5 Things to Do at Crystal River Archaeological State Park 

Crystal River Archaeological State Park is on the list of National Historic Landmarks and was an important ceremonial site for Native Americans in the past. It is 1 of 2 Florida State Parks in Crystal River and located very close to Crystal River Preserve State Park which I also recommend you visit while you are there. This post will focus on the archaeological park only.

Stairs to climb the mound.

The Basics 

  • Address: 3400 N Museum Point Crystal River, FL 34428 
  • Driving distance from select Florida cities: 
    • Tampa: 1 hour 30 minutes
    • Orlando: 1 hour 40 minutes 
    • Jacksonville: 2 hours 30 minutes 
    • Tallahassee: 3 hours 
    • Miami: 5 hours 
  • Park Hours: 8 AM to sundown 
  • Museum Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM Thursday through Monday 
  • Entrance Fee: $3 per vehicle  
  • Activities: Fishing, hiking, picnicking, interpretive exhibit, museum  
  • Pet friendly: Yes, but not allowed in visitor center or museum  

TIP: To pay your park entrance fee bring exact change to utilize the honor box as you drive into the park. 

Crystal River Archeological State Park entrance sign.

How long do you need to visit Crystal River Archaeological State Park 

The amount of time you want to spend at this park will partly depend on how much time you want to spend in the museum. If you have a strong interest in history, you will want to plan for a little more time. If you aren’t the type to read all the signs and check out each exhibit, you will likely only need 1 hour or less. Overall, I recommend planning between 1 to 3 hours to explore this park.  

5 Things to do at Crystal River Archaeological State Park  

Below are my top 5 recommendations of what to do at this small 61-acre state park.  

  1. Hike the Mounds Trail 
  2. Climb to the top of Temple Mound A  
  3. Visit the museum 
  4. Watch an Interpretive Video of Crystal River Site 
  5. Enjoy a picnic lunch  

1. Hike the Mounds Trail 

One of the main attractions of the park is hiking the mounds trail! This is the perfect trail for anyone from beginners to experienced hikers. There are interpretive signs throughout the park to provide more information on the historical significance of this park.

  • Distance: 1-mile loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Terrain: Paved 
  • Dog Friendly: Yes 
Paved trail surrounded by trees.

TIP: Make sure to pick up a park map at the visitor center!  I took a picture of my copy as well. It highlights the different types of mounds and includes an explanation of the different type of mounds found at the park.

Crystal River Archaeological State Park mound map

You can find mounds, midden mounds, and burial mounds at the park.

  • Mounds: Purposefully built structures made out of sand, soil, shell
  • Midden Mounds: Structures that develop over time from remains that naturally build up
  • Burial Mounds: Pre-historic cemetery containing human remains

2. Climb to the top of Temple Mound A 

This is a must do if you visit the park in my opinion. Even if you don’t want to complete the entire Mounds Trail, I highly recommend taking the time to climb the stairs to the top of Temple Mound A. This is the largest mound in the park. There are approximately 50 stairs to reach the top of the mound, but you are rewarded with beautiful views of Crystal River.  

Stairs to climb the mound and a park informational sign.
View of Crystal River from the top of the mound.

3. Visit the Museum  

The museum is one of the best activities in the park if you are looking to learn more about the history of the area. There are various artifacts on display in the museum. I recommend you start your visit at the museum and then exit out the back of the museum to walk the mounds trail. 

  • Museum Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM 
  • Open Thursday through Monday 
    • Closed Tuesday and Wednesday  
Museum display.

4. Watch an Interpretive Video 

Before leaving the museum to head out on your hike you can sit down and watch a short interpretive video of the Crystal River site. The video plays in a continuous loop and restarts approximately every 9 minutes.  

Door to enter a video room.

5. Enjoy a picnic lunch 

There are picnic tables at the park which you can enjoy a quick lunch before continuing to explore Crystal River. Even if you don’t want to have lunch this can be a good place to just sit and enjoy your surroundings before you leave.  

View of the river framed by trees.

What else can I do in Crystal River?

There is plenty to do in Crystal River! One of the most popular activities in going on a manatee tour. There are various companies that provide these tours in the area, and this activity is best reserved for December through March. I used this Adventure Diving when I went and really enjoyed my experience!

Crystal River Preserve State Park and Three Sisters Springs are also worth checking out while you are there! I will have blog posts on both of these locations with more information soon.

Me giving a thumbs up in my wet suit.
Adventure Diving Manatee Tour
Churchhouse Hammock Trail after a recent prescribed fire.
Crystal River Preserve State Park
Three Sisters Springs with several manatee in the water.
Three Sister Springs

Final Thoughts on Crystal River Archaeological State Park 

This is a must visit state park for any history lover, but I’d recommend it to anyone. The mounds are a unique feature and definitely worth checking out. Even if you make it a quick stop on a day trip to Crystal River it is worth the small admission fee.  

Looking for other Florida State Parks to Visit? 

Check out Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park or Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park which are both only 20 minutes away.  

Check out Dade Battlefield Historic State Park or Ybor City Museum State Park if you are looking for other parks with plenty of history!  

The information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. Information will be verified and updated periodically. If you are planning to visit, I recommend verifying the most current information with the Florida State Park website.  

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