Cave Tours at Florida Caverns State Park

Florida Caverns State Park was one of the first parks on my Florida bucket list shortly after I moved to Tampa. I recommend spending some time here exploring Florida’s only air-filled cave. Florida Caverns State Park is located in Mariana, Florida.

I visited this park in early 2020 prior to the pandemic. I utilized the Florida State Parks website to provide any updated information I could find in this post, however there may be some changes in day-to-day operations since I last visited. 

Inside the cave at Florida Caverns State Park

Florida Caverns State Park – The Basics

  • Address: 3345 Caverns Road Mariana, FL 32446
  • Driving distance from select cities:
    • Tallahassee: ~1 hour
    • Pensacola: ~2 hours
    • Jacksonville: ~3 hours
    • Orlando: ~4.5 hours
    • Tampa: ~5 hours
  • Hours: 8 AM to sunset daily
  • Fees: $5 per vehicle
    • Additional fee applies to cave tours
  • Activities: Biking, camping, hiking, cave tours, and more
  • Pet friendly: Pets in designated areas only

Important: The park is in the central time zone so plan accordingly if you are traveling from a different time zone.  

How do I go on a Cave Tour?

Guided cave tour tickets can be purchased at the Florida Caverns Gift Shop beginning at 9 AM central time when tours are offered. Each cave tour is limited to 25 people. It is recommended to arrive early particularly on weekends and holidays because the tickets often sell out. You can only tour the cave on a guided cave tour and are not allowed to explore the cave on your own.

A unique formation inside the cave at Florida Caverns State Park

Cave Tour Hours

  • Thursday through Monday 9 AM to 4 PM
    • Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas

I visited on a weekday early in the morning, so our tour was not very crowded. It was nice to be able to explore the cave with only a few other groups on our guided tour.

Cave Tour Cost

  • Adults and teens 13 and up: $10.75 per person
  • Children aged 3 to 12: $5 per person
  • Age 2 and under: Free
Sign to enter the cave tour at Florida Caverns State park

What to expect on the cave tour?

The cave tour is approximately 45 to 60 minutes and moves at a relaxed pace. This ensures everyone has time to enjoy the cave and take pictures. The total distance is only about six-tenths of a mile. The cave is dimly lit and walkways could be slippery so always watch your step.

Additionally, be prepared to squat down to walk through some areas of low ceiling (height of approximately 4 feet) for up to 15 feet as well as narrow passages. You will also need to be able to go up and down approximately 50 steps. The cave begins by descending 35 steps into the cave and the deepest part of the cave is 60 feet below the surface.

The view from the bottom of the steps right before you enter the cave tour

Important things to note

  • Stay on designated path at all times
  • Do not touch anything inside the cave due to a very sensitive environment
    • Note: there was one large column the tour guide said was safe to touch which makes for a great photo opportunity
  • No food or drinks inside the cave
  • Only certified service animals are allowed inside the cave
  • Backpacks, large purses, bulky totes are not allowed
  • No strollers or infant back carries
  • Photos can be taken, but tripods are not allowed

What will I see on the cave tour at Florida Caverns State Park?

My tour guide was fantastic, she provided us with information on the history of the caves as well as pointing out some unique features of the cave. You travel through a total of 12 different cave rooms each having unique features. There is even a room nicknamed “The Chapel” where they host weddings.

You can expect to see several impressive geological formations including stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and flowstones.

Stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave at Florida Caverns State park
  • Stalactites: a tapering structure hanging like an icicle from the ROOF of the cave, formed of calcium salt deposited by dripping water
  • Stalagmites: a mound or tapering column rising from the FLOOR of a cave, formed of calcium salts deposited by dripping water
  • Column: a formation created when a stalactite and stalagmite unite
  • Flowstones: sheetlike deposits of carbonate minerals like calcite which are formed by water flowing along the cave wall or floor

Another neat feature of the cave is colored lights they have set up in some of the rooms. This is another great opportunity to take some unique pictures.

Colored lights inside the cave at Florida Caverns State park

Lastly, you may see animals inside the cave including bats, mice, cave crickets, spiders, and salamanders. I did not see any wildlife during my cave tour in January.

What should I wear for a cave tour?

Inside the cave you can expect a constant temperature of approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Since I visited in January it was cool outside and I thought I might still be cold inside the cave, so I wore several layers. Once we started moving on the tour, I probably could’ve done without one of my layers.

I would recommend to dress in a couple layers. Typical hiking attire can be worn such as comfortable, loose fitting clothing. Below are my suggestions of what to wear.

Me inside the cave

Other Activities at Florida Caverns State Park

During my visit my main goal was to go on a cave tour. Due to limited time in the park, I didn’t have a chance to explore anything above ground, however there are plenty of other activities including hiking, biking, and camping. Please note there are still some areas of the park closed due to Hurricane Michael

Information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to check out Florida Caverns State Park, I recommend also utilizing Florida State Park website for the most recent updates.

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