Florida Caverns State Park, located in the town of Marianna, is a unique destination featuring Florida’s only show cave, canoeing, camping and miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Within the park’s 1,300 acres visitors can experience a diverse ecosystem ranging from limestone bluffs, hardwood forests, cypress-tupelo swamps, natural karst springs and live cave systems.
The cavern itself is open for daily tours Thursday thru Monday and is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and takes visitors past fascinating formations throughout the 1,600 foot long cave system. Visitors may also have the opportunity to see cave crickets, cave salamanders and four species of bats while on the tour so keep a camera handy.
In addition to the cave the park also has over six miles of trails comprised of the Sink, River, Bluff and Fence Trails. The latter doubles as an equestrian trail and starts near the stables at the Blue Hole recreation area.
Swimming is allowed in the Blue Hole except during periods of low water clarity such as was the case at the time of this publication. Visitors may wish to call ahead to check on the Blue Hole water conditions prior to heading out.
For the more adventurous at heart canoe rentals are available through the park’s visitor center allowing visitors to explore the upper Chipola River. This is a relatively easy paddle which begins at the park’s boat ramp and continues upstream about a mile to a series of springs. Beyond that point the river narrows and becomes increasingly difficult to navigate.
Campers have 38 campsites to choose from, most of which have water and electric hookups. Included in this number are also three primitive tent sites near the Blue Hole recreation and stable area. A stay at Florida Caverns State Parks puts visitors within range of several other nearby attractions including Merritt Mill Pond, Falling Waters State Park, Chipola River and Lake Seminole and makes for a pleasant base camp.