Wildlife State Park
Located seven miles south of the town of Crystal River
on U.S. 19, the 150-acre Homosassa Springs
Wildlife State Park enjoys a prime location at the headwaters
of the crystal clear Homosassa River.
The park is best known for
its 45-foot deep natural spring which pumps millions
of gallons of water per hour. The spring is the headwaters of the Homosassa
River, which meanders for 9 miles to enter the Gulf
Besides being home to as many as 34 different species
of fish, the park has become an important refuge for
manatees born in captivity.
It also serves as a half-way
house for injured manatees that can be released back
into the wild.
Because of its natural spring and "real world" conditions,
Homosassa Springs is a favorite
last stop for a manatee about to be released in the wild.
Park rangers offer educational programs on the manatees
several times daily. Call for specific times. Bleachers for
these programs are next to the main spring.
Manatees can be viewed close-up, nose-to-nose through a floating underwater
observatory, a 168-ton structure launched by sliding it into
the water using bananas, not grease, in order not to
damage the fish population. The radical concept was adapted from an
old Max Sennett movie.
In addition to the manatee viewing available 365 days a year, visitors
have miles of nature trails to walk and can also cruise
the Pepper Creek by tour boat.
Contact information: Call 352/628-5343. or visit website. The park entrance, 4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. 34446, is a quarter mile west of U.S. 19 in Homosassa Springs,
75 miles north of Tampa on U.S. 19 and 90 miles northwest of Orlando.
Open daily (including holidays) at 9 a.m. and closes
at 5:30 p.m. The last ticket is sold at 4 p.m.
For close-up views of manatees year-round, log on to the spring's underwater manatee cam. (You won't see anything if it's after sunset!)
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