Florida Guide > State Parks
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
On our last trip in April, we were determined to finally take a long promised trip to see the Manatees in their natural environment, so we did some research and decided to visit a recommended area, Crystal Springs and The Homosassa Springs area in West Central Florida.
The journey took about 2 hours, and was straight forward, taking the Florida Turnpike and I-75, the area was well sign posted and easy to find.
We had heard that you are able to hire a canoe and paddle or swim among the manatees, as well as take organized boat trips to see manatees and other natural wildlife. We decided we would like to kayak, but were disappointed that as the river was quite ‘choppy’ we were unable to do this.
As time was now moving on we moved on to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park, and were so glad that we didn’t miss this out! However, be sure to spray thoroughly with insect and mosquito repellant as the wildlife includes lots of airborne bugs! !
The Wildlife Park encompasses the Homosassa River and there is an underwater observatory to see the manatees up close. We saw several manatees slowly swimming up and down the river and around the observatory (no doubt on the hunt for lettuce which they seem to be fed and enjoy! ). Having spent some considerable time fascinated by these magnificent creatures we decided to wander around the rest of the park. There is a pathway leading around the park with lots of information boards and refreshment points along the way.
The thing we like was that the animals were nearly all native to Florida and America, including many creatures that we have heard live in Florida, but have never seen. First there were the key deer, then we moved on to the alligators – these fascinating creatures can be found all over Florida. We spent some time admiring the otters and waterfowl, before reaching the awesome cats, including Bobcats, Florida Panther and Cougar, shortly followed by the Black Bear.
A short stroll down the path were the beautiful birds, including Birds of Prey (eagles etc), and Crane – we have seen these many times in the air, but never so close, complete with baby chicks and un-hatched eggs in their nests. Finally we made our way onwards to the fox and red wolves, again native to the area.
Throughout the day there are talks and wildlife encounters (including the hippo and alligators) which really are informative and make the park come to life.
There are concessions and picnic areas in the park, and it does get really hot walking around in the sun.
We had a lovely time, and have promised ourselves another trip to the area to take out a kayak or boat trip next time.
Author: Dawn and Alan Murray
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