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Manatee Springs State Park

Located 39 miles (62 km) west of Gainesville, Manatee Springs State Park enjoys some of the darkest skies in Florida.  In winter, West Indian manatees swim upriver to the warmer waters of the springs in this park. Snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming allowed. The park is open until sundown, but there is a campground for overnight…read more »

Located 39 miles (62 km) west of Gainesville, Manatee Springs State Park enjoys some of the darkest skies in Florida.  In winter, West Indian manatees swim upriver to the warmer waters of the springs in this park. Snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming allowed. The park is open until sundown, but there is a campground for overnight visitors. A friend of EarthSky has said that the park is “free from night lights.” Stargazing events have been held in Chiefland (only a few miles south of the state park), which has led the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) to encourage Manatee Springs State Park to apply for recognition as a Dark Sky Park, stating that “this park is located in some of the last remaining dark areas in FL.”

Deborah Byrd