Exploring The Parks And Preserves Around Crystal River

Places of exceptional natural beauty, undisturbed islands, inlets, backwaters and forests cherished by nature lovers and photographers.


Rainbow River, Dunnellon, Florida 

With a name like The Nature Coast, you might expect that there would be quite a few parks and preserves surrounding the area of the Gulf Coast where the Villages of Citrus Hills is located. 

And that is exactly what you will find here. 

Our community is close to a vast selection of local parks, state parks, and national wildlife preserves. If you are a nature lover, you will have access to all of these great parks and preserves located throughout the Nature Coast. 

Here are some of our favorites that are located in the Crystal River area:  

Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal River

 This national wildlife refuge contains more than 31,000 acres of salt-water marshes. Its original mission was to protect the area’s birds, reptiles, and amphibians…as well as the popular manatees. 

If you are interested in bird watching from one of the most natural habitats you will find anywhere, this is the perfect place to start. 

Citronelle Park, Dunnellon

 This 15-acre county park is a fantastic option for a spur of the moment picnic. There is also a great playground here if the grandkids happen to be visiting.  

Crystal River Archaeological State Park, Crystal River

 As a national historic landmark, the ancient Native American burial grounds are the main attraction at Crystal River Archaeological State Park. But that isn’t just for show; this is a live and working archaeological site. 

There are also lots of great options here for fishing, picnicking, and bird watching. 

Crystal River Preserve State Park, Crystal River

 If you like to get into the water and explore natural settings by kayak, Crystal River Preserve State Park is a great place to start. You can work your way up and down Crystal River from here seeing everything from bald eagles to manatees.

 There are also professional boat tours for those who want to kick back and relax, and there is also great fishing as well.

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal River

 The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1983 to protect our local manatee population. It includes the waters of Kings Bay and Three Sisters Springs. 

Fishing is not permitted here, but there are lots of great places to view the manatee population either from dry land or right in the water. 

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa


Located just south of Crystal River, this state park is one of the most popular places to learn about manatees. You can see them here just about every day of the year, either from the observation decks or the underwater windows. 

There are educational features available in the visitors center, and the park is also a great place for picnicking, boating, hiking, and bird watching. 

Hunter Springs Park, Crystal River

 The state and national parks and preserves get most of the publicity around Crystal River, but Hunter Springs Park is a wonderful option for a much simpler day. This little park has a pavilion, restrooms, a BBQ grill, a volleyball court, a kayak launch, and a place to swim right in the Crystal River. 

Jim LeGrone Memorial Park, Crystal River

 LeGrone Park is another local option that is perfect for spontaneous afternoon picnics or friendly sports competitions. There are tennis courts, basketball courts, a baseball field, and an open field for your annual Turkey Bowl game.

St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve, Crystal River

This aquatic preserve includes 23,000 acres of land and water that is protected from any type of development. It is accessible by boat, or through some of the many trails located in Crystal River Preserve State Park. Fishing, birding, snorkeling and scuba diving are all popular forms of recreation here.

 Yulee Sugar Mill, Homosassa

This state park is definitely a top option if you are a big history buff. The area was once a busy sugar plantation owned by David Levy Yulee, who was also a U.S. Senator. There are still historic remnants of the sugar mill that operated here back in the 1850s.


With all of these parks and preserves within reach, residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills never run out of places to explore and enjoy.