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Florida Caverns State Park Guide — Tours, Hiking, and More

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

771 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Nestled in the heart of Florida, Florida Caverns State Park is a true gem that offers visitors a rare opportunity to explore an underground cave system. This incredible park is the only one of its kind in Florida and attracts around 100,000 visitors each year with its fascinating cave formations and breathtaking natural beauty.

The park also offers a variety of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, including hiking, biking, and horseback riding. With its unique blend of natural beauty, history, and adventure, this state park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best that Florida has to offer.

How To Get to Florida Caverns State Park

Where Is Florida Caverns State Park?

Florida Caverns State Park is situated in Marianna, Florida. The park is spread over 1,449 acres and includes a vast cave system. Tallahassee, the closest major city, is just over an hour’s drive away.

Florida Caverns State Park Opening Hours and Seasons

Florida Caverns State Park is open every day of the year, including weekends and holidays. The park opens at 8 a.m. and closes at sundown. If you’re interested in exploring the cave, you can join a tour from Thursday to Monday.

Nearest Airports to Florida Caverns State Park

Tallahassee International Airport (TLH) is approximately a 70-minute drive from Florida Caverns State Park. This airport provides nonstop and connecting flights to numerous cities worldwide, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. American, Delta, JetBlue, and Silver Airways are some airlines that serve this airport.

Bottom Line:

TLH is the closest and most convenient airport option for those who want to maximize their travel time.

Driving to Florida Caverns State Park

There are a few different ways to reach Florida Caverns State Park. If you are coming from Tallahassee, you can head west on I-10 until you reach exit 142. From there, turn right onto Highway 71 North and continue to Highway 90. Turn left and follow the signs until you reach the park entrance.

For visitors coming from Pensacola, head east on I-10 and take exit 136. Turn left onto Highway 276 North and continue to Highway 90. Take a right turn and follow the signs until you reach the park entrance.

Taking the Train or Bus to Florida Caverns State Park

There is no train or direct bus service available to the park. However, you can take the Greyhound bus line to the Tallahassee station, about 70 minutes from the park.

Getting Around Florida Caverns State Park

Getting Around Florida Caverns State Park
Image Credit: Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Visitors have several parking areas available throughout the park. The recommended way to explore the park is on foot, both above ground and below. Additionally, many visitors opt for a canoe ride to paddle through the park’s boundaries.

What To See and Do at Florida Caverns State Park

There are many things to see and do at Florida Caverns State Park. From touring the underground caverns to hiking the amazing trails, there’s something for every visitor to enjoy.

Bicycling

Bicycling is a popular activity at Florida Caverns State Park. Several trails provide stunning views of the park’s gorgeous scenery. The Sinkhole Trail and Bumpnose Trail are some of the popular trails here. The Sinkhole Trail is slightly over a mile long and signed with a red trail blaze. The Bumpnose Trail is almost 7 miles long and signed with an orange trail blaze.

Cyclists can see floodplains, rivers, sinkholes, and the karst landscape along the trails. It is also a great way to see the variety of flowers, plants, and wildlife throughout the park.

Geocaching

Geocaching is like a modern-day scavenger hunt that will take you on a thrilling adventure through the park’s most beautiful and hidden spots. With the help of a handheld GPS device, visitors track down cleverly hidden caches throughout the park’s trails and natural features. Grab your gear, put on your hiking boots, and get ready for an unforgettable geocaching experience at this state park.

Hiking

You shouldn’t miss out on the incredible hiking trails at Florida Caverns State Park. The park boasts a variety of trails, ranging from easy, family-friendly walks to more challenging treks that will take you through beautiful forested areas, past sinkholes and rivers. With so much natural beauty to explore, this park is the perfect place to escape life’s hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in the great outdoors.

Horseback Riding

Florida Caverns State Park offers a unique experience for nature enthusiasts who love to explore the outdoors on horseback. The park’s well-maintained equestrian trails provide breathtaking views of the diverse flora and fauna that call this place home. Equestrian camping and stables are also available for those who want to stay at the park.

Paddling

Exploring the park by canoeing down the Chipola River is an exhilarating experience. You can rent canoes from the Florida Caverns Gift Shop below the visitor center. As you paddle down the river, you can witness the breathtaking views of the diverse range of flora and fauna in the park. Some animals you can spot include egrets, beavers, snakes, herons, and alligators.

Tours

Florida Caverns State Park Tours
Image Credit: Florida Department of Environmental Protection

This state park is home to some of Florida’s most beautiful and mesmerizing underground formations. This park allows visitors to explore a fascinating system of limestone caves formed millions of years ago.

The guided cave tours take you through the park’s most impressive caverns, where you’ll see incredible geological formations like stalagmites, stalactites, columns, and draperies. The tour guides are knowledgeable and provide interesting information about the caves’ history, geology, and ecology.

The temperature inside the caves is a cool and constant 65 degrees, making it a refreshing escape from the Florida heat. The cave tours suit all ages, although some narrow passageways require visitors to squeeze through.

Hot Tip:

Participating in a cave tour at Florida Caverns State Park is an unforgettable experience that is definitely worth adding to your travel itinerary. Just note that the tours are only available from Thursday to Monday.

Visitor Center

The Florida Caverns State Park visitor center is an excellent place to start your adventures. This unique limestone building was initially constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1942, using locally sourced materials as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal project.

The center offers a self-guided museum with various exhibits that teach visitors about the park’s cultural and natural history. A guided cave tour video is also available if you cannot take a cave tour or would like to prepare for the underground experience.

The park’s concession, Florida Caverns Gift Shop, is located below the visitor center for your convenience.

