Juniper Springs in Ocala National Forest, Florida
© Michael Warren/Getty Image
You can take a refreshing dip here any day of the year
Yes, the water here is as inviting as it looks: clear as glass, the shade of a precious gem, and a perfect 22 degrees every day of the year. Set within a subtropical forest, it is a veritable Garden of Eden. Long before Disney arrived in the Sunshine State of Florida, natural springs like this one were what visitors flocked to. Juniper Springs, seen here, is one of Florida’s oldest and best-known recreation areas, established in the 1930s as a place to camp, hike, paddle, and, of course, swim.
Florida is home to the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world, with more than 1,000 of them scattered mostly across the upper part of the state, where the massive Floridan aquifer breaks through the surface. This underground reservoir hides beneath the entire state and parts of neighbouring states. Under constant pressure, the water sometimes reaches voids in the surface, and a spring is created. This aquifer provides Florida with almost all its drinking water.
Like so many of our natural resources, Florida’s springs are under threat. Overextraction and pollution from fertilizers and septic systems have put some springs in peril. Luckily for anyone visiting Juniper Springs, these jewel-toned waters are protected by the Ocala National Forest, so it’s likely to look like this for a long time.