MARIANNA- The Caverns State Park is nestled in 1300 acres around the Chipola River in central Jackson County and is open year round to the public.
In the early 1930's, the Civilian Conservation Corp and Dr. J.C. Patterson began the laborious task of cleaning out limestone and rock, with the full intent on making the caverns into what they now call a "Tour Site Cavern". The park opened to the public in 1942 and has twice been voted as the number one park in the nation.
Magical mazes of stalactites, stalagmites and soda straws carry you back to earth's formative years.
The soda straws are the first signs of cavern growth, where water drips down and carries limestone with it.
Some limestone drips to the floor, gathers over a period of hundreds of years and forms the stalagmites. The stalactites are the formations that emanate from the ceilings.
At an estimated 3 million years old, this is all part of an ancient sea bed and during our tour, we saw lots of sea shells, scallop shells and even sharks teeth embedded in the limestone. Ancient pools and cathedral like pillars of limestone tell the story of an ancient setting, untouched by human hands all at the Florida caverns state park.
It costs five dollars to enter the park, and cave tours range from five to eight dollars.
Each tour lasts about 45 minutes and access to the caverns can be limited to due high water and flooding.
On Jim’s recent trip, flooding rains from February had trickled their way through the limestone and into the cave, making about one-third of the site inaccessible.
Camping and biking are encouraged, and of course, swimming is too in the blue hole swimming recreation zone.