Crystal River has more to offer than Manatees
Next stop, Crystal River Archaeological State Park. My fellow tourists turned in their rented wet suits and settled back on the bus. Madelyn handed out our “picnic” lunches so we could eat on the way to the park. The original tour was supposed to take us to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park but it was flooded from Hurricane Irma. Instead we were going to Crystal River Archaeological State Park.
Crystal River Archaeological State Park
A National Historic Landmark, this 61-acre, pre-Columbian, Native American site has burial mounds, temple/platform mounds, a plaza area and a substantial midden. The six-mound complex is one of the longest continuously occupied sites in Florida. For 1,600 years the site served as an imposing ceremonial center for Native Americans. People traveled to the complex from great distances to bury their dead and conduct trade. It is estimated that as many as 7,500 Native Americans may have visited the complex every year. Although primarily an archaeological site, the park sits on the edge of an expansive coastal marsh. Anglers may catch saltwater and freshwater fish. As part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, the park offers bird-watchers the chance to observe a variety of birds.
The temperature was tipping 95 degrees so I chose to stay in the air conditioned museum. In addition to the artifacts on display there was a short educational movie. When my bus-mates returned they were really sweating. They said it was great scenery but really hot out there. I’ll save my exploration for another trip when it’s cooler out.
One more stop
Part 3 of our tour is a 30 minute air boat tour of Lake Panasoffkee. Its about a 45 minute ride from Crystal River. Madelyn popped in the video from this morning. I think everyone was getting tired because the ride was very quiet. I was watching for hurricane damage but aside from a few trees and a lot of mangled bill boards the area we drove through seemed to be in pretty good shape.