A woman floating on a tube down a crystal clear river through lush forest.

Ichetucknee Springs | Tubing the Crystal Clear River

The water in Ichetucknee Springs State Park is mind blowingly clear. Tubing down the river is an absolute must-do when you're in Florida. Learn all about it with our guide.

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Tubing on the Ichetucknee River

Before arriving at Ichetucknee Springs we'd heard just how spectacular the water was. A local friend shared that it was one of her favorite memories, floating down the crystal clear water under the trees.

And at this point we'd been to maybe a dozen or more natural Florida springs, so we thought maybe it would be on par with everywhere else.

We were wrong. It's spectacular. It's probably the clearest and most beautiful water we've seen in the state.

The Emerald Cut and some of Ginnie Springs are close competitors, but the Ichetucknee River is simply a jaw dropper.


Hours | 8AM - 5PM, year-round

Cost | $6 admission, $8+ tube rental, $8 tram ticket

Length | 45 minutes - 2 hours per trip

Looking down the crystal clear Ichetucknee River that cuts through lush green forest.

When it comes to tubing the Ichetucknee, you have several options. Bring something of your own to float on, or rent. Pay the fee to ride the tram back to the starting point, or walk through the woods. Launch from Midpoint for a longer float, or put in at Dampier's Landing.

For our tubing adventure, we chose to put in a little extra work, save some money, and hike our way to Midpoint Launch.

Can it actually be called a hike when it's only 0.65 miles and totally flat?

Either way, we squeezed past the line of other tubers waiting to board the tram and carried our tubes down the wooded trail.

It splits off to the right directly behind the General Store. Going straight would take you to Dampier's Landing, another launch point, if you want to float for about 45 minutes.

Launching from the Midpoint adds about an hour of time on the river. In our opinion, the views of the river are also best from the Midpoint dock.

There are a series of wooden stairs at the end of the trail going to the dock, but it's all downhill.

A woman carrying a pool float walks down a boardwalk through the forest.A woman in a sunhat and swimsuit looks off a dock down a crystal clear river.

After we clipped some dry bags to our tubes and made a decidedly graceful plop into the water, we were being carried away by the current.

The river is cool and refreshing, perfect for a hot Florida day.

As you float along, the views will vary between a blueish green, looking straight down at the sandy river bottom, and a darker emerald color, where patches of grass are swaying below.

All that was required of us was to lean back, enjoy the float, and keep our eyes out for wildlife.

We lost count of sunbathing turtles, who seem to have a friendly competition going along the river: who can fit the most on one log.

A woman wearing a wide brimmed sun hat and sunglasses floats down a river surrounded by forest.

Any time we talk about exploring rivers and lakes in Florida with our friends or family the subject of alligators inevitably comes up.

And yes, we did see an alligator on the Ichetucknee.

But no, he didn't try to eat us. He did swim around a bit as we passed by, undoubtedly trying to avoid us just as much as we wanted to avoid him.

So, yes, there are alligators on the Ichetucknee River. And, it's possible that you'll encounter one from a distance. Staying calm, keeping your distance, and not provoking it or making it feel threatened is a guaranteed way to keep yourself safe.

In our travels through Florida we've camped along a river where gators live, hiked to the Deep Hole, which is an alligator magnet, passed them on trails in the Everglades, and paddled with them in the water. And we've survived every encounter.

A small alligator rests on branches along the bank of a river.

An afternoon storm cut our first float short, so we exited at Dampier's Landing and raced the wind and rain back to shelter.

Thirty minutes later the Florida sun was shining again.

We took a walk back to Midpoint for the second time, launched, and made it all the way down the river this time.

There are clear signs before the last take-out directing you out of the water. Once you're back on dry land there are restrooms and options: wait for the tram, or start walking back to the parking lot.

It's only a 0.55 mile long trail, so we decided we'd just stretch our legs and walk back. Leaving shortly before the tram pulled up to load passengers, we arrived back to the General Store and parking lot at almost the exact same time as the tram.

Plan Your Visit

Ichetucknee Springs State Park is about one hour northwest of Gainesville. It's split up into two main areas, north and south.

