In 1972 the Head Spring of the Ichetucknee River was declared a
National Natural Landmark (NNL) by the U.S. Dept. of Interior. From there the Itchetucknee River meanders some six miles before connecting with the Santa Fe River and supports a spectacularly diverse ecosystem both on land and in the water. There are hardwood forests and many species of rare birds, mammals and reptiles. Its shores are lined with old growth cypress and its waters are the cleanest in all of Florida but you don't need a chemistry set to know that – all you need do is look. The Ichetucknee Springs State Park is home to two beautiful natural springs, the Head Spring and the Blue Hole Spring. The deep aquifer source of both is more noticeable at the Blue Spring marked by an indigo blue spot at the cave's opening (pictured on the sign) but its depth is indiscernible. To see the source must be a thing of wonder and can be experienced if you are a certified cave diver. I actually dove in a cave in the Crystal River as part of my diving certification. It's an experience I'll never forget and nothing I expected. It was very cool! I'd love to dive the Blue Hole Spring. I don't know if my certification would hold up (it was many, many years ago) but I think I might just have to take the plunge one day.
The Ichetucknee will always be a special place for me and clearly not just for its beauty. If in your travels through Florida you happen to be near the Itchetucknee make sure you don't miss this National treasure. If you don't have time for tubing, kayaking, canoeing or diving may I suggest a stroll or a quick "dip". You can see for yourself this place is irresistibly inviting.
For information on cave diver certification in Florida check out http: www.cavediveflorida.com (Oct. - March scuba diving is available in the Blue Hole).
(It's safe to scroll down - crime scene photos where intentionally left out.)