The Prehistoric Depths of Devil’s Den in Florida
By Pro Staff Nile
Looking for something fun to do this summer that takes you to a whole another world? Then hit the road and discover easy-to-pull off road-trip and vacation destinations. Depending on your location, in just a mere hour or two, you could be in Florida pounding beers at a fish shack in Key Largo and/or manatee sightseeing in Miami. Interested in exploring? We have you covered with outdoorsy fun, foodie finds, and a dose of culture.
In the small town of Williston, Florida cocooned in the body of the earth, grey wisps seem to curl, and plumes of steam rise from the cavernous depths of Devil’s Den.
Viewed by early settlers as a portal to the underworld, Devil’s Den is a stalactite-toothed cave and translucent waters that fill the ancient sinkhole. Today, the cave expands below water level and a shape described as an "inverted mushroom", and the 120 ft. surface diameter and Maximum depth of 54 ft/16.45 m is a destination popular with scuba diving and snorkeling.
In Florida, Devil’s Den visitors usually prefer going during the colder months so they can see thick plumes of fog due to the 72 degrees F/22.2 degrees C year-round water temperature. In cold weather water vapor rising from the surface of the river forms a visible plume above the entrance to the cave, which suggested a chimney from Hell to early settlers. This fog is actually vapor released by the Devil’s Den prehistoric spring waters that pool beneath the Earth’s surface.
In 1993, Devil’s Den was opened to the public as a dive site and a tourist destination. The destination also has lodging such as cabins, tent campgrounds, and vast R.V. Parking. They also have lawn games, over 30 picnic tables, a heated swimming pool, cabanas, and a gift shop.
According to a review by Thomas B. on Tripadvisor, “We were amazed by the underground springs and the total beauty of this site. The site is beautiful but the underground trees, water & beauty is amazing.”
This underground spring inside the cave has also been home to many extinct animal fossils dating back to the Pleistocene Age. You may see some of these fossils that date back to 33 million years ago on display at The University of Florida's Museum of Natural History. Some of the fossils, extinct species, and artifacts include dire wolves, mastodons, saber-toothed cats, ground sloths, horses, camels, and human remains from 7,500 B.C.
According to their website, everyone is required to complete their insurance liability waiver upon entering the property and you have to be at least 18 years of age or with a parent on the property to complete the waiver. They also ask that you leave your pets at home. However, exceptions will be granted for service animals.
Luckily, the privately-owned sinkhole is open for business and enforcing social distancing. Snorkeling will only be available by an appointment. They will be exercising caution by not allowing groups larger than 10 people. During these COVID times, if any guests are seen not abiding by the 6-foot social distancing guideline, they will be asked to leave the property.
Other than that, Devil’s Den is open during all seasons and perhaps appropriately, considering the namesake, only closed on Christmas. So if you’re open and you’re looking for a unique Florida camping experience, take a plunge into the Devil’s Den.