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EXPERIENCE
GILCHRIST BLUE SPRINGS

Park Hours

8 a.m. to sundown, 365 days a year

AOA Hours

Our hours range from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the winter, climbing all the way to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer. Just like the park we operate 365 days a year. 

AOA Number 

386-454-0451

Onsite Kayak/Canoe rentals and concessions 

We also offer snorkels, souvenirs waterproof casescold drinks, chips, and other yummy snacks.

Park Entrance Fees

$4 to $6 per vehicle exact change is needed, no CC

Location

7450 N.E. 60th St. 

High Springs FL 32643 

Get directions

Rental Prices (No shuttles for this park)

Rentals are based on a 2 hour use

Single Kayak/Paddle Board $22

Tandem Kayak/Canoe $27

 

ACTIVITY RENTALS AT GILCRIST BLUE SPRINGS

This is a popular park and can reach capacity. If you are looking for activities nearby, we have you covered.

 

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 At this park we do not take reservations for our kayaking and canoeing, due to capacity limitations. Our kayaking and canoeing are rented by the hour. Our kayak and canoe rentals are out and back, we do not do any trips from this park. 

 We do take reservations for RV camper rentals for this park for more information click the link below. 

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ABOUT GILCHRIST BLUE SPRINGS

The park contains a collection of natural springs, including a large second-magnitude spring that produces an average of 44 million gallons of water per day. This spring, known as Gilchrist Blue, has outstanding water clarity and discharges water through a shallow spring run about one-quarter mile to the Santa Fe River.

The other named springs on-site are Little Blue Spring, Naked Spring, Kiefer Spring and Johnson Spring, which provide scenic vistas and photographic opportunities.

The most significant ecological habitats include the spring run stream and floodplain communities. The main spring run is renowned for a diversity of wildlife species, including turtles, fish and invertebrates. Redbreast and spotted sunfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish can be observed in waters with unparalleled visibility. 

Kayaking, snorkeling and swimming are all popular at the park. Pavilions are available on a first come - first serve basis. AOA has a concession building where we provide food and beverage services plus Canoes, Kayaks, & Paddle Board equipment rentals. 

Gilchrist Blue Springs is pet friendly but the water is off limits to pets. Leashes are required and pets can not be left unattended. AOA is a pet friendly company so pets are allowed on your rented vessel.

 

Popular activities include kayaking out to and up the Santa Fe River, camping, hiking, nature study and picnicking. 

  • Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is located in Gilchrist County about five miles to the west of High Springs off Northwest 182nd Avenue (County Road 340) in the north-central part of the state along the Santa Fe River.

  • The park is located 25 miles south of Lake City and 20 miles to the northwest of Gainesville.

Click the link to see the park map on the official park website… Park Map

 

Gilchrist Blue Springs Kayaking & Canoeing 

Kayaking at Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is an experience you will not forget. Float your Canoe, Kayak or Paddle Board down the quarter-mile spring-run as it flows from the main spring headwaters to the Santa Fe River. 

Tranquil, turquoise waters surround you as you observe turtle antics and see hawks, ibis, osprey and herons soaring above. Anhingas and cormorants dive for fish, breaking the surface waters below you.

Whether you’re a first-time adventurer or seasoned explorer, the springs and spring run will delight and astound you. 

 

Gaze up at the majestic cypress trees towering over the water, providing shade and habitat for aquatic wildlife, birds and insects. Watch for water snakes swimming, river cooters sunning, mullet jumping and osprey fishing. Look for artesian springs, swallets and siphons in the water.

The temperature of the spring is a constant 72 degrees year-round, but for comfort don’t forget your hat, sunscreen and towel.

The Santa Fe River flows from east to west. At its confluence with Gilchrist Blue's spring run, you will notice the dark, tea-colored water of the river as it merges with the crystal-clear blue spring water.

Keep an eye out for mullet and gar that are frequently seen at the "mixing waters." You may choose to paddle upriver toward Rum Island, Poe Springs, Lily or a variety of other springs. It is not recommended to paddle downstream toward Ginnie Springs. The return trip is labeled as difficult by AOA.

 

Please be advised AOA does not offer shuttle services from or to this park at this time.  Kayaking against the river’s current may be difficult for some.

Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset, but plan for safety and return from your paddling adventure at least one hour before the park closes. We offer Canoe and Kayak rentals onsite, we can not take reservations due to capacity limits at the park.

  • For additional information on kayaking or canoeing opportunities, please call 386-454-0451

 

A Beautiful Window

Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is in the north central part of the state, an area well known for the many spectacular freshwater springs found along the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers. The park protects a group of springs including two second magnitude springs, Gilchrist Blue and Naked, and one of the most significant spring-runs in the Santa Fe Basin. 

 

Springs are important windows into the health of Florida's groundwater - the source of 90% of our drinking water that's silently flowing beneath our feet. Gilchrist Blue and Naked Springs offer a magically crystal blue glimpse of the Floridan aquifer, especially in the late spring before the summer rains begin. 

 

It's a dynamic place when heavy rains arrive, and the level of the Santa Fe River rises. At times, the spring-run is affected as river flooding gradually "pushes back" against the pressure in the Floridan aquifer that causes springs to flow. River and spring water begin to mix as the Santa Fe River back-floods into Gilchrist Spring-run. The amount of mixing can be a helpful tool in measuring changes in groundwater discharge in the spring system. Gilchrist Blue and Naked Springs may even reverse flow and function as "siphons," or inflow points into the aquifer.

While visiting the park it is important to remember it's all connected! These springs reflect the quality of water that we use every day. Please only swim in designated areas to avoid damaging sensitive areas, which are susceptible to erosion and pollution. Always remember to clean up trash and belongings that you bring into the park and remember: together we can protect ...the Real Florida. 

 

A Walk To Remember

The nature trail at Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park may not be long, a little less than a mile, but it has a variety of topography, ecosystems, wildlife and habitats to experience. As you explore the trail you might discover a geocache, a 350-year-old giant cypress tree, a vivid green swampy sinkhole full of turtles, and a hidden spring or two. 

 

Listen carefully and you might hear some of the wildlife the park is here to protect, such as the red-shouldered hawk, barred owl, great blue heron and pileated woodpecker. 

The trail is clearly marked with blue blazes. Feel free to explore the side trail marked with yellow blazes.

Encounter floodplains, sandhills, hammocks, forested canopies, sinkholes and karst topography as you meander this path. The trail changes seasonally, so enjoy the color of North Florida's fall foliage. In spring you can see the bright white of the blooming spider lilies.

Enjoy the quiet solitude of the woods and refresh your senses as you discover there is so much more to Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park than the spring alone.

 

History of becoming a State Park

In 2017, Ruth B. Kirby’s family sold the Gilchrist Blue Springs property to the State of Florida so it could become a Florida State Park. In 2019, Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park was renamed Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park to honor her legacy of protecting the spring.

 

As part of the Florida State Park system, the management of Gilchrist Blue Springs emphasizes sustainable recreational use and restoration of the natural processes that shaped the beautiful springs as well as the surrounding forest and wetlands.

Pardon Our Dust

As the newest Florida State Park, we are planning for amenity improvements such as the entrance road, campground and bath house. RV campers, please be advised there is currently no dump station. Tent campers staying on sites with power require a 30-amp adapter to utilize household plugs. Be advised that during heavy rains the current park drive can be difficult to navigate. Thank you for your patience.

 

Canoe/Kayak Rentals Rules During Manatee Season 

● Look, but don't touch manatees.  

● Do not pursue or chase a manatee if you see one while you are  swimming, snorkeling, diving, paddling or operating a boat.  ● Never poke, prod or stab a manatee with your hands, feet or any object including paddles.  

● If a manatee avoids you, do not chase the animal for a closer view.  

● Give manatees space to move. Avoid isolating or singling out an individual manatee from its group and do not separate a cow and  her calf.  

● Keep hands and objects to yourself. Don't attempt to snag, hook, hold, grab, pinch, hit or ride a manatee.  

● Avoid excessive noise and splashing if a manatee appears nearby.  

● Do not congregate near the canoe launch. Do not hover or linger over top of manatee in the spring run. You may observe manatee  while making your way to the river.  

● Failure to follow these guidelines may result in early termination  of your rental, expulsion from the park, and even fines.  

● By signing the rental release of liability you are acknowledging  that you have been briefed on the basic rules during manatee  season.  

● For more information please visit  

https://myfwc.com/education/wildlife/manatee/viewing-guidelines/

PARK GALLERY