This Florida state park offers a rare opportunity in the state to tour underground and explore another world beneath one’s feet.
Colored lights in the cave at Florida Caverns State Park
Caves remain perhaps the most unexplored part of the world. There are many excellent caverns and cave systems to be discovered around the United States and around the world. Perhaps the most famous cave system open to the public in the USA is the Mammoth Caves National Park in Kentucky, while the largest cave in the world is Son Doong Cave in Vietnam, and there are multi-day tours through it.
The only state park in Florida with air-filled caves accessible to the public is Florida Caverns State Park. Venture underground, and one will find an alien world that few get to see and explore. Caves often play an important role in archeology, as well as have a fragile ecosystem filled with cave-dwelling animal life – and the Florida Caverns are no exception.
The grounds at Blue Hole Springs in Florida Caverns State Park
Florida Caverns State Park: Home To Some Of The State’s Only Caves
Florida Caverns State Park is located in Florida’s Panhandle and is one of the top attractions to explore while touring the Panhandle.
In the caves, visitors can expect to find stalagmites, stalactites, and flowstones that have been formed by eons of bedrock erosion. Life in the cave systems includes blind crayfish, bats, salamanders, and other dark-loving species.
There are a dozen or so caverns to explore in the Florida Caverns system, with a pathway forged through them. Here one can learn about the geological history of the caverns as well as their role in Native American history in the area. Some caverns in Florida were used by Native Americans during the Seminole Wars.
Caves are much more than just big holes in the ground; in New Zealand, the ceilings of the caves often light up with a starry night sky-like display of glowworms. In the Yucatán Peninsula, the Maya considered caves as the sacred conduits to the underworld. Lava tube caves (like those found in Oregon and Northern California) offer a very different experience from exploring normal limestone caves.
Illuminated Cave formations
Guided Tours Of The Caves Of Florida Caverns State Park
No one should visit the Florida Caverns State Park without going on one of the daily ranger-led cave tours. The cave tours run year-round and every day of the year (except for Thanksgiving and Christmas).
- Duration: Approx. 45 Minutes
The cave tours are considered moderately strenuous. The sound of dripping water, the many eye-catching cave features, and the otherworldly depths of the Florida Caverns make for an excellent activity while visiting the state. The facilities of the state park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of the New Deal, and one can see many of their chisel marks underground while touring the caverns. They enlarged the cave passageways by hand so that people could explore them standing upright.
Parking is limited, and one should consider arriving early as the cave tour tickets can sell out
Honeycomb rock features
Note that the tours for the caves often sell out. To inquire about ticket availability and organize one’s visit, call the Florida Caverns Gift Shop at 850-526-2650. Only a limited number of online reservations may be made at the Florida Caverns Gift Shop; most tour tickets are purchased in person on a first-come, first-served based on the day of the tour (also at the Florida Caverns Gift Shop).
- Memorial Day to Labor Day: Seven Days A Week
- Labor Day to Memorial Day: Five Days A Week (Thursday through Monday)
Cave Tour Fees:
- Adults: $10.75 Per Person (Aged 13 and over)
- Children: $5.00 (Aged 3 to 12)
Note that the tour includes stooping many times during the walk. The ceiling can be as low as 4.5 feet for distances as much as 15 feet. Participants also need to navigate 50 descending steps (and sometimes 50 ascending steps depending on the tour). Walking surfaces can be slippery.
The tour moves at a leisurely pace and explores a dozen cave rooms. It is a tour that most people can enjoy (including families with children).
Cave formation in some caverns
What To Know About Visiting The Florida Caverns State Park & Facilities
Also in the Florida Caverns State Park are springs and rivers. The park has a 9-hole golf course and various amenities and things to do like hiking, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, and camping, so there is plenty to do, and it is very much worth an overnight stay. At the visitor center, one can find an interpretive exhibit (the visitor center was also built by the Civilian Conservation Corps).
The museum at the Visitor Center includes a large exhibit with cultural and natural resource information.
- State Park Opening Hours: 8.00 to Sundown 365 Days a Year
- Entrance Fees: $5.00 Per Vehicle
- Address: 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, Florida
While the park does not rent horses, there are stables available for equestrian campers.