Gainesville Florida is famous for being the location of the University of Florida. However, there is much more to this city than its university. Indeed, the history of Gainesville dates back thousands of years and has many wetlands and wild forests that have been preserved to this day. The city is also home to unique restaurants, museums, breweries, nightclubs, botanical gardens, and shopping malls. People enjoy visiting the Florida Museum of Natural History, Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, Kika Silva Pla Planetarium, and downtown Gainesville. They also enjoy exploring the Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation, Lake Alice, Depot Park and the historic Haile Homestead. However, one of the most unique places to visit in Gainesville and one of Florida’s finest hidden gems is the wondrous Ichetucknee Springs State Park, where they can view the beautiful Ichetucknee River, known for its dazzling blue waters.
Here’s What to Know About Tubing the Ichetucknee River in North Florida
People who visit Ichetucknee Springs State Park will especially enjoy tubing on the Ichetucknee River. It’s a unique summer treat enjoyed by students at the University of Florida Gainesville. They only need an hour to reach the river from the college campus and enjoy this unique Florida experience. Ichetucknee Springs State Park is 2,242 acres wide and features amazing hiking trails, picnic areas, and a clear spring-fed swimming hole.
- When to visit: People who want to enjoy tubing the Ichetucknee River should visit on a weekday. If they prefer to come on weekends, it is recommended that they line up at the gates at 8:00 am. This is to avoid waiting. Traffic backups are sometimes avoided by opening doors earlier on weekends. Tubing ends at 7:00 p.m.
- Opening time: Tubing on the Ichetucknee River is possible from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
- Cost: People expect to pay $6 per vehicle as the park entry fee. This applies to a maximum of 8 people. The tube tram costs $5.5. People who do not bring their tube can rent one. The latter will cost them between $6 and $25. Tubes can also be rented outside the park.
Anyone can tubing the Ichetucknee River, even young children. However, they should be provided with life jackets. Older kids will have fun tubing and swimming. However, people should note that the water is cold even in the hot summer months.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of tubing the Ichetucknee River
People traveling to Ichetucknee Springs State Park should do so early after preparing breakfast. The park is located on the north side of Gainesville in Fort White. People need around 2 hours to reach their destination from Jacksonville. There are many places where people can rent tubes, such as the Ichetucknee Tube Center located on Elim Church Road. If you have children who want to ride with them, they can rent two- and three-seater tubes. Sometimes children may not be comfortable smelling cold water. That’s why it’s better to rent tubes fully. Open-bottomed rafts will suit older children who like to move around. At the end of the day, people can return the tubes to the south entrance at the tube drop-off points.
For parking, it is best to leave the car at the south entrance. Shuttles will transport people next to the tube location at the North End. The duration of the tubing experience is approximately 3.5 hours from the north end to the south entrance. However, people should note that the North End has a maximum capacity of 750 tubers. This is why they must arrive very early on the scene to have the chance to participate in the experience.
Those who don’t want to spend the full 3.5 hours on the tubes can start at Mid-Point Launch instead of North End. There is a tram that takes visitors from the south parking lot to Mid-Point Launch. This experience takes approximately 2 hours to complete and ends at the last exit. However, people also have the option of exiting at Dampier’s Landing, 45 minutes into the experience.
Here’s What to Bring for Tubing the Ichetucknee River
People who are afraid for their children floating alone in the river can take a rope or rubber bands with them. Other items to bring include a waterproof bag and a waterproof phone case. People can put camera, sunscreen, keys, bug spray and other essentials inside the bag. Those who want to jump into the waters to explore should also get a snorkel mask and goggles. People should also note that disposable water bottles are prohibited at the park. Thus, they should bring water in a plastic cup.
Also, food and other drinks are not allowed in the river. Other prohibited items include alcohol, tobacco, fishing tackle and disposable items. People also cannot bring their pets to the river. Visitors to Ichetucknee Springs State Park should also note that their bags will be inspected by staff.
Food and drinks can be packed in a cooler so that people can consume them during the break at the picnic areas. Food and drink are only prohibited on the river. Another option is to sample delicious sandwiches, burgers, salads, and hot dogs at the full-service food stand in the south entrance.
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