In just a 40 minute drive through Central Florida you can have a thrilling double prehistoric adventure!
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is a National Natural Landmark with a hiking boardwalk that descends down into a sinkhole. On Saturdays, you can join the guide at 10 am, but we are brave! We did it alone! There are interesting oral stories about why the ground created a deathly water hole, but we know that the limestone rock just collapsed here. (Note: it’s closed Monday and Tuesday for Devil feedings.)
The trees are incredible and we welcome the climate difference from the beach. Be careful looking down though! It’s steep. There are 20 million years of fossil evidence down there. We also saw an abandoned stroller. The stairs are probably best with fully mobile children and adults. There was so much to see here, we wish we could have stayed at least 2 hours. Bring lunch/snacks. There are clean restrooms and displays to read, but no store or food.
Next stop, Devil’s Den Spring!
Make a reservation online a bit in advance for this one. The water was 70 degrees, so if you get cold easily bring a light wetsuit. Steam is easily seen coming off your body from inside the den! You get 1 and a half hours to snorkel. If you SCUBA you get the whole day. You also need to be able to climb down stairs here. There is an age of 6 minimum and you should be a good swimmer. You can’t take your things with you down into the window because there’s nowhere to put them. Around at ground level there are picnic tables to put your snorkel bags and snacks and water. We left valuables in our car, and dropped our keys at the front desk. I suggest a mesh backpack to hold your kids snorkel or other things. My son decided to use regular goggles and it was convenient for me. If you get tired, there is plenty of space on the platform to rest—just not on the prehistoric rocks because they are fragile. You can also come and go during your hour and a half. Just remember the SCUBA divers get the right of way on the stairs.
Here we go!!
The kids found a food chain, proving life exists under the ground! A frog ate this little guy right in front of them, and there were plenty of fish swimming around us.
Hot showers awaited at the end, along with a nature area. I finally got to ID a Pond Cypress. The leaves gave it away! It was short enough to see up close. They are spindly and do not look like the flat leaflets from a Bald Cypress.