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“Beautiful Springs, nice campground” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Manatee Springs State Park

Manatee Springs State Park
Chiefland, FL
352-493-6072
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Ranked #2 of 5 Attractions in Chiefland
Type: State Parks, Outdoors
Activities: Viewing wildlife
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Attraction details
Owner description: Warm spring water sends the manatees here for the winter months.
South Florida
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
“Beautiful Springs, nice campground”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2014

We (husband/wife, young daughter and puppy) spent a couple nights tent camping at the park just after New Years. I had read all the other reviews and researched the park so I was pretty sure I knew what to expect. There were no real surprises. It's a nice North FL park albeit un-spectacular (if that's a word).

The campground was well laid out (we were in the Magnolia campground) and fairly spacious. Most of the campsites are set up for trailers or campers, but there were quite a few tent campers anyway. Having access to power and water at the site was a nice bonus for tent camping. We found most of the other campers to be relatively quiet despite ot being a holiday weekend. The bathroom facilities have gotten a lot of flak on here and I will say they were VERY old and definitely in need of an update (scheduled for Feb 2014), but were kept fairly clean. They just didn't look it because the paint was chipping, the water fixtures were corroded and pitting and the stalls look like they were made by hand back in the 70's.

TICKS - a lot of people spoke of ticks so we asked a lot of questions and prepared by treating our dog for ticks before we went. We are hikers and hit most of the trails, which were easy to follow and well laid out. We found two ticks on clothing during our hikes. HOWEVER - on the last day, right before leaving, we went off trail to observe an armadillo. The area was sparsely wooded with no real grass, just a floor of leaves so I wasn't worried. All of a sudden I looked at my ankles and there was a SWARM of ticks crawling up my legs. I ran off the trail, ripped off my socks and shoes finding 70-100 tick on me. I spent the next two hours and another hour later that night picking ticks off me. My wife and daughter each found a handful also, but my dog had NONE!

SO there are ticks there, but our only problem came after hiking off-trail. Be mindful, wear light colored socks and clothing and check after hiking.

We did not swim the springs since 72 degrees is cold to us, but the water looked beautiful. We did see plenty of deer (especially on the edge of the campground each morning) and other wildlife, especially birds. We saw two manatees off the boardwalk and numerous fish in the springs and river.

Visited January 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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  • English first
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English first
Atlanta, Georgia
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Saw More Armadillos than Manatees”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2014 via mobile

Our family stopped by the park. For our quick visit, we did see quite a bit of wildlife, but no manatees. The spring itself is impressive and has been developed to cater to scuba divers. This means that there is a concrete "amphitheater-esque" structure on one side of the spring that includes pool stairs into the spring and tiered viewing down into the spring. This height made it easier to watch the scuba divers. Behind the amphitheater is a bath-house and concession stand (that appears to sell alcohol). A nice playground is on the other side of this structure.

A terrific boardwalk follows the spring's flow into the wide Suwannee River. At the end of the boardwalk is a cabana and floating dock for boats to moor. Could be a fun deviation on a river trip.

For us, it was a fine stop that gave a great example of the springs and watershed of the area.

Visited December 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Spring Hill, Florida
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“no electricity”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2013

our first camping trip with our new popup been hear before had a great time so we came back first week in december.it started with our camp site the power supply did not work so we called the ranger he came down and moved us to a another site ok fine so we pop up our camper. the ranger came back said he made a mistake we move again. by now i was hungry finally set up camp in the dark. people in the not so friendly the only peson i talk to was a volunteer charlie he was a nice man thanks for being friendly

Visited December 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
84 reviews 84 reviews
44 attraction reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
133 helpful votes 133 helpful votes
“Spring and pulled pork sandwich”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2013

It was our second visit to this park. I like their quite spacious campsites and many tall trees providing much needed shade. The bathrooms seemed more run down than I remember from few yrs ago, and at the point of needing a facelift. I don’t find this park particularly attractive but still worth visiting if you are in the area. The highlight of our visit there was swimming in the spring, and diving in a sink hole which I think is called “catfish hotel”. The sink hole is carpeted with duckweed and looking very unappealing. It is quite the opposite view from underneath the surface. The water is crystal clear. Looking up at swirling patches of duckweed above your head with blue sky as a background looks incredible!! Overall this was an interesting dive with a cave system to explore but it is not for recreational divers. You can scuba on your own and get tanks delivered to the park but get the permit from the park ranger office. Swimming in the spring is like sitting in a giant tub with powerful jets, due to the fact that it is a first magnitude spring. It means that it discharges at least 740 gallons (or 2800 l) of water per second. Impossible to dive into it but have fun trying! I also had the absolute best pulled pork barbeque sandwich from their concession stand. I don’t even like pork but I will talk about this sandwich for a long time.

Visited December 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orlando, Florida
Top Contributor
80 reviews 80 reviews
16 attraction reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
“Lovely weekend getaway.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2013

I took my fiance camping for the first time ever. The campground has a nice set-up with lots to do. The rangers were very nice, as well. The facilities could use a little TLC but overall they were adequate. Campsites are about the average distance apart. The park has hiking trails, canoe/kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, and picnicking facilities. The springs were beautiful. When we went one half of the campground was closed to refurbishment so it was nice and quiet. Plus it was a little chilly out (70 during the day, cold for Floridians) and not too many people were brave enough to swim the springs. One day we had them all to ourselves for about two hours. It was fabulous. The concession stand offers boat rentals, candy, and soda. The board said they offered snorkeling gear too but when we inquired he guy behind the counter said people had rented them over the summer and never brought them back. So take it off the board... That was the only thing that wasn't perfect over our stay.

The town is nice. Walmart about 15 minutes from the campground and an awesome BBQ joint across the street from the turn-off to the park. We are already planning to go back in the spring.

Visited October 2013
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