Madison Blue Spring
Summary of Features
- Scale -1st magnitude
- Scenery -very good to fine
- How Pristine? -pool and run modified for recreation/swimming/restoration
- Swimming -very good to excellent
- Protection -excellent
- Crowds -crowded on warm weekends
- Access -excellent
- Facilities -fine
- Safety -very good
- Scuba -yes
- Cost -$5 per car
Address: 8300 NE State Road 6, Lee, FL 32059 (850) 971-5003. Website: www.floridastateparks.org/park/madison-blue-spring From I-10, go north (left) on exit 252 (County Road 255). Cross U.S. 90 at Lee and continue to State Road 6 (about 4 miles). Turn right and proceed 3-4 miles to Madison Blue Spring State Park on the right just before crossing the Withlacoochie River.
The spring forms a circular pool about 75 feet in diameter. Water flows from a large cavern entrance at the south end that lies at the bottom of a steep rocky bluff (about 20 feet high) and is about 25 feet deep. The sandy bottom slopes upward from the cavern entrance to the run on the northeast side of the spring. A constriction of the run from 25 feet to about 15 feet creates a strong flow, and this strength has been increased by the placement of large rocks across the narrowest part of the 150-foot run. The bottom of the run is rocky and sharp. The run flows into the Withlacoochie River in the opposite direction of the river, and the result is a large arc of clear water and swept river-bottom.
Water in the spring is clear and blue, and the temperature in the spring basin was 70 degrees on June 1, 1999. The spring water warms as it merges with the tea-colored waters of the Withlacoochee, which registered 76 degrees on the same date.
- In October 2000, the Florida Cabinet approved state purchase of the spring, which is now a state park. The cost was $1,108,000 for the 38.68-acre parcel.
- The spring has long been a hangout for local folk, and until being bought (for $200,000) in the early 1990s, was also a local dumping ground. The then new owners cleaned up the place, landscaped it with mostly native plants, and turned it into a rustic dive resort. Scuba tanks, canoes, and inner tubes may be rented.
- The site seems multi-level, with paths terraced with railroad ties leading down to the springs. Most people enter the spring by a wooden deck with stairs leading down to the water, for the rocky walls here are steep and there is no beach except along the narrow run to the Withlacoochee. Certain spots along the rocky walls are suitable for diving into the spring.
- People shoot through the opening in inner tubes and are propelled like rockets to the river. RB tried to stand up here but was knocked down by the force of the water and could not stand up again until he was in the river.
- Above the above the cavern entrance and about waist deep is a natural ledge about two feet wide that you can stand on and gaze down into the cavern opening below. A wooden platform on the bottom provides a place for scuba divers to stand without raising silt with their fins.
- According to Rosenau et al. (1977, p. 256), the spring has historic importance because it was used by local inhabitants as a fresh water source.
- The land around the spring is classic karst terrain with several sinks.
On a sunny day when the river is not high, Madison Blue is unrivaled in the intensity of its blue waters. The state purchase of the spring assures that this very beautiful site will be protected and remain open to the public. The purchase was a major conservation acquisition—the 23rd first-magnitude spring (out of the current total of 33) to come into public hands.
- Unnamed springs, seeps, and cascades downriver
- Pot Spring
- Tanner Spring
- Morgan Spring