Exploring Florida Caverns State Park
Hidden down a quiet country road in rural Marianna, Florida lies a beautiful cave system with an interesting history. In fact it is the only publicly accessible air-filled cave in the entire state. These caverns are quite extensive and display many unique formations. Similarly, Florida Caverns State Park extends 1,300 acres into the woods of Northwest Florida.
After the cave was discovered it first remained on private property. Finally in 1935, the state of Florida obtain possession of the land. In addition for nearly a decade, workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) spent long days preparing the property. Even so they not only worked on the cave but also constructed several buildings. Some of these buildings still stand today. The workers remained at the caverns until funding was decreased due to the war efforts of WWII.
In 1942, Florida Caverns opened to the public as a state park. The park opened with a golf course, gift shop and tours of the cave. It was one of the first state parks in the entire state. Every year thousands of visitors still explore the cave and surrounding park each year.
Violet Sky’s Visit
I have visited the cave twice and have enjoyed the tour both times. Likewise I was amazed to find such gorgeous views inside the cave. Above all, the cave is surrounded by marshland and the entrance to the cave is surrounded by stone. The entrance into the cave feels out of place for the typical scenery of Florida.
The tour of the cave is led by a guide from the state park system. The guides tell all the history behind the caves. Meanwhile it is really cool to see all the lights cast upon the stalactites and stalagmites. One really fun part of the tour is when the guide turns off the light. In other words, when the light is turned off you get the chance to experience total darkness. In addition, the cave has a lot of chambers and one of the tours we even saw a bat hanging from the ceiling!
How to Visit
There is a park entrance fee that is separate from the tour cost. However cave tours are available and camping is offered on occasion. Photography is allowed inside the cave for taking photos of the beautiful formations. The museum above the gift shop is interesting as it details all the history behind the cave, Native Americans, local wildlife and conservation efforts.
If you are planning on doing the cave tour be sure to wear closed toed shoes. Furthermore be cautioned as there is water puddles inside the cave so your shoes may get muddy or wet. Also to access some parts of the cave you will need to be able to duck into low clearance spaces.
However there is the opportunity to get married in the cave. For instance the state park hosts several weddings a year at the site.
Accordingly, tours are first come, first serve and are limited in capacity. However tours of the cave last around 45 minutes. Be sure to contact the park for current hours and admission rates. Click here for a link to the park brochure.
Thanks for reading and as always, keep on truckin’!