Wakulla Springs State Park Adds New Hybrid Boats

BY PATRICK GILLESPIE

It’s not uncommon to see a great blue heron standing on the banks of the Wakulla River on a quiet afternoon while taking a peaceful boat ride offered at Edward Ball Wakulla State Park.

But now visitors can ride the Great Blue Heron, a new hybrid-electric river boat that was purchased with funds derived from the sale of license plates. The introduction of the Wakulla Springs hybrid boats marks a significant step towards environmental conservation and offers a unique, eco-friendly way to explore the park’s scenic beauty.

Wakulla Springs Hybrid Boats

According to the Florida State Parks Foundation, the Florida State Parks Foundation purchased four new boats purchased for tours of the famous springs and river. The $250,000 price tag was funded from the sale of “Explore Our State Parks” specialty license plates, which were authorized in 2021. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Allison Tant and Sen. Dennis Baxley, launched in the spring of 2022.

“I love seeing the license plate on cars all over the state of Florida, and it was great to be here today to see its impact in a real, tangible way,” said Sen. Baxley, at a ceremony launching the new boat in mid-November. “‘Great Blue Heron’ is a beautiful boat, and I’m glad to know that the license plate helped bring it to life.”

Several dignitaries were on hand for the celebration at the park and the boat made its first voyage that day.

Wakulla Springs Hybrid Boats

“It’s been amazing to see what has been achieved through the ‘Explore Our State Parks’ license plate in a relatively short period of time,” Tant said. “Our state parks are the best in the nation, and this plate has created a source of revenue that will help ensure that they stay that way.”

The river boat tours at Wakulla Springs are one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Tallahassee area. The 45-minute ride takes passengers on a 2-mile span of the river and spring area. Most days, birds, alligators, leaping fish, turtles, and often manatees can be spotted in their natural habitat.

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is located in Wakulla Springs, just south of Tallahassee. The park features one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs. It is a destination in the summer months for people who like to jump from a tall diving platform into the welcoming year-round 70-degree water of the spring.

The park was also the setting for 1941’s Tarzan’s Secret Treasure and 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon. The park features the Lodge at Wakulla Springs, which dates back to the early 20th century. Hiking, bicycling, and wildlife viewing are also offered at the park.


To Visit:

Boat tour tickets require reservations and often sell out. To reserve, thelodgeatwakullasprings.com/boat-tour or call 850-421-2000.

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