This gorgeous freshwater spring offers a true natural Florida experience.
The sounds of people enjoying the great outdoors reaches your ears well before your eyes feast on the aquamarine and teal colors of the beautiful Bronson Blue Spring.
This freshwater spring and park in Levy County, just a few miles west of Marion County, offers visitors a family-friendly option for swimming and socializing, picnicking and playing.
The deep springhead gently gushes cool, clear water from its sandy bottom. The spring basin decreases in depth as the waters disappear into the lush green forest and become part of the Waccasassa River system, which is also fed by Wekiva Spring. From Bronson Blue Spring, the waters flow 29 miles to the Waccasassa Bay Preserve, where they mix with creek and groundwater sources to nourish the salt marsh.
At Bronson Blue Spring, a tall platform that juts out over the springhead offers a bit of a daring way to enter the chilly water but there also are several staircases leading to the water’s edge as well as a shallow walk-in area that is perfect for the little ones.
One of the wider staircases leads to a section of the springs where the water is about 4 feet deep, perfect for tiptoeing around on the sandy bottom. From some of the others, one must be ready to swim from the bottom step or get onto a float or inner tube.
Snorklers can glide over the springhead and see bubbling sand vents or along the edges where they might spy fish or turtles.
This is this writer’s favorite “swimming hole,” but it is much more than that. The amenities include picnic pavilions, an observation deck from which you can see deep into the forest, a kid’s playground, a swing set and a volleyball area. The bathroom facilities offer room for changing into or out of swimwear.
The park is adjacent to the undeveloped Devil’s Hammock Wildlife Management Area that spans 3,220 acres and is operated in conjunction with the state. And all those acres are a haven of natural beauty and home to abundant wildlife.
On a recent sunny morning, Yomar Ortiz and his mother and stepfather were enjoying their first visit to the park. Ortiz says his family is involved with breeding and training Paso Fino horses in the area and they have visited a number of local parks, such as Rainbow Springs in Dunnellon and Devil’s Den just outside Williston.
“This is nice and it has a jumping pier,” Ortiz offers. “I’m into gymnastics, so I like the jumping pier. This is our first time here and we will definitely be back.”
Bronson Blue Spring Park is managed by the Levy County Parks and Recreation Department. Officials with the department say the property was given to the Town of Bronson for $1 in 1955. It was acquired by the county in 1967. The average attendance on weekdays is 225 guests, with that number soaring to 600 on weekends. Park entry may be delayed when maximum capacity is reached.
One of those greeting visitors at the park is Shelby Osteen, a friendly Levy County native who has a warm smile and an infectious laugh. Osteen happily checks guests in from her spot at the entry pavilion, which also serves as a snack bar, where you can buy chips, candy, sodas and ice cream. The small office carries a variety of floats and inner tubes for purchase and employees like Osteen will help inflate them for a small fee. You can also buy a “Spring Life” T-shirt at the little shop.
Osteen says this is her first “season” working at the venue, “but I know these springs. I have lived in these springs my whole life.” She, too, along with her son, is a big fan of the jumping dock and she says it is one of the few remaining at springs properties in this area.
Levy County also is home to many other natural attractions, in towns including Cedar Key, Inglis and Yankeetown. Henry Beck Park, not too far from Bronson Blue Spring Park, has volleyball and basketball courts, an area for horseshoes, and picnic tables and pavilions. It is located on County Road 343, about five miles east of Gulf Hammock on the Wekiva River
Bronson Blue Springs, at 4550 NE 94th Place, at the end of County Road 339-A, north of Bronson, is open10am to 7pm daily through the end of September. The entry fee is $2 per person, with discounts for Levy County residents 65 or older or who are disabled, and for military personnel with ID. There is no fee for children 5 and younger. OS
To learn more about all the beautiful places at which to play and have fun in Levy County, go to visitnaturecoast.com