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 -$4 per car
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 the spring on the right just before crossing the Withlacoochie River.
The spring forms a circular pool about 40 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 100-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 will be turned over to Madison County to be managed and protected. The cost was $1,108,000 for the 38.68-acre parcel. As of July 1, 2005, the spring is a Florida State Park--see press release below.
- 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 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. Camping is also available.
- 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.
- As reported in the Tallahassee Democrat (Ritchie, June 25, 2003), Nestle Waters is constructing a bottling plant that will extract 1.47 million gallons of water per day from a site situated about 1/4 mile from the spring. This amount represents about 2% of the average daily flow from Madison Blue Spring. Nestle Waters sells bottled water under the Zephyrhills and Deer Park labels. The article notes that the Suwannee River Water Management District will monitor the operation, spring, and adjacent Withlacoochie River "for signs of environmental harm. . . . If problems are detected, the agency could reduce the amount of water that can be pumped under the company's permit" (p. 2A). The State of Florida gave a $1.3 million grant to Madison County to construct a road from the site of the plant to State Road 6. The plant will employ up to 300 people when it is operating at full capacity.
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 is 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
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2005
CONTACT: Matt Mitchell, (850) 245-2501
Florida Welcomes Visitors to Lafayette Blue Spring--Visitors invited to 159th state park as month-long celebration begins--
LAFAYETTE COUNTY – With Governor Jeb Bush recognizing July as Recreation and Parks Month, the Florida Park Service is welcoming visitors to its newest state park, Lafayette Blue Spring State Park. Taking over management of the park from the county, the 159th state park is a clear, cool spring along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, which allows visitors to travel the length of the historic river.
“Lafayette Blue Spring is a gem, and Florida is proud to add it to our award-winning state park system,” said Florida State Parks Director Mike Bullock. “As the 159th state park, spring resources will continue to be protected and the local economy will receive a major boost as a destination along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.”
Located on the west side of the Suwannee River, Florida celebrates the grand opening of its 159th state park as Recreation and Parks Month begins. Lafayette Blue Spring is a 1st magnitude spring, pumping more than 45,000 gallons of cool, clear water per minute into the historic river. The bright, blue spring waters contrast with the tannin waters of the historic Suwannee River. Just seven miles northwest of Mayo, the park offers an abundance of recreational opportunities including swimming, scuba diving, hiking and camping. Parking, bathrooms, boat ramp and other facilities are currently under renovation.
Florida State Parks along the Suwannee River generate $18 million a
year for local economies and provide more than 360 jobs. Part of
the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail initiated by Governor Jeb Bush in 2002,
Florida state parks along the river provide visitors an opportunity to
navigate the world-famous Suwannee with convenient rest stops located at
one-day intervals. From tents and cabins to motels, hotels and bed
& breakfast inns, eight regional “hubs” with existing infrastructure
and recreational opportunities offer various resting and lodging choices
along the way.