Blue Spring State Park, home to manatees in the winter and a favorite place for a swim in clear, bracing spring water in the summer, will allow visitors to stay one hour after closing during firefly season in April.
Really? When I first read this, I thought it was an April Fool’s joke. As a South Florida resident, am I alone in my ignorance of “firefly season”? But I did a quick Google search, and, indeed, Central Florida is awash with fireflies at dusk near bodies of water in the first few weeks of April.
There is a firefly season and Blue Spring, located 35 miles north of Orlando in Orange City, is firefly central.
This year, the fireflies started appearing during the first weekend of April, so “firefly season” should extend through the weekend of April 16-17, maybe longer.
To allow visitors to enjoy this phenomenon, Blue Spring lets visitors stay after the traditional closing time to see “Mother Nature’s light show,” according to the park’s website.
Here’s how it works, as posted on the park’s website:
“This light show courtesy of Mother Nature is always a treat for springtime campers at Blue Spring State Park, but is not seen by day visitors who must depart when the park closes at sunset.
“Again this season, day visitors wishing to stay after hours to view fireflies should indicate to gate personnel that they want to stay to view the fireflies. They will receive a firefly pass allowing them to remain in the park for an extra hour after sundown. After hours firefly visitors will leave the park through automatic exit gates.
“After hours firefly watchers are reminded that they must arrive before sundown to gain admission and to bring a flashlight to safely navigate the paths and boardwalks after dark. Best viewing is along the boardwalk between the Thursby House and the Spring Boil. Insect repellent for mosquitoes may be needed.”
One park staff member describes the scene as “pretty spectacular …..It’s like a bunch of Christmas lights thrown out there into the woods.”
Check out this Florida Rambler story on the nearby Wekiva River Basin.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection web site about Florida’s Springs
For campground reservations, call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern) or TDD (888) 433-0287, or online at Florida State Parks.
Take Interstate 4 to exit 114 (State Road 472) and follow the signs to U.S. 17/92. Go a little more than two miles south on 17/92 to the traffic light at French Ave. Turn right and go two miles through a neighborhood of modest homes to Blue Spring State Park.