Take note that if you want to tube the river, you need to go to the south entrance, located at 12087 US Highway 27. Don't navigate to 'Ichetucknee Springs'. That will take you to the head springs, not the tubing launches. Refer to the map below to see where you should go.

The north end of the park has other attractions, including a swimming area, the Blue Hole, and a kayak put-in. But tubing is prohibited from here to protect the more shallow and sensitive portion of the river.

A day pass is $6 for a 2-8 occupant vehicle, $4 for a single occupant. You can purchase your pass on arrival or ahead of time through the Florida State Parks website. Keep in mind, though, that on weekends and holidays the park fills up fast. Purchasing a day pass ahead of time doesn't guarantee you entrance to the park.

Rent Tubes

There are plenty of tube rental options available at the General Store.

Regular single person tubes start at $8 for the day and there are mesh bottom tubes, rafts, and even ones with a headrest if you really want to kick back and relax on the river. You can make an online reservation and complete the liability waiver before arriving to save yourself time.

The cost of the tram is in addition to the park entrance fee and any tube rentals. A wristband to ride the tram costs $8 per person.

Bring Your Own

If you're looking for ways to save you can also bring your own inflatable. We brought two basic pool floats, which are affordable, lightweight, and also pack up extremely well so we can carry them around in our campervan.

Since basic tube rentals are pretty cheap at Ichetucknee this option really only makes sense if you already own them or plan on using them multiple times. But there are tons of great springs throughout Florida where you can get your money's worth.

There's really very little danger of puncturing your tube along the river, since you won't be scraping the bottom or any rocks. Just avoid getting snagged on any logs and a basic inflatable should be fine.

A woman carries a pool float down a forested trail.A woman smiling at the camera while holding up a pool float and a dry bag.

Kayaking or Paddle Boarding on the Ichetucknee

If you'd like to extend your trip and go for a paddle, you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, or canoes, starting at $35, and launch from the southern or northern end of the park.

A paddle downstream from the north entrance or an upstream trip starting at the southern launches can take between four and six hours.

Common Questions About Ichetucknee Springs

How long does it take to float the Ichetucknee?

Your time tubing on the river can vary from 45 minutes up to two hours. For a shorter trip, head out to Dampier's Landing from the south parking lot, on the trail directly behind the General Store.

To extend your floating time, ride the tram or walk the 0.65 mile trail to Midpoint Launch, and then float all the way down to the last take-out.

Are there alligators in Ichetucknee Springs?

Yes, there are alligators in Ichetucknee and it's possible you'll encounter one swimming or relaxing in the river.

Alligators will very likely want nothing to do with you and, if they feel you're getting too close, they'll just swim away. It's recommended that you give gators plenty of space and not make them feel threatened, so try to stay at least 30 feet away.

Is it safe to swim in Ichetucknee Springs?

Yes, it's completely safe to swim in Ichetucknee. If you're not comfortable swimming in the river you can head to the northern part of the park and swim at either the Head Springs or the Blue Hole Spring.

Can I bring my own tube to Ichetucknee Springs State Park?

You are allowed to bring your own tube or inflatable. That's what we did and it helped save a little money.

A man's feet hang over the side of an inflatable tube as he floats down the Ichetucknee River.A woman kneels down to prepare a pool float on a dock.

What Else to do Near Ichetucknee Springs State Park

The area between Ichetucknee and High Springs is full of excellent natural springs. If you're planning to float down the river it'll put you about twenty minutes away from some other must-see places on the Santa Fe River, including Ginnie Springs, Gilchrist Blue Springs, and Rum Island Springs.

Devil's Den is a longer drive, about one hour from Ichetucknee and 36 minutes from Gainesville, but it's a one of a kind experience, where you can snorkel or dive in a prehistoric cave.

O'Leno State Park is a nearby favorite for hiking, biking, and fishing.

When you're finished with all your adventuring, head into High Springs for some food and drink. Our recommendations: Prohibition Pizza's Underground pie, and High Springs Brewing directly across the street for a couple of cold brews.

Want to tube the river? Save it for later!

A woman tubing down a crystal clear river with text overlay that says 'Tubing Florida's Ichetucknee River'

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