Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is a 6000 acre wildlife sanctuary quietly hidden in Spanish moss-draped Florida woodlands. It is located about 16 miles south of the city of Tallahassee, Florida. The main part of this park is the Wakulla Springs, cold water flowing from the spring creates the Wakulla River one of the last pristine rivers in Florida. One of the main attractions is the boat tours that operate 365 days a year depending on whether. The three-mile River Tour is a forty-minute cruise on the river to see alligator’s, native birds, turtles and other wildlife close-up. The only boats allowed on the spring in the upper third of the Wakulla River are the tour boats run by the state. When water conditions permit, glass bottom boat drift over the bowl of Wakulla Spring one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring.
Edward Ball a wealthy financier purchased the property in 1934 and developed it as an attraction that focused on the preservation of wildlife and the surrounding habitat. The Wakulla Springs Lodge completed in 1937, is an excellent example of Mediterranean revival architecture. Mr. Ball built this for his own personal use and the use of his guests, he was creating his own private nature sanctuary. He owned the property until his death in 1981. In 1986 the state of Florida purchased the spring and the surrounding 2860 acres for $7.15 million and created the “Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park”. In the year 2000, another 3000 acres were added to the park to protect the groundwater known as Floridan Aquifer. It is estimated there are 18 sinkholes on the Wakulla Springs State Park property, making it the 6000 acre park what it is today. The 27 guest rooms of the Lodge are furnished with period furniture and private bathrooms. The dining room overlooks the spring providing elegantly prepared food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you would like to stay here, you can make reservations through the Florida state park system.
Here are some pictures of the Lodge from the back facing the spring.
And the side entrance.
Here is a photo of the lobby’s beautiful hand-painted 10 foot ceilings.
Photo of the front porch facing the spring.
A photo of the dining room.
Also in the lobby is “Old Joe” an 11-foot 2-inch stuffed alligator. That was killed by someone back in 1966, they were offering a $5000 reward about information to catch the killer, but no one ever came forward.
The spring is a haven for local youths who love the exhilarating rush of leaping from the dive tower to swim in the 70°F water (the springs water temperature stays at this temperature year-round), here are some photos of the diving tower in the swimming area right behind the Lodge.
Looking back at the tower from boat ride.
My friend Dick and I did go on one of the boat tours, the tour costs eight dollars a person and Dick and I were the only two on this particular tour. One of the nice things is that these boats are electric and solar powered, so they are very inexpensive to run. Our guide was very informed to tell us about the history of the area in much of the wildlife.
Here’s a photo of one of the boats with the solar panels on the roof on a sunny day the panels run the boat and charge the batteries at the same time. So no extra electricity is needed to charge the batteries.
Nice spacious well-built boats that were built by Edward Ball for use on the river.
Here are some views as we took off from the dock heading down the river.
There’s a new looking back up at the docks.
As we went down the river we got to see very much wildlife.
There were many turtles.
All kinds of different birds.
In the sky there were hundreds of turkey vultures flying, they come here from the north to nest and have young this time of the year.
This guy was sitting right along the shore, with his wings spread drying them and warming himself.
We got to see many alligators of numerous sizes, sitting on the shore warming themselves. The guide told us interesting things about the alligators. How the female will go up on the shore lay her eggs and then build a mound of leaves to keep them warm till they hatch. The female will lay between 35 and 90 eggs, the incubation period is 65 days, and a temperature within the nest plays a critical role during this time. If the temperature of the nest is above 93°F for the incubation period all the juvenile alligators will be born male. If the temperature is below 86°, the young alligators will be female. Temperatures in between deliver mixed genders. The female alligator will hang around the nest until the baby alligators are born, and for several weeks after they are born to help protect them.
We did get to see a couple manatees but I did not get good photos of them, if you look at this photo you can see a swirl on the water that’s the nose of the manatee.
Over the years there were several movies filmed at Wakulla Springs. In 1941 “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure” was filmed here. In 1953 “Creature from the Black Lagoon” was filmed at the spring. In 1976 “Airport’77” and “Joe Panther” were filmed at the spring.
Photo of the spot where in movie creature of the Black Lagoon was supposed to be living.
There are also several nature trails that you can hike on and enjoy other parts of the park, and get up close and personal with more wildlife and nature.