Last summer a couple of girlfriends and I took a trip to Jacksonville, Florida for a little vacation and to visit a friend. Sydney is all about the traveling lifestyle and she knows how to put together the perfect trip for anybody! One thing in particular that we were looking forward to was tubing down the Ichetucknee Springs.
Location: The Ichetucknee Springs State Park is located 4 miles northwest of Fort White, off State Roads 47 and 238. From the South, take I-75 North to exit 399. Take US 441 North to the city of High Springs. Take US 27 North to Ft. White, stay on US 27 North approximately 4 miles to the South Park Entrance.📍
For Tubing: You can bring your own tubes or you can rent tubes from vendors either inside or outside the park. If you want to save a few bucks, I recommend going through a vendor on the outside.
*Paddle Boards are welcome, too! We met a cute couple that paddle boarded the entire way. Something I wouldn’t mind doing next time I find myself back there again.
Parking: We entered through the North Entrance (located at 8294 South West Elis Church Road) where you can park your car and unload all of your tubes, passengers and other gear. After unloading your car you will then drive your car to the South Entrance (located at 12087 SW U.S. Highway 27) and keep your car parked there. That’s where you will end up after your tubbing adventure. Tram services will be available to take you back to your group at the North Entrance, but you will have to purchase a tram bracelet for $7 each, with tax. We only had 1 person make the trip.
Let the floating begin!
You’ll start at the North End Launch (at the North Entrance). Once you’ve gathered your tubes and gear you’ll head south on a trail that’ll take to the floating starting point where you climb into your tubes and begin your relaxing lazy river experience. Since it is a springs, expect the water to be a little chilly at first. I will say, too, that the water was the clearest I had ever seen! I think I spent half of the float actually swimming in the water. I do wish I had a GoPro too because under the water was one of my favorite parts. There were patches of seaweed throughout the entire river with clean, soft white sand. Throughout the float you’ll come across a variety of fish, birds & even cute little turtles, so have a water resistant camera (or phone) ready to go.
- Side Tip: the outside vendor we rented our tubes from had used twine to tie them to our jeep. We used the same twine to tie our tubes to each other. That way we had more time to relax and fool around without worrying about hanging onto each other or anything.
Floating Time: There are 2 exit points when you reach the South Entrance, Dampier’s Landing and Midpoint Launch (which isn’t on the map). The floating time between North End and Midpoint is about a 45 mins. To Dampier’s Landing is about 1 hour and 15 mins. We only went half way and got off at Midpoint, located right above the dotted trail on the right hand side of the map below. You will walk this trail to the South Entrance where you can leave your tubes for the vendors to pick up later.
*If you choose to get off at Dampier’s Landing make sure to check out the tree that stretches over the springs, it has a rope swing and a huge drop off in the water to jump in! This will also be something I’ll check out next the next time I find myself here. Oh, and watch out for snakes when you’re walking back because this is Florida and we did happen to see one ourselves.
After we returned our tubes we headed inside where you can purchase little snacks and drinks. And after that, we headed back to the North Entrance and parked the jeep, because there was one last thing we had to see before calling our day to an end:
The Head Spring: If you refer back to the North Entrance map, you can see this destination. This was one of the most beautiful little treasures of a place I have ever seen. It’s located right off of the parking lot area and at the beginning of the tubing walking trail. The water was definitely colder here but still just as clear and blue! There are also tuns of fish here to swim with too.
*Only basic things are needed for a smaller trip like this:
– Definitely wear your swim suit and a t shirt or cover up.
– Towels of course.
– Couple bottles of water.
– Comfortable flip flops or water shoes. *Beware, you might be faced with walking on slippery rocks so wear whatever shoes you don’t mind getting wet or what you think would be more suitable.
– Snacks are available at the end of your float but bring small snacks if you’d like. Something that’ll fit in a small baggy.
– Don’t forget to put your phones in baggies too! We saw someone lose their phone in the water and it was forever lost in the sea weed.