Camping is Intense: Manatee Springs State Park

After the Gate River Run, we ran around the house in a frenzy packing like crazy. We decided to spend the night camping at Manatee Springs State Park with our friends, Thomas and Lauren, for a night away camping.

We had originally planned to bring the boat. In fact, we DID bring the boat. Shortly after we dropped Vegas off at Pet Paradise off of University Blvd. in Jacksonville, I called the campsite to get information for late arrival. I casually mentioned we were bringing a boat when we were surprised to hear that the Suwannee River was flooded and their boat ramp was closed. The park ranger explained we could launch our boat north of the park, but the Suwanee was running really fast, and it might be complicated. Hmmm. We returned home, dropped off the boat and headed out on the road again. Oops. We quickly turned around, dropped the boat back off at home and headed out. A few hours later we arrived at the Manatee Springs State Park at dusk.


We quickly setup our tent before it got too dark. (Let’s just say it was a good thing we brought our headlamps from the Ragnar Relay) After we got setup, we started making dinner… that’s when I realized I’d forgotten both plates and silverware. Uhh. Oops? We figured things out, enjoyed dinner (with creative plate and silverware), and settled in around the fire.


Each site came with it’s own campfire ring, which was nice. After a few hours relaxing around the fire, we all crashed for the night.


When we woke up the next day, we had a brief tick scare. Adam found one crawling on his stomach when we got up in the morning. Yuck! We scrapped together breakfast and headed out to explore the rest of the camp ground. The first thing we found was the most unusual swing set. Have you ever seen one like this?


Thomas tested the chair out first. It held steady, so we each took a turn after.






Kinda crazy that all around the swimming hole, they have these signs up. I’m not sure I’d feel exactly comfortable swimming here knowing there could be snakes all around. Eeesh.


You can tell how high the water is in this picture!


Here’s a crazy sign that they have indicating the different flood levels over the year. Check out how high 1948 is!


They had nice boardwalks built throughout the trees and over the water. It really enabled us to walk out to areas we wouldn’t normally be able to see.


Turtle, Turtle!


Pretty interesting tree stump.


The boardwalk led out to a dock on the Suwannee River. It really was quite a beautiful day.


You know the place floods a lot when they have this river level indicator.



As we were leaving, we had the pleasure of seeing this lovely sign.

Some life lessons learned while on camping at the Manatee Springs State Park:

  • If you plan to bring your liquor remnants, store it in an old box of baby formula. No one’s going to look for liquor in there!
  • Plates are overrated. You can just as easily cut up a cardboard box (see “baby formula” box above…) and use that as plates.
  • Silverware is overrated. All you really need is two forks, and a spoon for 4 people.  If you’re hungry, you’ll manage. Trust me.
  • Don’t discount your camping neighbors for any missing supplies (plates?)
  • If you need to approach a neighbor to randomly borrow (Is it called borrowing if you don’t plan on returning?) any supplies (plates?), I highly recommend starting with the cute couple with the dachshund or a yorkie. Yes, I’m stereotyping, Yes, it worked on the first try.
  • If you show up past dark, showering is overrated since no one will remember what you were wearing when you arrived anyways.
  • Read the reviews on Yelp when picking a campground. I’m glad I didn’t bring my dog, since the one reviewer commented they found over 60 ticks on their dog. Sounds as though Adam got lucky only having found one!
  • Always triple check that everyone has the correct address for the location you’re going to. Adam thought we were originally going to a different campground with a very similar sounding name. That could have been bad.

Overall, we had an enjoyable experience at Manatee Springs State Park; although, the situation with the ticks was a bit unnerving, so I’m not sure we’ll go back. It’s OK though because there are SO many great campgrounds in Florida to visit.

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