Summary of Features
- Scale -3rd magnitude (estimated)
- How Pristine? -remnants of old dock and building materials near orifice
- Wildlife—fair to good
- Access—good (boat only)
- Facilities—excellent at Blue Springs 200 yards away
- Cost—$4 per person, or put in 1.5 miles downstream and paddle to spring for free
Labor Day, 2016
Late 90s - Early 2000s
From Highway 90 in Marianna, go north on State Road 71. A Wal-Mart is on the corner. (Note that the southern part of 71 that leads to I-10 is down the road to the west.) After about a mile, right past the green John Deere sign, Blue Spring Road forks off to the right. Go about 3 miles and you will see the sign to Blue Spring County Park. There is a put-in spot at Blue Springs to go downriver to Shangri-La. The spring may also be reached by paddling approximately 2 miles upstream from the public boat ramp at Hunter Fish CampRoad. (From U.S. 90 in Marianna, turn north on 71 at the Wal-Mart and go to Blue Springs Road. Turn right at the big John Deer sign onto Blue Springs Road and go 1.6 miles to Hunter Fish Camp Road. Turn right and go 2/3 mile down this house-lined road to the boat ramp on the left, downhill from the road.)
To reach Shangri-La Spring from Blue, canoe downstream from the put-in at Blue Spring and stay on the right about 200 yards and you will see a lone cypress near the right shore. Look right for a lot of metal posts sticking out of the water, the remains of a dock. A fern-covered rock, about the size of a car, sits ten feet offshore. A smaller boulder is just downstream. Onshore is a limestone bluff with a small overhang near the shore. The little overhang, about two feet high, is used for camping and can be messy. To the right of the overhang, in the water and under the bluff, is the main spring. If you approach the main spring from the right side of the large boulder, you should pass over the second spring, which is in the pond about 45 feet from the limestone bluff and the main spring.
The main spring is a beautiful little cavern entrance—only five feet deep—at the base of the limestone bluff, and just large enough to squeeze into. The water is clear and there is a steady and gentle flow from the vent. Due to its shallowness, the water is paler blue than at Blue Spring upriver. DeLoach reports the small opening widens to a cavern of 15x20 feet with depths of 25 feet to a silty bottom (1997, p. 128). Another diver told JF that the cave extends about 200 feet but is quite narrow. Metal poles—the remnants of an old dock—lead from the land to the large boulder in the water and over near the main spring at the base of the bluff. There are also pieces of concrete block in the water.
The second spring nearby is a 35-foot long fissure that emanates water from about 20 down. During times of heavy hydrilla and algae infestation, the second spring is very silty and can be hard to spot. Fish linger at the bottom of both springs. When clear, the fissure is easy to spot and points toward the boulder next to the main Shangri-La Spring. The bottom near the bluff is littered with large rocks and old building materials to stand on.
- A trail leads up the side of the bluff, giving a nice view. There is a small cave among the large limestone boulders just behind the main spring, with water in the bottom. It appears to be connected to the spring, but the authors did not attempt to enter or skin-dive it.
- One can scuba or skin-dive into the little cave on the bluff, which has no silt but which is also very tight. Only skilled divers should attempt it.
- On top of the bluff and about 150 feet from the edge is an abandoned house that was once used by the USO to entertain troops. Jackson County has spoken of converting the house into a restaurant.
- Jumping off the bluff 20 feet into the shallow, rocky water is not recommended and could cause severe or fatal injury.
Shangri-La is the prettiest little spring you will ever see, and its water is very clear. Just looking at it produces a calming effect on the observer.
- Blue Hole Spring
- Other Merritt's Mill Pond Springs (Blue, Twin Caves, Indian Washtub, Hole-in-the-Rock, Gator)
- Baltzell (or Bosel or Bozell) Springs group
- Spring Lake Springs (Black, Double, Gadsen [or Gadsden], Millpond, Springboard)
- Sandbag Spring
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Three Rivers State Park
- Falling Water State Park
- Torreya State Park
- Florida Caverns State Park
- Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve