blue Hole and I’m sure it was magnificent!


Head Spring


We opted to go back to the main parking lot and check out the head spring as we could hear splashing and laughter from nearby families and children.  You are welcome to bring tubes, rafts, life jackets, snorkel, and diving equipment into the head spring for a more enjoyable experience.

The head spring has two walk-in areas for ease of use.  One has many big rocks and sand to maneuver through and the other has a wide cement staircase platform.  The head spring was fairly busy so be prepared to deal with many people hanging around the walk-in areas.  Shortly after entrance, the spring drops off to 30+ feet so be aware!  You can also make your way around the sides of the spring and stay in the shallower water which was about 5 feet deep.

The head spring is crystal clear!  Make sure to bring your snorkel or diving gear as you don’t want to miss out on the beauty!  We opted to bring our snorkel gear and it was so nice being able to swim around and down into the 30+ feet of water.  There were several small fish to view and the water was crystal clear.  You can definitely spend a couple of hours here swimming around and exploring.  It was a beautiful swimming hole!


Highlights and Details


Park General Information

  • Arrive Early (7:00 a.m. During Peak Times)
  • Hours:  Every Day 8:00 a.m. – Sunset
  • Located At:  12087 SW US Highway 27, Fort White, Florida 32038
  • Phone Number:  (386) 497-4690
  • $4.00 Single Occupant Vehicle Entrance Fee
  • $6.00 Per Vehicle Entrance Fee (2-8 People Per Vehicle)

North Entrance

  • Only Open Memorial Day-Labor Day
  • Blue Hole Located Here
  • Head Spring Swimming Area Located Here
  • 3.5 Mile Tubing Adventure Launch Located Here (Approximately 3.5 Hour Ride)
  • Paddleboards, Kayaks, and Canoe Rental and Launch Located Here
  • Bathroom Facilities
  • Shower Facilities
  • Playground
  • Covered Pavilions
  • Picnic Tables
  • Grills

South Entrance

  • Open Year Round
  • Mid-Point Tubing Adventure Launch Located Here (Approximately 1-1.5 Hour Ride)
  • Key Holding Service
  • Life Vest Rentals
  • General Store (Food, Gifts, Souvenirs, River Supplies, Ice)
  • Tram Service Rental (Starts at $5.50/Person)
  • Bathroom Facilities
  • Covered Pavilions
  • Picnic Tables
  • Grills

Hotel Recommendation

Reservations and Rentals

The park was a bit confusing because of how the river flows and where the springs are located; however, after you visit once it will make a lot more sense!  All of the park staff were very friendly and helpful.  Check out more information from the Ichetucknee State Park website here!


Have you ever been to the Ichetucknee State Park?  What was your favorite thing to do?