Madison Blue Spring State Park in the city of Lee is one of the state’s most well-known and visited natural pools with a first-magnitude spring. Thanks to its translucent blue waters and caves, the park is a prime place to spend the day splashing around, swimming, snorkeling, and just enjoying the lush tropical atmosphere.
Like many other springs in Florida, the Madison Blue Spring State Park area was used by tribal people before the areas were settled. It was also utilized as a freshwater source for local inhabitants until 2000 when it was sold by a private owner and became one of Florida’s newest state parks.
Natural Springs Swimming Hole
Getting in the water is not too tricky with a double-staircase that descends right into the springs. The pool, which is about 82 feet across and 25 feet deep, bursts into a limestone bowl by the west bank of the Withlacoochee River.
At one time, this year-round 72℉ spring was named by USA Today as the number-one swimming hole in the United States. Visitors who prefer to spend their time in more shallow waters can wade in the 150-foot spring run or launch a kayak from there.
The recreation and swimming areas are open daily from 8 am to sunset. Especially during summer weekends, the park can be very crowded and operates on a first-come, first-served basis. When capacity is reached, the gates are shut, and no more visitors are let in.
The best time to visit and get a good parking spot is on a weekday morning when most people are at work or otherwise busy.
The state park offers many types of recreation opportunities on both land and water. Picnicking, tubing, hiking, paddling, and animal watching are all achievable in the picturesque woodlands of varied woods and pines. Many visitors bring kayaks to explore parts of the river, surrounded by incredible scenery that looks like something out of a magazine.
Madison Blue Spring State Park is considered one of the best places to cave dive with its 26,000 feet of mapped underwater pathways. Only those with the correct certification can explore these depths, which seem like a whole new world.
Know Before You Go
Like many other state parks, this one is very accessible but comes with a few essential rules.
- Pets are allowed in the picnic area, but not in the spring.
- The use of metal detectors and drones is prohibited in the park.
- All picnic pavilions are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- When scuba diving: certification must be presented at the ranger station or on the dashboard, divers must sign in at the boardwalk, no solo diving, no collecting artifacts, and all dives must be finished by sunset.
- There is no lifeguard on duty in the swimming area, and everyone enters the water at their own risk.
Camping in the spring is prohibited, but local campgrounds in Madison and the Twin Rivers State Forest are nearby. The Ragans Family Campground is about 20 minutes away by car and one of the closest popular lodging options. It’s actually a water park too.
Address: 8300 FL-6, Lee, Florida 32059
Hours: 8 am until sunset