At Crystal River Archaeological State Park, a paved interpretive trail winds through a ceremonial mound complex built more than 2,500 years ago. The park is the home of Florida’s only petroglyph.
Location: Crystal River
Fees: $3 per vehicle
Open: Grounds open 8 AM until sunset daily. Museum open 9-5 Thu-Mon
Leashed pets welcome
A salt breeze riffles through the cabbage palms along the edge of Crystal River, where massive mounds topped with trees loom. They are remnants of an ancient civilization, a people who came to this spot along the river to worship at tall temples, trade with others, and bury their dead. Evidence of human use of this site dates back nearly 10,000 years, encompassing four major cultural periods in Florida’s history.
A staircase leads to the top of the highest mound for a sweeping view of Crystal River, which is well-known as a manatee haven during the winter months. The park offers a boat tour of the river, which affords another perspective of the mounds.