FALLING WATERS STATE RECREATION AREA

From I-10, take State Hwy. 77A three miles south
8:00 a.m. to sundown
Special permission is necessary to enter the caves at Falling Waters, but hiking overland along an elevated boardwalk allows views of the many sinkholes that characterize this cave-riddled landscape. The highlight of the journey is a spectacular overlook of an 80-foot waterfall plunging into one of the sinkhole cave entrances.
(904) 638-4030


FLORIDA CAVERNS STATE PARK

Three miles north of Mariana on State Hwy. 167
8:00 a.m. to sundown
Though Florida is pock-marked with many dozens of caves, almost all of them are water-filled, now accessible only to trained cave divers. The caves of Florida were formed during recent Ice Ages, when polar and continental ice caps locked up water that would have otherwise returned to the sea. The resulting lowered sea levels allowed freshwater to drain downward through Florida's flat-lying limestones, carving extensive cave systems. With the melting of ice caps and the return to a peak sea level stand in the present day, freshwater no longer drains from the Floridan caves, but rather backs up and floods the once-dry passageways.

Florida Caverns is a rare exception among Floridan caves in that it still features many air-filled sections. As its uppermost passageways only slightly underlie some of Florida's highest land (at 345 feet above sea level), these sections have not been reflooded.

The cave was excavated for cave tours by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938 and then opened to the public in 1942. Its passages are remarkably well-decorated, considering the youth of the cave system and the thin cap of limestone that roofs it.

Depending on fluctuations in the regional water table, more or less of Florida Caverns is accessible. Try to plan your visit during a dry spell.

Pickicking, swimming, fishing, canoeing and camping are other popular activities at the park.

(850) 482-9598

 


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