Both above and below ground, Florida Caverns State Park makes for an outstanding destination. Start with geological study and move on to lush spring wildflowers across rugged terrain.
Opened in Marianna in the 1930s by the hardworking Civilian Conservation Corps, the tour route at Florida Caverns wraps through more than a dozen rooms with their own distinct and colorful landscapes.
Resources for exploring the area
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Address: 3345 Caverns Rd, Marianna
Fees: $4-5 vehicle. Cave tours extra.
Land Manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset daily. Leashed pets welcome.
From Interstate 10 exit 142, follow SR 71 north to US 90. Continue west on US 90 to downtown Marianna, where a large sign points you to make a right on SR 166, Florida Caverns Road. Follow it north, crossing the Chipola River and passing Citizens Lodge Park before you reach the park entrance on the left, just after the Florida Caverns Golf Course (not a part of the state park). Once inside the park, take a left at the fork to drive down to the parking area at the show cave.
About the Park
Most visitors show up to see Florida’s only show cave, and for good reason. It’s a live cave, dripping water from the stalactites above. Landmarks have names like Fat Man’s Squeeze, the Wedding Room, and the Cathedral.
Geologic beauty emerges as rimstone pools, delicate soda straws, pure sparkling calcite, helicitites, and cave bacon.
Cave tours are offered Thursday through Monday, excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas. Tours are limited to 25 people and cost $10.75 for ages 13 and up, $5 ages 3 to 12. Built in the 1930s, the tour route is not accessible.
Call ahead to ensure the tour isn’t cancelled due to flooding or staffing issues: 850-526-2650
Above ground, the park is just as fascinating. It includes Florida’s only hiking trail that goes through a cave (hint: you can see the light at the end of the tunnel) as well as rugged karst landscapes along the Chipola River floodplain.
While Hurricane Michael decimated the ancient forest, the hills are still a geologic marvel and bloom with delicate Appalachian-style wildflowers.
Accessible paved paths loop through some of these gorgeous habitats, but the boulder-strewn climbs along natural surface trails are much more fun.
At the north end of the park, there’s Blue Hole, a spring to swim in (when open). Paddlers can head upriver on the Upper Chipola River Paddling Trail, a challenging but rewarding route; downriver, the river vanishes beneath a natural bridge.
The park offers a large campground, lushly set in the hilly woods, and many miles of multi-use trails.
Add in the adjoining 9-hole golf course built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s – adjacent to, but not a part of the park, just south of the park entrance – and there’s plenty here to fill a long weekend.
Our photos and descriptions pre-date Hurricane Michael damage on the surface.
Between Madison and Marianna and across Wakulla County, explore a colorful collection of natural springs for swimming and snorkeling, all within an hour of Tallahassee.
Made up of liquid pools of beauty on the edge of Florida Caverns State Park, Baltzell Spring is a compelling destination for spring hunters along the Chipola River in Marianna.
Looking for a compelling wildflower walk? One of Florida’s showiest parades of wildflowers clings to the bluffs at Florida Caverns State Park.
See our photos from Florida Caverns State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Fed by first-magnitude Jackson Blue Spring and nearly a dozen smaller springs, Merritt’s Mill Pond is a waterway unlike any other in Florida, its unusual hues trapped between rocky slopes and edged with moss-draped cypress trees.
With a developed swimming area surrounding a first-magnitude spring, Blue Springs Recreation Area is a liquid playground in hues of blue, a broad open basin pouring forth a major spring run
Circling Hinson Conservation and Recreation in Marianna, the Hinson Trail offers rugged hiking, scenic views, and historic sites along its 4 mile circuit.