ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Crystal River Preserve State Park, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Crystal River Preserve State Park, Florida
Crystal River Preserve State Park
The stunningly beautiful state park stretches along
the Florida Gulf Coast for 20 miles and protects a
myriad of significant natural and historic sites.
Tour Boat at Crystal River
Crystal River Preserve State
Park offers heritage and eco
tours aboard the park's tour
Fishing at the Preserve
The Crystal River Preserve is
a great place for family fishing
and outdoor enjoyment.
Ancient History
The landscape of the park is
dotted with shell mounds,
middens and other traces of
prehistoric Native Americans.
Crystal River Preserve State Park - Crystal River, Florida
Preserving Fragile Ecosystems
Civil War Blockade Running
The Crystal River as a port for
small Southern ships that
slipped past Union blockade
ships on the Gulf to bring
cargo in and out of Florida.
Stretching for twenty miles along the Gulf
Coast of Florida, the Crystal River Preserve
State Park preserves fragile ecosystems and
hundreds of archaeological and historic sites.

The park is headquartered adjacent to the
Crystal River Archaeological State Park at the
City of Crystal River, Florida, and is made up
of numerous sections, each significant in its
own right. Combined they total 30,000 acres
and offer a variety of chances to explore the
cultural and natural history of the region.

A definite "do not miss" at the Crystal River
Preserve is the
Monroe, a 26-passenger boat
that leaves for a heritage-eco tour of the
lower Crystal River. The tour focuses on "The
Ancient River Dwellers," early Native
Americans who lived, hunted and fished in
the beautiful coastal marshes.

As passengers on the tour learn, the
marshes of the preserve are dotted with
traces of these prehistoric people. Shell
mounds and middens can be seen on
almost every shore and island, traces of
untold thousands of meals gathered and
eaten by early Indians. The richness of the
marshes and variety of the foods available
there are explained and passengers learn
more about the daily lives of the ancient
people of the river.

The cost of the tour is $10 per person (free
for children under 6). The boat trip lasts
about one and one-half hours and leaves
from the visitor center dock in Crystal River
on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when
weather allows. Be sure to call the park at
(352) 563-0450 to check current schedules
before making the trip.

The heritage-eco boat tour is an excellent
companion to a visit to the
Crystal River
Archaeological State Park, which is adjacent
to the preserve headquarters in Crystal River.
The archaeological state park protects a
stunning group of six Indian mounds built by
a culture that thrived along the river for nearly
2,000 years.

Various trails in the park offer additional
chances to learn more about the ecology and
natural history of the coastal lands. Some
explain the salt marshes, while others lead
through hammocks and pine woods. Visitors
can learn about the wildlife, plants and trees
of the area. Among the most popular trails
are the Churchhouse Hammock and Path to
the Past trails.

Named for a Baptist Church that stood in the
area as early as 1845, the Churchhouse
Hammock is an area of hardwood growth
that is gradually being restored to an open
pinewoods habitat.
Also of special interest in the park's Eco-
Walk, a self-guided two mile trail featuring
eleven interpretive stations. Each of the
exhibits explains ways that residents and
visitors of Florida can help preserve the
state's rich natural ecosystems.

To reach the Crystal River Preserve State
Park from U.S. 19/U.S. 98 North in Crystal
River, turn west onto State Park Street. Follow
it past the turn-off for the Crystal River
Archaeological State Park and it will lead
directly into the preserve. Where State Park
Street ends, follow the curve to the left onto
North Sailboat Avenue. The visitor center is
located at 3266 North Sailboat Avenue,
where the street ends at the Crystal River.

The park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset,
365 days each year. The visitor center, which
features exhibits and information on the
preserve, is open only on weekdays.
To learn
more, please click here to visit the park's
official website.

There is no fee to visit Crystal River Preserve
State Park or to fish at the popular "Mullet
Hole" which is located just inside the main
entrance to the park.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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