The spring is about 7 miles west of Chiefland in Manatee Springs State Park. From Chiefland drive 6 miles west on State Hwy 320 to the park.
The spring is in a densely wooded area on the Suwannee River. Its pool is bounded on the north by cypress and gum trees and marsh shrubs, and on the south by a pine grove and picnic area. The pool is about 100 ft in diameter and is deepest at the boil near its center. The spring orifice is under a ledge near the center of the pool. The spring discharges southward to the Suwannee River through a 1,200 foot run. The GUE web page has a great listing about Manatee Springs with it's history and key features. Since this is a state park, there is an entrance fee and one must check in and show proof of certification before diving. Open water divers are welcome to explore the spring and catfish hotel sink basin, but only those certified in cavern or cave diving may use lights. During the winter months, manatees often hang around the warm waters of the spring. If Crystal River is too crowded, then you may want to check out this site.
There have been new rules established to limit the number of diver's allowed in the cave at any one time. The park requires that you make a reservation before diving. You need to be on time so that others waiting can get into the system. If you change your plan and decided not to go, CALL AND CANCEL THE RESERVATION. This should be obvious, but apparently several people don't seem to get this concept. There will be up to 3 teams and up to 4 people per team allowed in the cave. One team can have access via Friedman Sink and two teams in Catfish Hotel. Please retrieve your cards as soon as possible so that another team can get in as long as they can pick up their c-cards by 5.00pm. The total allowed for open water and cavern diving combined per day is set at 35 divers. If you do not have an annual State Park pass, it is recommend that you purchase one either here or at Peacock Springs State Park (my recommendation). The park gets a percentage of every pass sold. Let us show our support for the parks through which we get so much use by use them as our referral source so that they can demonstrate the number of divers that specifically use the spring resources.
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Manatee Springs State
11650 N.W. 115th St.
Chiefland, Florida 32626
Park Manager: Sally Lieb
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Last Updated: 09/30/2008
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