Campground Review: Manatee Springs State Park, Chiefland, Florida
Manatee Springs is located along the legendary Suwannee River about 6 miles west of Chiefland Florida.
The Spring pool maintains a 72 degree temperature year round which draws in Manatees from the river during the winter months when the temperatures in the river fall, thus the reason the springs are named Manatee Springs. The year round moderate temperature also provides humans swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling recreation year-round.
From the spring pool, about 100 million gallons of cool, sparkling clear, clean water are discharged into the stream that connects to the Suwannee River. The stream and the river provide excellent waters for canoeing and kayaking; both types of water craft are available for rent by the park concessionaire, Anderson’s Outdoor Adventures. Anderson also offers pontoon boat tours of Suwannee River. Additionally, they have camping equipment & supplies in their store and have a sandwich and beverage stand with covered picnic tables, where Free Wi-Fi is offered. So you can sit there have a brew or a burger while surfing the Internet!
Other types of recreation popular in the park are fishing, hiking, and mountain-biking. There are 8 miles of hiking and nature trails, plus two boardwalk trails. Biking is allowed on most of the hiking trails as well as on the roads running throughout the park. Some ambitious bikers will bike to town on highway 320; we’ve found the road to town relatively unbusy so reasonably safe for biking.
The campground offers 80 campsites in three camping areas. Each camp area has its own conveniently located washroom and bath house. One of the bath houses we had heat lamps in the showers, a nice feature if you are showing on a cold morning. There is electricity and water at each campsite and a dump site on the grounds for emptying your holding tanks. There is free Wi-Fi at the concessionaire pavilion near the springs itself.
Cypress Trees line the spring pool and lowland areas near the river, but Oak trees are the major tree species in most of the park. Sweetgum and Ash are also found throughout the woods. The mature trees provide nice shade for the campsites and woodland plants and shrubs provide welcome privacy screening. One park service we had not encountered before is the practice of picking trash, sweeping and raking every campsite after it is vacated and before the next user arrived. Sort of like a good motel has the room swept, sheets changed, bathrooms cleaned, and waste baskets cleaned between stays. We also found good maintenance of the picnic tables and fire rings and the cleaning of the washrooms excellent. All the campsite RV parking area we saw were reasonably level and spacious.
Nearby attractions include the village of Chiefland (6 miles away) where you can find most every kind of shopping or dining service. The park is also about 30 miles from Cedar Key (see our post), a town built on a collection of gulf islands that offers gulf resort amenities but also a more homey, laid-back atmosphere than you find in most other gulf beach communities. Beach sunbathing, swimming, deep sea fishing, boat and dolphin-watching tours, shopping boutiques, and excellent sea food restaurants and pubs abound in Cedar Key. It is also only about a mile from a friendly 18 hole golf course – Chiefland Golf & Country Club.
Price-wise, Manatee Springs is middle-level and we feel a very good bargain for the services offered by the park and the high level of good maintenance. Another campground in the area we like is the Shell Mound County Park Campground near Cedar Key.