Best Times To Visit Florida Caverns State Park

Regardless of the time of year you choose to visit this state park, you are in for a delightful experience. However, some seasons are more favorable than others.

Best Time To Visit Florida Caverns State Park in Winter

If you’re planning to visit the park during the winter season, there are still plenty of options available. February is the best time to go as it has less chance of rain than other winter months. The temperature is slightly warmer than other months, ranging from the low 40s to the upper 60s.

Best Time To Visit Florida Caverns State Park To Avoid the Crowds

Many visitors like to plan a trip when the park isn’t busy. One of the optimal times to visit this state park is in January since there are usually fewer tourists during this time. This means you can explore the park at your own pace without feeling rushed or overcrowded. Visiting in January will also help you avoid long lines, traffic, and crowded areas, allowing you to enjoy the park experience fully.

Best Time To Visit Florida Caverns State Park for Ideal Weather

Florida Caverns State Park Ideal Weather
Image Credit: Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Due to its ideal weather conditions, October is a fantastic month to visit Florida Caverns State Park. The temperature ranges from the upper 50s to the low 80s, perfect for participating in various outdoor activities. Another great reason to visit in October is that there is an average of only about 3 days of rain during this month, so you won’t have to worry about inclement weather spoiling your fun.

Cheapest Time To Visit Florida Caverns State Park

Saving money while traveling may seem difficult, but with some research and planning, it is definitely possible. The most affordable time to visit this park is in early October, when flights and accommodations in nearby cities are at their lowest. Visiting in October can save you hundreds of dollars in travel expenses.

Annual Events at Florida Caverns State Park

There are no annual events held at this state park. Tours of the cavern are held regularly throughout the year.

Where To Stay at Florida Caverns State Park

There are many options when visiting this park, whether you decide to stay inside the park or in one of the nearby cities.

Inside the Park

Only 1 lodging option is available within the park’s boundaries: the 38 campsites. These sites are suitable for RVs and tents and are all within a short walk of the Blue Hole Day Use area. Each site offers water, electricity, sewer hookups, an in-ground grill, a fire ring, and picnic tables. For those who prefer a more rustic experience, there are also 3 primitive campsites in the equestrian camping area.

Towns Near Florida Caverns State Park

Several towns surround the park and offer a variety of accommodation options. Whether you want to stay in a big city or a small town, there is something for everyone near the park.

Marianna, Florida

Marianna is a picturesque town with a rich history and a vibrant community. Located near Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna is the perfect base for exploring the park’s natural wonders. After a day of hiking, spelunking, or picnicking in the park, visitors can return to Marianna to enjoy a range of dining options, from casual cafes to upscale restaurants.

There are also several lodging options in Marianna, including charming bed and breakfasts, budget-friendly motels, and modern hotels.

Hot Tip:

For those looking for entertainment, Marianna offers a variety of recreational activities, such as golfing, fishing, and kayaking on the nearby Chipola River.

Tallahassee, Florida

If you are looking for a home base that combines the buzz of the city with easy access to nature, Tallahassee is definitely worth considering. This vibrant city offers a wide range of dining, lodging, and recreation options, making it an ideal base for visitors who want to explore the area. The park is just over an hour from Tallahassee, so you can easily make a day trip or even stay overnight.

Whether you’re looking for fine dining or casual eats, luxurious accommodations or cozy lodgings, or indoor activities or outdoor adventures, you will find plenty of options to suit your preferences in Tallahassee.

Where To Eat Near Florida Caverns State Park

Although there are no restaurants within the park, plenty of dining options are nearby. No matter what you are in the mood for, you will find a perfect place to satiate your hunger.

Mashawy

Mashawy is a highly-rated restaurant in Marianna that serves a fusion of Mediterranean, Greek, and American cuisines. It is located less than a mile from the park and serves lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Sunday. It’s a perfect spot to recharge after your park adventures.

Wharf Casual Seafood

Wharf Casual Seafood is a highly acclaimed restaurant in Marianna known for its fresh and delicious seafood offerings. Located just a short drive from the park, it is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

The restaurant offers a diverse menu with classic seafood favorites such as shrimp, crab, and lobster and unique dishes featuring Key West flavors.

Florida Caverns State Park Facts

Florida Caverns State Park
Image Credit: 4Nzik via Flickr (license)

1. A New State Park Established

This park was established on October 11, 1935, and opened to the public on June 16, 1942.

2. Roosevelt’s New Deal

This park was developed during the Great Depression as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, and it was established in 1933 to provide jobs for men during the Depression.

3. The One and Only

This is the only state park in Florida that allows public access to air-filled caves.

4. Native American Cultural Site

Researchers believe that Native Americans used the caves as a place of refuge during the Seminole Wars.

Final Thoughts

There’s much to love about Florida Caverns State Park, which has magnificent caverns, stunning underground formations, scenic hiking trails, and stunning views. Book your trip to this today so you don’t miss the chance to experience this state park.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Florida Caverns State Park?

When entering the park, a $5 fee is charged per vehicle containing 2 to 8 people. The cost for single-occupant vehicles is $4, while pedestrians, bicyclists, and additional passengers in a vehicle are charged $2 each. Cave tours incur additional fees.

How much time should I spend at Florida Caverns State Park?

Spend a full day exploring Florida Caverns State Park. This time allows for participating in a cave tour, hiking the trails, and other activities.

What are some points of interest near Florida Caverns State Park?

Various places of interest are near this park, such as a Civil War Battlefield, an art gallery, antique shops, historical landmarks, and recreation areas.

Can I bring my dog to Florida Caverns State Park?

Dogs are allowed at Florida Caverns State Park, but they must be leashed (no longer than 6 feet) and waste disposed of at all times. They are not allowed in the caverns or the swimming area.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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