Saturday afternoon had us heading north from Ochlockonee up to Wakulla Springs State Park. This has to be a day trip unless you stay at the lodge because there is no campground. There is a $6 carload fee to get in.
Here we are ready to enjoy our time at Wakulla Springs.
Wakulla Springs is the home of one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world. Swimming is a popular activity during the hot summer months. That water is really cold! Take a look at Helen trying to pretend it isn't cold. She is a professional triathlete so has to do the swim portion in some pretty cold water at times. I waded in up to my knees and that was enough for me but Steve, Helen, Cameron, and Morgan all swam. Steve and Helen went off the two story diving platform.
This is a view of the swimming area from the boat dock.
The park has daily guided riverboat tours where you are pretty much guaranteed to see alligators, turtles, and dozens of different kinds of birds. Sometimes you also see manatees. The area is blocked off so other boats cannot come in through the wildlife sanctuary and even the park's boats do not go beyond into that area although the wildlife can move freely from the spring right on out through the other end of the river. Here we are on the boat heading up the river. It is so quiet and beautiful.
I cannot remember the name of these birds but they are very large. They stand with their wings all spread out to dry them after swimming and fishing in the river.
This was the first gator that we saw. He was sunning on the bank.
Lots of beautiful birds.
These turtles were all lined up in a row sunning themselves.
This little guy was relaxing in the water.
All that white you can see is a large manatee just under the water. It is so neat to see them. They are very friendly so you usually see a number of them together but this guy seemed to be alone.
Here he is floating along the top. The boats have guards on the propellers so there is no way they can get hurt when they swim around the tour boats.
Looks like some sort of lost land. The Creature of the Black Lagoon was filmed here years ago along with a couple of the very early Tarzan films.
See the bird? We watched him catch and eat a fish. It was really neat.
We are back up at the spring. Do you see the shapes in the water? There were about 7 manatees swimming around there. The swimmers out on the rafts were easily able to see them.
This is the diving platform with people lined up to jump off. It is very deep out in front of that platform.
This is the lodge taken from the boat. It is back behind the swimming area. It is very old so it is a unique experience for those that stay there. No TV, etc. They have a dining room that is open during mealtimes and appeared to be quite fancy. Anyone can go in the lounge area where they have huge checker games set up. They also have a huge stuffed alligator named Old Joe. He lived near the springs for years and never bothered anyone. One night some poachers snuck in and shot him. He was wily even at the end and dived to the bottom of the spring before he died so they didn't get him. The rangers found him the next morning and brought him to the surface but it was too late. They had him preserved as he was very famous and so he still presides over the spring.
This is a great place to visit. Even if you don't want to swim, the boat ride and the nature trails are wonderful.