Hello! My name is Ben and in 2022 I’ve set out to camp in my travel trailer as much as possible. I’ve already done a few tours around the Florida/south Georgia area so check out my Camping Stories for more of those reviews and pictures. Can you guess in which park I took this picture? *Answer is at the bottom of this post*
Today’s post is about Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, Florida. It’s in the panhandle about an hour west of Tallahassee and I camped here in the last few days of April. One of my favorite things to see and/or photograph is wildlife, so when I took off for this 4-day trip, I didn’t know what to expect since the park is known for its cave tours. Another reason I was a little anxious is that I found out they don’t do tours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so I only had Thursday to get a tour in, I was leaving on Friday.
The good news is that I booked a tour for 10:45am (central, yes the park is officially on central time) and it did NOT disappoint! I’ll preface these pictures with a warning: There are a few tight spaces that had me feeling a little claustrophobic. Another few folks I talked to mentioned that the ups and downs inside the caves were hard on their knees. So… fair warning about that! Here are a few of my favorite pics from the caverns.
I took a lot more photos, some were terrible, but the less terrible ones might be posted on a cave specific blog. As far as the rest of the park goes, I’ll admit that when I drove up to the camp sites, I was underwhelmed. Would this be boring? What is there to do besides the cave? It also didn’t help that the “blue hole” was brown.
If you’ve done research on the park, you know that it was hit hard by Hurricane Michael a few years back. So in the park you’ll notice lots of newly planted trees and such. They’re marked with little flags (to keep from getting mowed over?), as you’ll see in the first picture below. The second and third pictures in the set below are examples of the stripped (and dead) trees in the area. Hauntingly beautiful, and the birds seem to like perching on them.
And here’s a picture of a cool little cardinal. He was enjoying the not-dead trees.
They’ve really done a great job rebuilding the area. Point #1, I especially loved having a sewer hookup right at my site. I was told a few spots had them before the hurricane, but now they all have sewer.
*you have 15 seconds to get your poop jokes in here*
Moving right along to point number 2 (get it?) and much to my delight, there was plenty of wildlife in the form of birds and alligators. Actually, I posted about the alligators recently. Would you believe I stumbled (metaphorically speaking) upon 8 baby alligators that couldn’t have been more than 2 weeks old? I didn’t stumble upon their mother, which is how I’m able to write this post today. Of course I got some pictures of the adorable little things, you can see them here. And not pictured in that post is this alligator below, sunning on a fallen tree.
The caverns area is a couple miles from the campground so be prepared to bike or drive when you need to get up to the parking lot there. A few campers have those electric bikes, which are darn cool. The more I see them, the more I want one. But I definitely love my 1970s era Free Spirit 10-speed pictured below…
I’ve camped a lot so far this year and met great people along the way. For some reason, though, the folks camping the few days I was at this park were my favori—–
*ahem* I’m obligated to say my parents are my top favorite neighbors because 1. we camped together at East Bank Campground in Bainbridge, GA and 2. They read this blog…
–But outside of family, the people at Florida Caverns were great. It was fun having personable neighbors! Plus, the day before I left, the family who set up their class C camper at the site next to mine were French, so you better believed I eavesdropped as much as I could. I’m sorry, it’s a beautiful language! For all I know they were making fun of the guy next to them and how he wears the same clothes a lot. Hey, it’s how I’ve always been you lovely French family…
Peu importe je t’aime!
If you have the chance, I definitely recommend this park! The caverns are really great and interesting. The guide was knowledgable about the history and info of the caves. Keep your eyes open for gators in the surrounding ponds and river. And don’t forget to look up! There was such a variety of birds. When I get back to the park again, I’m determined to photograph the owls. I heard them a lot but they wouldn’t hang around long enough for a picture.
arrête de me traiter de cette façon les hiboux!
The park pictured at the beginning of the post is Juniper Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest.
Thanks for dropping in…
-Out of the Wilderness