Florida Caverns State Park - Feb 2011

 

Just a couple of weeks before going on this trip, the weather in Marianna was below freezing at night.  By the time we arrived, the weather was perfect.  Warm enough to wear shorts during the day, light jacket at night. 

Our goal now is to stay at new campgrounds, rather than continuing to visit ones we have in the past.  While looking through the FL State Park guide, I found this place.  Never heard of it.  Florida has caverns?  Dig a hole around here, it'll fill with water.  But FL is one of those deceiving States, it's a LOT bigger than it looks.  Took 7 hours to drive to the park.  The terrain changed quite a bit from our location.

The campground within the park is surprisingly small.  Just one single loop.  It had a "campground full" sign when we arrived.  We had made reservations online, so not a problem.  The park has several nice spots for picnics, a playground, places to ride bikes, and nature trails.  Everything looked well maintained, and two campsites had campground hosts, keeping the bath house in check.  Campfires were permitted, and each site had fire rings.

 

All loaded up, ready to roll.

Took about 7 hours to get there.  This is about as long as I care to drive in one day.

The roads within the park have been recently repaved in some areas.

A lot of cypress trees and swamp here.  We had a few mosquitoes, despite this being February.  I bet they get thick during the Summer.

The dog was very excited about all the trees!

We reserved campsite #1.  Very spacious.  Most sites were larger than standard for a SP.  The park had recently added sewer connections to every campsite.

As usual, we eat very well when camping.  My wife brought leftover homemade spaghetti.  Toasted up some garlic bread as well, Mmmm!

What are they trying to tell us?

 

 

The Caverns Tour

If you're claustrophobic, this tour isn't for you.  No need to crawl in the caves, but you do have to duck in some places, and turn sideways in others.

$8 each for adults, tour lasts about 45 minutes.  Down we go...

The tour guide was great.  He said he was born in 1937!  He had no problems walking through the passageways.  Had us laughing and learning at the same time.  He's been through the caverns more than 600 times.

The pictures from the small digital camera didn't do justice to the sights.

As he kept reminding us, "Watch your head, watch your step".

The narrow portions weren't difficult to navigate through, but they were dark (camera flash makes it look BRIGHT), and the floors weren't level, and tended to be wet and slick in some spots.

This was another cave that wasn't open to the public.

 

 

This was a great trip, well worth the drive.  The campground was very nice, and the tour will be remembered.  The town of Marianna isn't much to speak of.  They do have a Walmart, a Winn Dixie, and a few fast food restaurants.  Beyond that, pretty dead.  Many stores are now closed.  We did take a 1/2 hour drive to the Falling Waters State Park.  Florida has a waterfall?  A little one, but it exists!

So put the Caverns on your list of Florida parks to visit.  You won't be sorry.  Not quite as fantastic as Mammoth Cave, but also a lot closer (for me). 

 

 

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Last updated 02/22/11    All rights reserved.