Ponce de Leon Springs State Park is found in the northwest town of Ponce de Leon, both named after the Spanish explorer who led the first Spanish exploration to Florida in 1513. The legend is that he was on the hunt in the now-state for a spring that would make you younger again by bathing it; hence how this natural pool got the nickname “the Foutain of Youth.”
The park and springs get very busy in the summertime, so if you plan to go during these months, it’s best to arrive early. Once they reach capacity, the gates will shut to any newcomers until others leave and make more room.
Many years before Europeans arrived and settled in 1821, the Ponce de Leon region was inhabited by Native Americans from the Chisca and Chatot tribes. These peoples were experts on the land and used the clear waters for fishing, hunting, and forming a rich history on the grounds.
By 1840, the springs area started developing with newcomers and included a logging hotel and several family homes. Years later, during the Civil War, Union soldiers stopped here en route to the Battle of Marianna and, unfortunately, did a lot of damage, ransacking homes and destroying the hotel.
Natural Springs Swimming and Snorkeling
Featuring a year-round temperature of 68℉, these second-magnitude springs are formed by two underground flows and produce 14 million gallons of water daily. The headsprings create a 350-foot spring run that meanders through the hardwood forests. It creates a relaxing environment for those who want to get away from the crowds.
The swimming area is defined with a rock wall and staircase, making it obvious where to access the water. In the headsprings area, the water is about 20 feet deep and has a vent where the flow refills constantly.
While in the water, paying attention to your surroundings and the wildlife is essential. Alligators and snakes occasionally come through the recreation area, which is their natural habitat.
State Park Activities
The park offers plenty to do outdoors. Swimming and snorkeling are the top things to do, especially on a hot day, but birding, geocaching, picnicking, wildlife watching, and photography are also pretty popular. Hiking is possible on two unique trails that lead visitors on a relaxing stroll that showcases fantastic views of the natural area.
Rangers provide guided tours, but visitors can also explore at their own pace.
Picnic pavilions can be rented ahead of time, but having a booking doesn’t guarantee admission to the park. Visitors planning to come on a particular day with a reservation need to arrive early before capacity is reached.
There is no on-site camping in Ponce de Leon Springs State Park; however, less than a mile from the property is the 60-acre Ponce de Leon RV Park. All sites at this establishment are pull-thru and have water, sewer, and 30 & 50 amp electric. Complimentary Wi-Fi and cable are also provided.
Address: 2860 Ponce De Leon Springs Rd, Ponce De Leon, Florida 32455
Hours: 8 am to sunset, 365 days per year