Baltzell Springs – called Bozell, Bozel or Bosell Springs by cave divers – is a stunning natural spring group on the Chipola River just north of Florida Caverns State Park near Marianna, Florida.
Accessible only by water, these springs are a highlight of the Upper Chipola River Paddling Trail. This state-designated trail runs from Christoff Landing south to the launch at the state park. The northern section is especially wild and challenging and less-experienced paddlers can reach the springs easiest by paddling upstream for roughly 1-mile from the Florida Caverns launch. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at the park.
The springs cannot be reached by land as the surrounding property is private.
Baltzell Springs is actually four separate springs. Clustered near each other, they form a first magnitude group that is a major source of water for the Chipola River. Individually, each may be a second magnitude spring on its own. Several karst windows are visitble next to the springs. Locals call these “springs” as well but they are actually “windows” formed when the roof of a cavern collapses to expose water as it flows to the springs.
The springs take their name from the Baltzell family, members of which were among the founders of Marianna and Jackson County, Florida. They arrived and settled in the “Chipola Settlement” even before the first survey of Marianna in 1828 and were among the business and political leaders of the county. Thomas L. Baltzell, who arrived in 1825 at the age of 21, went on to become the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. His brother, Dr. George Baltzell, raised a large family in Jackson County including a son, Frank Baltzell, who fought in the Battle of Marianna at age 14. He fired the shots that severely wounded Maj. Nathan Cutler of the 2nd Maine Cavalry.
To learn more about the battle, please consider the book The Battle of Marianna, Florida: Expanded Edition.
The water that pours from the four springs is crystal clear and cold. The Northwest Florida Water Management District reports that the temperature is a chilly 68.9 degrees. Because the water rises from deep underground through a complex system of caverns, it maintains that temperature year round. It can feel extremely cold in the summer and warm in the winter.
The springs result from Florida’s unique karst topography. Limestone, a water-soluble rock, underlies much of the Sunshine State. As water from deep underground works its way up, it dissolves the rock creating caves, caverns and passages. When it erupts to the surface, the water forms springs such as the ones that make up the Baltzell Springs Group.
Divers have explored the submerged cave system that feeds Baltzell Springs for a remarkable distance. They report having reached a depth of 1,800 feet in the main system and have explored over one-mile of total passageways. Please note that cave diving is extremely dangerous and you should only attempt it with proper training and an experience guide. Many people have died in Jackson County’s springs over the years.
The four springs that form the group are found in a cluster that begins on the bottom of the Chipola River itself and extends up a spring run for about 1,000 feet to the main or head spring. They are easy to find as you paddle north from Florida Caverns State Park as the spring run is the first sizable creek that flows into the river from your right. The first of the springs is identifiable as an area of blue clear water that stands out ahead of you.
Please note that the lands surrounding the springs are private. Respect private property rights and do not trespass. You can enjoy the springs by swimming, snorkeling or just exploring from your boat, canoe or kayak.
The map at the bottom of this page will help you reach Florida Caverns State Park. Located at 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, Florida, the park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days per year. Admission is $5 per vehicle (2-8 people), $4 if the only person in the vehicle is the driver. Admission for pedestrians and bicyclists is $2 per person.
The park is home to Florida’s only public tour cave and features camping, picnicking, hiking, birding and other outdoor activities. You will also find Blue Hole Spring there, a pretty second magnitude spring that is open for swimming when water clarity is good.
Take an armchair journey into the remarkable submerged caverns of Baltzell (Bozel) Springs by clicking play on this video: