Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a really neat place to visit on the Florida Gulf coast.  It’s in an off-the-beaten-path part of Florida, which makes it all the more charming to visit.  If you’d like to see some Florida inhabitants (wild, that is) up close, this is a good place in which to do it.

On the Florida Gulf coast, you’ll find it north or the Tampa area, and south of Crystal River.  It’s close to the Big Bend area (where the Florida peninsula bends around to meet the panhandle.  As a result, you can see animals from both the South Florida area, as well as inhabitants of Central and North Florida as well.

Entering the Park

You can get into the park from two different entrances; one is direct and one requires a boat ride.  You can catch the boat ride from US 19 (the “main drag” through Homosassa Springs); the park is very clearly marked.

The boat drifts down a spring channel, with trees on either side.  It’s narrated by a park guide and is only about 6 or so minutes long.  I do recommend it — it’s a lovely way to be introduced to the park.  🙂

What’s in Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park?

What can you see here?  You’ll see one of Florida’s famous residents, manatees.  Especially in the winter, these gentle water-going mammals congregate in the springs.  And the clear spring water makes it easy to spot them!

A Florida resident that is rarely seen is the Florida black bear.  These bears are pretty shy, but you can see some here.  They do look pretty cuddly, but they are bigger than they seem and pretty darn strong.

There are a lot of birds to be seen — ibis, herons, egrets, ducks, flamingos and more.  But my very favorite is the roseate spoonbill.

This endangered bird gets part of its name from the rosy color of its feathers, and the other part because of the unique shape of its bill.  It feeds by kind of spooning it’s beak in the water, searching for tasty underwater morsels.  They’re fairly good sized — around the size of a swan, more or less.

It’s really hard to find these birds in the wild, so enjoy viewing them while you have the opportunity!

Now one part of the park that hubby liked was the underwater view of the spring inhabitants.  When we were there, a zillion snook and other Florida fish were swimming around in the water.  You walk down some stairs into a viewing area that has a glass panel, and you can look into the watery world on the other side.

(Poor David — I could tell that he really wished he could have brought a fishing pole, but since there’s no fishing in the park, he had to content himself with just watching the fish swim by.)

The photo isn’t great — the camera doesn’t handle low-light well — but you can get an idea of just how many fish were in the spring!

Let’s see, what else?  Ah, the ubiquitous Florida alligator was present and accounted for — kind of hard to have a wildlife park in this state without them!  There were plenty to be seen, and they certainly seemed contented to lie in the sun.

This isn’t a humongous park by any means, but it’s a nice representation of the north central part of Florida.  I think we spent about 4 hours in the park, plus the boat rides back and forth.  So it’s a nice afternoon outing.  Well, actually it’s better to get there in the morning for best wildlife viewing, but any time of day you’ll see plenty of critters.

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