Saturday, July 8, 2017

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Over the 4th of July Holiday I took a trip to the northwest side of the Florida coast to the "Nature Coast" with my wife Kathi.  One of our stops was Homosassa Springs.  During the winter here in Florida, Homosassa Springs is one of the great locations where manatee hold up because of the warmer water.

The park has a visitor's center located on west side of State Highway 98.  Inside the visitors center is the start of your park visit.  All park visitors travel to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park entry point by pontoon boat.  The boat ride is a mile long guided tour along pepper creek to the park entry point where the entry fee is $13.00 per person.  If you are a frequent visitor to Florida State Parks, you  might look into an annual pass. Click HERE for more information on annual passes.
If you happen to be a honorably discharged veteran with a connected disability, you can get a free lifetime pass where you and your family members can get in for free.

Located at the park entry building is a snack bar and a gift shop.  During the summer it is wise to stock up on water from the snack bar before venturing out into the park.  Click HERE to watch my video of the boat ride to the park entry.

Once inside the park you can stroll under the tree canopy to see the wildlife exhibits.   All the wildlife inside the park must be indigenous to Florida.  But there is one exception.  The park has one hippo named Lou.  He is 57 years old and became part of the state park when the park was purchased from  Citrus County during the 80s. In order for Lou to remain in the park, then Governor Lawton Chiles made Lou a Florida resident. Click  HERE for the history of how the park became a state park.

This park is a rehabilitation center for injured or orphaned manatees before being released back into the wild.  The park is also the home of other injured wildlife who cannot survive in the wild on their own.  During our tour of the park we saw many injured birds of prey with damaged wings and a blind pelican.

At the headwaters of the Homosassa Springs is a viewing structure where one can go under water to see the manatees and fish through the viewing glass.  On the day we were there there were three manatee playing around viewing station which gave the visitors a close up view of a manatee swimming around the glass windows.  In addition to the manatee, there were 1,000s of fish.

Sheepshead, snook, red fish and mullet could be seen through the glass.  The sheepshead were following the manatees eating whatever was dropping for their hide.  You could spend hours just watching all the underwater activity at the Homosassa Springs viewing station. Click HERE for my video of manatees in Homosassa Springs.

At the west end of the park where the park boundary boarders the Homosassa River, there were what looked like 50 or so boats having a grand old time playing loud music, eating, drinking and snorkeling in the clear water.  From the shore it looked like everyone was having fun. Click HERE for my boat party video. 

All and all, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State park is well worth the trip.  We enjoyed our visit.  We hope to plan a winter trip to see all the manatees who come to the warm waters of Homosassa Springs during the winter months.  Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great time in the great outdoors.

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