Florida Caverns State Park with Merevin

Published: 07/7/14 12:12 AM in North America, State, Travel.

During yet another road trip to New Orleans, Kevin and I decided to break up the drive by stopping for a night outside Tallahassee and taking the opportunity to explore one of the many state parks in the Panhandle. We decided to stop in Marianna, Florida for the night and visit the Florida Caverns State Park before heading back out on the road.

Upon arrival at the park, we first had to purchase our tickets for the guided tour of the caverns. Since the Florida Caverns are a living cavern, you are not able to enter without a ranger. The tickets for the tours sell pretty quickly, but the tours go every half an hour, so getting a tickets shouldn’t be a problem unless you get there late in the day.

Descending into the Florida Caverns

At the start of the tour, you must descend a steep stairway to reach the entrance of the cavern. Without even realizing it, you quickly go down about 50 feet into the earth. This is the deepest point you will go during the tour. Although the reverse seems true, from this point on in the tour you are actually moving upward toward the surface.

Descend into the deep recesses of the earth at the Florida Caverns State Park.

Meredith Lambert and Kevin Banogon take a group tour through the caverns at the Florida Caverns Sate Park.

The descend is easy, but once you mentally realize where you are, it can be quite overwhelming. Entering a cavern is an all encompassing experience. You are completely surrounded by Earth where there is no sunlight to show you the way.

For a slight claustrophobic like myself, this fact had my heart racing during the entire tour. However, my curiosity won over any mental fears I may have and I was able to easily handle the tour through the Florida Caverns.

Miami-based Travel bloggers, delve into the dark at the Florida Caverns State Park.

Large chambers of stalactites and stalagmites impress the visitors of the Florida Caverns State Park.

Kevin Banogon eplores the living caverns at the Florida Caverns State Park.

Meredith Lambert braves the underground exploration of the Florida Caverns State Park.

The fact that this is a living cavern means that the cavern formations are actively changing incrementally every year. As water runs through the topsoil of the Earth and enters this open air cavern, it brings with it minerals from the surface that cling to each other to form the stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, and columns that make up the picturesque appearance of this open air cavern system.

The rangers are very friendly and knowledgeable at the Florida Caverns State Park.

The tour group gathers in the largest chamber in the Florida Caverns.

Some of the chambers we stopped in were significantly larger than others. In the one above, the tour group gathered around the the Ranger as he explained the true nature of the dark in a cavern. Since the difference between a cave and a cavern lies in the availability of light, a cave having light penetration and a cavern having none, the dark in a cavern is true darkness.

The Ranger explained that if you were to live in true darkness for 3 to 4 weeks, it would take about 4 months for you to regain your vision. If you were to live in in true darkness for 3 to 4 months, you would never regain the ability to see since your optical nerve would have been rendered useless. He than proceeded to turn off all the lights so that we could experience true darkness for a few minutes.

A still pool of water sits undisturbed in the Florida Caverns.

Meredith Lambert and Kevin Banogon have a great time exploring at the Florida Caverns State Park.

Kevin Banogon walks carefully as he moves through the Cavern at Florida Caverns State Park.

A panoramic view of the Florida Caverns.

It was amazing to see the contrast in darkness and light throughout the cavern. The surroundings were illuminated in just the right places to allow you to appreciate the drama of Florida’s only open air cavern system.

A waterfall of minerals built up over time is in the center of this chamber in the Florida Caverns.

Stalactites and stalagmites make the caverns at the Florida Caverns State Park dramatically beautiful.

Kevin Banogon enjoys a tour of the Florida Caverns.

Anything living can die, this is especially true for a cavern system like this one. The formations are formed and grow by minerals clinging to one another as they are swept past by the flow of water. If you were to touch one of these formations, the oils from your skin would transfer to the formation and that formation would never be able to grow again. The oil would prevent the water from mixing on the formation and the minerals would be unable to cling to one another.

Travel bloggers, Kevin Banogon and Meredith Lambert enjoy moving through the chambers of the Florida Caverns State Park.

The tour group stops in an open chamber to learn about the history of the Florida Caverns State Park.

The lighted areas seem dramatic against the dark of the Florida Caverns.

The drama of the formations in the cavern was beautiful. It was like being on the inside of a gigantic drip castle you built at the beach. The temperature within the cavern was a steady 68° F so the tour was a very nice break from the heat.

Meredith Lambert ducks as she makes her way through the Florida Caverns.

The colorful chamber of the Florida Caverns is a beautiful display of the drama of nature.

The use of colorful lighting makes this chamber at the Florida Caverns State Park unique among the rest.

In one of the chambers, colorful lights were set up to illuminate the formations. The added drama made this room’s beauty stand out among the rest. It was also interesting to see how the water had sculpted this chamber to have a large formation in the center almost as if it had been planned that way. You could even walk around the entire center formation to see it from all angles.

Meredith Lambert poses in front of a lighted portion of the Florida Caverns State Park.

Kevin Banogon poses in front of a lighted area of the Florida Caverns State Park.

The beauty of nature can clearly be seen in the Florida Caverns State Park.

The Florida Caverns State Park is the very definition of a hidden gem. For years, I have drive right past Marianna, Florida with no notice spent on the parks that may be there. I would definitely recommend a stop at this park and a tour of the caverns. The hiking trails looked great as well, but unfortunately we didn’t have anytime to explore them. So I know we will have to make another trip to the Florida Caverns State Park!

Exiting the Florida Caverns back into the light of day.

Florida Caverns State Park is a hidden gem of Florida.


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