Monday, January 18, 2010

Manatee Springs State Park near Chiefland, FL

I had been to this park a few times as a tenter but this was the first time with the camper. My post from a previous visit was helpful in selecting my campsite. I went with #83 this time, which was a very good choice.

The sites at this campground are very wide, and while there isn't a lot of foliage between them, they are set so far apart that one still has privacy. I highly recommend Hickory Loop over Magnolia if you will be using the bath house, as it is much more conveniently located to all sites. I saw a greater variety of camping modes here than I have recently encountered elsewhere--several tents, a couple of pop-up campers, a truckbed camper, an Aliner, and some mid-size travel trailers. While the sites are wide, they seemed a little short for the monster RVs that I usually find myself among.

Site 83 has a small pond (which I believe is actually a spring) behind it and beyond that is woods. The walk to the main spring and the boardwalk that leads to the Suwannee River is next to site 94.

After I had set up the camper, I went in search of deer; this is one of the best parks for anyone wanting to see them, since they are very tame. I didn't have to go far--four campsites away, to be exact. Site 88 was vacant, and a group of 6 deer were feeding on the grass along the edge of it.


I walked around the campground and then wandered over to the Magnolia campground to see if there were any more deer to found. Then I headed down to the spring and the boardwalk.

Last time I was here, there were a lot of turkey vultures in the trees by the river. Their numbers seemed to have doubled this time, and they were also in the trees along the boardwalk. This beauty had settled on the ground next to the boardwalk.


What are you looking at?

The boardwalk leads to a shelter at the edge of the Suwannee River. A long dock extends from that shelter. These people had found a scenic spot to sit and while away the warm afternoon.

I walked back toward the spring and discovered that about four manatees had appeared in the inlet from the river to the spring. The water there is very shallow and crystal clear, so they were clearly visible, though difficult to photograph through all the reflections on the water. When I arrived at the spring, I met two women who were also busy photographing the flora and fauna of the area. While I was talking to one of them, I noticed a very large green bug making its way along a wooden railing. How could we resist a portrait or two?

That evening I read outside the camper until it was nearly too dark to see the page, just enjoying the warm temperature (after weeks of record-breaking low temps here). I heard something moving noisily through the surface growth between my chair and the small pond/spring. I got the little camera from the car (closer than the big one in the camper) and managed to get one picture of a visiting armadillo before it went scampering away (as much as an armadillo can "scamper").

It was great to be out camping again and fun to return to this park. I recommend this campground if you will be in the area. It's a short drive to Cedar Key, one of my favorite spots, and Chiefland has some good restaurants if you like to eat out when you camp.


suwannee Refugee said...

I, too, enjoyed the large campsites at Manatee Springs. My wife and I went there during the warmer months, but we had A/C in my VW bus. Great site. One of my favorites.

Sandra said...

Peggy, these are wonderful. the deer are absolutley beautiful and I am VERY jealous. bugs and deer and armadillas oh my oh my. well worth the trip just for the peace and quite and these photos and I KNOW you got more than these. the deer there are much prettier than the ones in south florida, they appear much larger.