(Last Updated On: November 29, 2022)

Stairs to Temple Mound A - Crystal River Archaeological State Park

Situated just two miles northwest of the city of Crystal River, as well as the body of water it is named after, the Crystal River State Archaeological State park is a fascinating place to visit.

Set within 61-acres, it is a National Historic Landmark that can be accessed from inside the Crystal River Preserve State Park.

A pre-Columbian site, the park is noted for the burial sites that reside within it. It also has temple and platform mounds, as well as the remnants of a plaza area and a very big midden.

One of the longest continuously habituated sites in Florida, the six-mound complex has been lived in for over 1600 years and is a site of huge cultural and historic significance to native Americans.

While it is predominantly an archaeological site, the park’s location on the fringes of a verdant coastal marsh, makes it a haven for anglers too. Especially those who are into largemouth bass fishing.

As it is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, this Florida state park is also a very popular spot for birding enthusiasts as well.

Activities

While the park is open everyday of the year from sunrise to sunset, the day use area only opens from 8 am.

Whenever you choose to visit it, you can enjoy this fabulous public recreational space in several ways.

Some of the recreational activities you engage in include visiting the museum, fishing, hiking, picnicking, geocaching and birdwatching.

Here is some more details about all of these pursuits.

Museum at Crystal River Archaeological State Park

One of the primary attractions at the park is its museum.

Its main purpose is to interpret and preserve the mound structures, burial sites and way of life of the ancient dwellers who lived on the coast thousands of years ago.

Open from Thursday to Monday, from 9 am to 5 pm, it presents several fascinating artifacts and displays that were uncovered during archaeological excavations, starting from 1903.

Fishing at Crystal River Archaeological State Park

Considering how close it is to the Gulf of Mexico, you might be surprised how many anglers head to Crystal River.

However, as the park offers excellent opportunities for freshwater and saltwater fishing, it is easy to see why.

With the bass here regularly exceeding five pounds it is a renowned spot for catching these species. Snook, redfish and saltwater crab are found in abundance. So you should have no trouble playing catch and release, or sourcing dinner.

Depending on the type of fishing you do at the park you might need to procure a license. You will also need to abide by the park’s rules and regulations in terms of number, size, season and method of capture.

Hiking at Crystal River Archaeological State Park

Should you want to stretch your legs while at the park, there is a scenic 1.4 km loop trail you can explore.

During this self-guided hike you will be led along a paved walkway which highlights detailed information about the ancient ceremonial site.

Considered to be an easy route, it should take you around 15 minutes to complete. It also takes you up about 50 steps to a lookout which showcases wonderful vistas of the Crystal River.

Picnicking at Crystal River Archaeological State Park

For those who want to engage in picnicking, a small, amphitheater-style, seating area is provided for guests to use.
You’ll find it overlooking the Crystal River at the base of Mound A.

Geocaching at Crystal River Archaeological State Park

Geocaching is a very popular activity at the park with many enthusiasts coming here in search of the numerous treasures that are hidden within it.

It also provides beginners with a fabulous and challenging way to explore its landscape.

If this is something you want to do, make sure you have a GPS enabled device with you to download the coordinates from the geocaching website.

Birding at Crystal River Archaeological State Park

As it is included within the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, the park is a very popular destination for those who enjoy birdwatching.

It is also notable for being one of four ADA accessible birding sites within the limits of Citrus County.

Throughout the park, many different species reside there either seasonally, during the migratory period, or full time.

Depending on when you visit you should be able to see the likes of ospreys, pelicans, cormorants and bald eagles.

You may also be able to spot herons, belted kingfishers, egrets, scrub jays and American oyster catchers. So be sure to bring your binoculars and camera with you.

Pets at Crystal River Archaeological State Park

Well-behaved dogs are more than welcome at Crystal River Archaeological State Park. However, they must be kept on a maximum of a 6-foot leash at all times.

They also are not allowed in the museum or visitor center and cannot be left unattended for more than 30 minutes.

Camping at Crystal River Archaeological State Park

There is no overnight camping accommodation available at the park, however just 25 miles away from it you will find good options at the Rainbow Springs State Park.

The modern campground there offers 54 sites for RVs and tent campers. All of these come with full hookups for water, sewer and either 20-amp, 30-amp or 50-amp electricity.

Each of these campsites also has their own table, fire ring and grate.

Amenities at this campground include hot showers and flush toilets, laundry, a pool, playground, recreation hall, amphitheater, a dump station and campground store.

Park Location

Crystal River Archaeological State Park
3400 N Museum Point,
Crystal River, FL 34428
Phone: 352.795.3817

Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Crystal River Archaeological State Park: