By Nicole Wiesenthal

Freshman, Journalism major


There is so much nature to explore in Gainesville, and so many place to visit. Here are a few places you can go to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors.

1. Lake Wauberg

Cost: FREE!

Time from campus by car: Approx. 20 minutes

Activities: Canoeing, Kayaking, Paddle Boarding, Sail Boating, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Rock Climbing, Bouldering, Challenge Course and Biking

Not only is Lake Wauberg free to students who bring their Gator 1 cards, but it also offers many free rentals. At Lake Wauberg, students can relax for the day with a boat ride, enjoy a fun day out on the water by kayaking, or challenge their physical strength and endurance with the rock-climbing wall. Students can escape from the hustle and bustle of college life and enjoy nature.

2. Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Cost: $6.00 per vehicle; $4.00 per single occupant vehicle; $4 per motorcycle; $2.00 for pedestrians, cyclists, etc.

River Use Fees: $5.00 per person: canoeing. $6.00 per person: tubing.

Time from campus by car: Approx. 50 minutes

Activities: Canoeing, Kayaking, Hiking, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Swimming, Tubing and Wildlife Viewing.

If you haven’t been to Ichetucknee Springs yet, head over as soon as you can. Ichetucknee Springs offers many opportunities to have fun outdoors, both in the water and on land. Even on a chilly day, you can enjoy the park; kayak or canoe down the river; or hike on the several trails. Ichetucknee also has a picnic area and restaurant. “I went canoeing, but you can also go tubing down the river. It’s really peaceful if you go on a weekday,” freshman environmental science major Bridget Chalifour said after a trip to Ichetucknee.

3. Devil’s Millhopper State Park

Cost: $4.00 per vehicle. $2.00 per pedestrian, cyclist, etc.

Time from campus by car: Approx. 20 minutes

Activities: Hiking, Guided Tours and a Nature Center

Unlike Ichetucknee Springs and Lake Wauberg, Devil’s Millhopper is known for its geological splendor. You can explore 120 feet down the bowl-like sinkhole to enter a completely new habitat with diverse geology. Devil’s Millhopper features a completely different climate from the rest of Florida with its own miniature rain forest. Small waterfalls flow down the sinkhole, and lush vegetation covers the walls. You can also visit the San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park while you’re in the area because it’s only a minute’s drive away.

4. Paynes Prairie

Cost: $6.00 per vehicle. $4.00 per single occupant vehicle. $2.00 per pedestrian, cyclist, etc.

Time from campus by car: Approx. 20 minutes

Activities: Bicycling, Camping, Canoeing, Kayaking, Fishing, Geo-Seeking, Hiking and Horse Trails

Many activities are allowed at Paynes Prairie, but beware! The park does not supply you with the tools you need to participate in them, such as kayaks and fishing rods. Still, even if you just take your time to hike along the many trails, including a 16-mile paved trail, you can have fun. There are more than 270 species of birds, an abundance of alligators and other wild animals that you can see even on a short trip to the park. “It was an experience like no other. The landscape was magnificent and filled with a variety of wildlife,” freshman chemical engineering major Joseph Daatselaar said.

5. Ginnie Springs

Cost: $12.00; scuba diving is an additional fee.

Time from campus by car: Approx. 35 minutes

Activities: Scuba diving, Snorkeling, River Tubing, Volleyball, Canoeing, Camping and Kayaking

The best time to come to Ginnie Springs is when the weather is warm and the sky is crystal blue. Ginnie Springs is a great place to enjoy the water because of the visibility that their clear water provides. Additionally, Ginnie Springs is a unique place to go snorkeling and scuba diving due to its underwater caves and caverns that you can explore. If you aren’t scuba certified, you can even earn a certificate there, or you enjoy the water from above! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore the greener  side of Gainesville!