Millions of years ago, the prehistoric age gave way to a karst cave that’s now hidden beneath a sinkhole’s crack in the Florida ground. During cooler months, the 72-water resting beneath green flora that drips down into the center emits a chimney of steam.
Ancient settlers named this unique slice of land Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring. Deep in the cave, stalactite deposits hang from the ceiling as if thousands of canine teeth from saber-toothed tigers were carefully placed above.
Darkness is overcome by the patch of sunlight slivering through the sinkhole-created ceiling formed long before modern humans walked the earth. The patch of light cuts deep into the blue spring waters to create a picturesque finish mimicking that of Mexico or some other far-away land.
The ancient settlers feared the cave for its steaming chimney, deep depths and sheer unknown of what lies beneath. We utilize the only remnants of modern society the cave offers as we climb down steps carved from rock and made of wood until we dip our toes into the cool blue waters and submerge ourselves into the eerie unknown that once was.
For ancient settlers, Devil’s Den was a place they dared not venture. A place that drove more fear than curiosity.
For modern visitors, Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring is a destination that offers a glimpse of untouched Florida. A unique adventure to snorkel the surface waters and scuba through the network of caves that lead away from and back to one of the most special springs in the United States.
As I walked to the entrance of Devil’s Den Cave, I was greeted by a sign with a skull and crossbones. The owners wanted me to know that I’m crossing into a dangerous place and to be careful. The first few steps carved in stone are cold, slippery and unwelcoming. I start to understand why ancient settlers named it after the loose-handed Lucifer.
After a handful of steps, a manmade light bent from beyond the corner of the carved staircase, opening into my first glimpse of a rocky dome that’s littered with stalactite teeth hanging from the ceiling, reflections of translucent water making them glow. I was in sheer disbelief that a cenote like this exists in Florida.
As I made my way down the wooden steps and finally reached the water’s edge, I strapped on my fins, mask and snorkel and plunged into the crystal-clear, 72-degree water and made a mad dash to the rocky bottom. The cave was cool and calm. Other people were swimming and splashing in its waters, but it grew bone-chillingly quiet the deeper I got.
When I reached the bottom of the far corner of the cave, I floated motionless not wanting to stir up any sand as I searched for remnants of fossils that still fill the cave today. There were odd shapes carved into the rocky depths by natural wonders, but I failed to see a fossil.
It didn’t matter, though. I was experiencing a piece of Florida that left me dumbfounded. A piece that few hear about and even fewer get the opportunity to visit.
Today, Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring offers camping, cave diving and snorkeling in its blue-tinted, 72-degree waters. It is a place all Floridians must visit and a place where all travelers navigating the great Sunshine State should consider making a stop.
Where Is the Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring?
Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring is located in Williston, Florida. It’s on the northwest side of the state, sitting about 30 minutes from Gainesville and Ocala, 1.5 hours from Orlando and two hours from both Jacksonville and Tampa. A vehicle is needed to get there since it isn’t too close to any international airports.
Devil’s Den Hours & Prices
Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring is privately owned and very well maintained. Since it is private, they do not allow anyone under the age of 18 into the spring for safety reasons. They have strict cutoffs to be out of the water by 5 p.m. and all visitors must oblige.
- Hours: Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Snorkeling Costs: $15 per person Monday through Friday and $20 per person Saturday, Sunday & holidays ($10 extra to rent mask, snorkel and fins)
- Diving Costs: $38 per diver every day of the week ($40 extra to rent full scuba equipment)
Devil’s Den Snorkeling & Cave Diving
Devil’s Den snorkeling is extremely cool and highly recommended, but the cave is rather small and you’ll only need about 30 minutes to experience just about every square inch of water you’re allowed to snorkel.
Since the cave is rather small, it gets pretty crowded on weekends, so I highly recommend going on a weekday or first thing in the morning on weekends.
Due to its unique network of underground caves, Devil’s Den diving is a bucket-list item for many people. Divers must have their open water certification or above and dive buddies are required for everyone. They will absolutely not let you dive if you aren’t properly qualified or you don’t have a dive buddy.
Devil’s Den Camping
With plenty of tent sites, 32 RV sites with water and electric and even four cabins on the premises, the campground located within the exterior borders of Devil’s Den offers a little bit for everyone.
All campers must check in by 5 p.m., and they’re really strict about that. There are a few porta-potties and two bathroom facilities with showers on the premises. There are also no pets allowed, and that’s a strict rule as well.
Tent sites are only $11 per night, which is an absolutely astonishing deal considering you get to camp right next to a Florida spring. The tent sites are first-come, first-served, so get there early on the weekends.
RV sites are $26.50 per night for under 25 feet and $28.50 for pull-through sites. You can either make a reservation online or call in advance to secure a spot. If you want to risk it, which is probably OK to do, you can also just show up and grab a spot.
There are also four cabins on-site that house four people per cabin. Each cabin is $112.50 for one night, $97.50 per night for two nights and $92.50 for three or more nights.
Unlike many other springs in Florida, all campers must still pay the admission fee in addition to their per-night stay.
How Deep Is Devil’s Den in Florida?
Snorkelers will be treated to waters that are around 10 to 15 feet deep, while scuba divers can explore nearly 55 feet deep into the depths of Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring and its network of caves.
Devil’s Den Water Temperature
Since the Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring is a natural Florida spring, its water temperature hovers around 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. This makes for a refreshing swim during Florida’s hot and humid summers and allows you to take a dip deep into the heart of winter.